So you can read my books

Sunday, March 10, 2013



“The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think.
We do this because we're afraid.
We fear we will not find love, and when we find it we fear we'll lose it. We fear that if we do not have love we will be unhappy.”
-          Richard Bach
Want to know some lies we tell ourselves?
1.) My talent and its demands protect me from the responsibilities of normal people.
       You'll see this a lot at writers colonies, where you get to the kitchen and someone has just left their dishes despite the ‘please wash your dish’ sign.
      While most people still think talent matters more than anything, in my experience, character will doom talent more than most other challenges a writer faces.
     Certainly, you don’t need to be a good person to write a good book, any more than you need to be a good person to be a good doctor.  But to live a fulfilling life, character is the key ingredient.
2.)I wish I could do _______, but I can't.

"I can't almost always means I don't want to," says Amy Johnson, PhD, a Chicago psychologist.
"I can't allows us to pretend the choice isn't ours," she says.
 "It feels beneficial in the short term because we don't have to own our preferences or admit that we have a choice in the matter.
But Johnson says that habitually saying "I can't" makes people feel disempowered across all areas of their lives.
"I tell clients to say 'I don't want to' instead of 'I can't'—even if it's just to themselves. It gives them their sense of power and choice back."
3.)When I’m not engaged in the process of writing, I’m thinking about writing, therefore I am writing.
      No.  You’re just blocked.  When your fingers are typing paragraph after paragraph,
      THEN you're writing.

4.)I deserve this drink ...


Or this dress. Or this car. Or...whatever.
"I hear this so often," says Johnson.
"These lies let us hide from our real feelings with momentary comforts.

The problem is, when the comfort wears off,
we're left facing the feelings."
Johnson once had a client who said she deserved to indulge in rich food after a long day at a job she loathed.

Johnson says another insidious phrase that people use is
I need,
as in, "I need that new black dress."
"If you're alive and surviving without it right now,
then you clearly don't need it," she says.
     "It might sound insignificant, but changing I need to I want is incredibly freeing.
I need sets you up to believe that you'll be hurt if you don't get the thing. I want gives you more freedom."
      5.) Publishing this book will change my life.
           Only if you copied FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS word for word.
           But it will definitely be for the worse! 
           Usually people who believe this actually believe their debut will exalt them
           somehow, make them into a better, more attractive person, the person they
           have always wanted to be.
          [Sorry. That is limited to bad Chic Flicks.]
          And chances are you are better off preparing for the possibility you will still be
          the same person with all of your bills and character flaws afterward.
         What will change your life is committing to regularly producing work.
More than
         any single opportunity,
usually a commitment to writing succeeds instead.

6.) I'm definitely right.

         This is one of the most damaging lies we can tell ourselves, says Carol Tavris,
         PhD, social psychologist, co-author of

         "It's called the basic bias—
          the idea that everyone else is biased, but we're not."
         The belief that you know best and that you've got all the facts prevents you from
         even listening to evidence that you're wrong—
         that your memory is wrong, your perception is wrong, your explanation is wrong.
         It's self-damaging, in that it keeps you stuck within the confines of what you think
         you know, and, says Tavris, "it also makes you a miserable person to be with."
         7.) “I Don’t Have Time!”
        I am afforded the same 24 hours that you are. I don’t get 30 hours.
Stephen King doesn’t have a magical stopwatch
that allows him to operate on Secret
        Creepy Writer Time.
       You have a full-time job? So do a lot of writers. Kids? So do a lot of writers.
       Rampant video-game-playing habit? Sadly, so do a lot of writers.
You want time,
       snatch it from the beast’s mouth. And then use it.

      8.) I have no willpower.

      You have some willpower.
We all do, says Roy Baumeister, social psychologist
        Baumeister discovered in lab tests, though, that willpower is finite—
after people
        used self-control for some tasks, they had less of it for subsequent tasks
(so it's probably best not to quit smoking,
get organized and go on a diet on the same day.)
       But he also found that willpower, like a muscle,
can be built up over time
       through regular training.
     9.) “It’s Okay That I Didn’t Write Today, I’ll Do It Tomorrow!”
        Another temporal lie. Oh. You didn’t write today?
You’ll write tomorrow, you say?
        And I’m sure it wasn’t you who ate the last of the Oreos either, right?
        You write every day.  Period.  It gets to be a habit.  That habit will see you through
        when the grim, dry days. 
      10.) I'll never get over it.


"We're not necessarily conscious of how rapidly we recover from adversity,"
        says Richard J. Davidson, PhD, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, and
        co-author of

The Emotional Life of Your Brain. (

         Richard Summers, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University
         of Pennsylvania,
tells most of his patients undergoing a crisis
"to allow themselves
         to really feel some of the negative emotion and to trust nature—
         those emotions have really a finite lifespan and tend to abate over time."
        That said, he offers a benchmark for people who are grieving.
        There's a big spread, and it's important to remember that," he says,
'but a good rule
        of thumb is that after six months
there should be at least some sense of forward
        motion for the person."
If not, professional help may be one answer.
      11.)  “Writing Should Be Easy / Ecstastic Torture!”
        I don't know what planet you come from, but do they breathe oxygen there?
        Many come to believe that writing should either be super-easy
       (“The words should just fall out of my eyes whenever I tilt my head forward!”)
       or that it’s a miserable activity
       FINE PROSE.”).
        When it’s not easy or not wretched,
we feel like we’re not doing it justice.
       Put that lie to bed.
Some days will be easy. Some will be hard.
      Some days you dig soft earth, other days the shovel hits stone.
But you dig just
      the same
because that’s the only way the hole gets dug. 
     12.)  I don't judge people.
    Sure you do.
      Researchers from Harvard Business School, who've recently studied how people categorize
      and perceive others,
say that within less than a second,
we make what are known
      as "spontaneous trait inferences."
These are remarkably consistent.
      All over the globe, it turns out, people instantly judge
each other on two main qualities:
      warmth and competence.
      People who are judged as competent but cold—
for instance, a wealthy tycoon—
      elicit envy or hostility.
      People who are usually perceived as warm but incompetent
 (such as elderly people)
      out feelings of pity.
We're still judging with our conscious mind when we size people up,
      adds Michelle B. Riba, MD, MS, clinical professor of psychiatry
at the University of
"Although when we do this, it's ourselves that we're judging, really, more than
      the other person,"
she says.
"We're trying to figure out how we fit in."

     13.)  If only I had a million dollars, I'd fulfill my dreams and do_____.


This little self-deluding chestnut?
It's disproved every time we see an attorney
who aspires to
     own a pastry shop and bakes cookies to sell on the weekends,
 or a baker who goes to law
     school at night.
     Somehow, though, we are certain—
absolutely certain—
that we can't take the leap without
     a financial guarantee or windfall.
     It's a Truth, we believe, with a capital T.
 14.) I don’t care what anyone thinks of my writing.
    We may write the first draft for ourselves ... but even then, we are thinking
of how the
    final product will be received by an agent,
an editor,
or some ideal reader we have
    imagined in our heads.
     We write to be read. 
Whenever I catch myself saying, "I don't care" about something,
     I know, deep down, I am saying it to lessen the pain of the situation.
     If we're all deluding ourselves in real life,
 shouldn't our characters get to occasionally stick
     their fingers in their ears and declare they can't hear anything?
For a friend -  {No lies follow!}
I am honored to join author Ellie Garratt in celebrating the launch of PASSING TIME: Nine Short Tales of the Strange and Macabre.

Fans of Poe, Lovecraft, and King will love this dark smorgasbord of beautifully crafted tales, while readers who prefer lighter fare will delight in the wonderful prose and fine storytelling. Just remember, these are not tales to lull you to sleep… unless you enjoy checking under the bed before you turn in.


  1. As always, great post! I'm only disappointed about Stephen King--I thought for sure he had Secret Creepy Writer Time, lol. No, but really, I've been guilty of just about every lie on the list. Thanks for calling me out on them. I'm glad you keep it real. :)

  2. The lies we tell ourselves so we think we are coping? In a relationship, we often make excuses, just as we can do in our writing. We don't always see the obvious until it hits us in the face, usually via a comment from someone else.

    We go through pain to learn some of life's lessons. But, as I tell my kids, sometimes you just have to power through with only the belief in the self, something that is critical to self-esteem. Not ego or arrogance but strength of character. e.g., Victor or Sam in your stories, Roland. Of course, going through that waterfall doesn't hurt. . .

  3. Celeste:
    Yes, I was hoping to borrow that stop watch myself! Oh, well. Can't have everything. Where would you put it?

    All of us fib to ourselves at times. There have been many times that I whispered to myself over and over: "You can do this. You can do this" when I thought I really couldn't. But often that mantra pulled me through into doing what I thought I couldn't.
    :-) Roland

    Actually going through the Waterfall of Eden hurts the 2nd time around! But having your clothes become what you need them to be is a plus in the scary adventures Alice and Victor go through!

    What we pretend to be long enough we become -- which is both good and bad, depending on what we are trying to pretend to be!

    You're right, though, denial is not just a river in Egypt! We must occasionally be brave enough to re-evaluate ourselves if the choices we have made are causing us pain.

    Sadly, pain is often the tuition for our most important lessons. As for your children -- school is sometimes the harshest crucible we will ever have to endure -- our peers are often cruel and our emotions are so tender and impressionable.

    To know that we are of worth despite what others say about is very hard to cling to. But with a mother like you, your children have a resource that will see them through. :-) Roland

  4. Go, Ellie!!! Yay for her!!

    I'd like to think I'm older and wiser these days! I do care what others think of my writing - I don't like pain but it happens and I just have to deal with it - and I've deliberately lost touch with "friends" who I felt were passive-aggressive types. But sometimes I know I stick my head in sand and go lalalalalallalala to avoid confrontation and conflict and I like to think the world is a beautiful pretty place full of pink things and happy thoughts because sometimes watching the news and reading about all the darkness we are capable of doing to each other and the planet is too much for me take in! Oh dear! Am I rambling now? Yes I am!!!

    Take care

  5. A thought-provoking post. I too often see people who live in the past and blame others for their unhappiness or failures. I feel sorry for them. They can't see they are wasting the time they have NOW.

    Thanks for the shout-out!

  6. Kitty:
    Yes - Hooray for Ellie - may your success be stunning on your new book!

    Your "friends" who are passive-aggressive lost touch with themselves long ago and probably never saw you as you are ever.

    Lao Tzu said it was a wise person who chose not to fight every battle afforded her and to choose carefully the battlegrounds. He would say you are wise.

    As for imagining the world kinder and prettier than the daily news reveal --

    Well that may be you be more accurate than the nightly news. Negative reports draw attention.

    But walk outside your home and walk for an hour. The houses you pass will mostly contain decent people, flawed but for the most part wanting to hurt no one. They are quietly going about their lives, loving their children, working unrewarding jobs to put food on the table, and trying to find some small measure of peace in a world that generally ignores them ... after all, kindness and decency are boring ... for the nightly news.

    But to the people that matter, they are MOMMY, DADDY, SWEETHEART, FRIEND.

    I'm glad to shout out your good news. I am so harried at my dissolving job as it tries to decide whether to void me or not that I don't visit my friends as much as I would like.

    You're very perceptive on how people let the Present slip through their fingers unused.

    In THREE SPIRIT KNIGHT, Victor Standish -- on his way in the past to a duel with Andrew Jackson, thinks:

    "I caught the ghost of President Adams looking mournfully at his undead wife, wishing for the wife of yesteryear. We yearn for yesterday, for what was or what might have been.

    But as we are yearning, the present is becoming the past, so the past is nothing but our yearning for second chances which robs us of the happiness that might have been ours in the present that we foolishly killed with our doing nothing."

    Have nothing but success with your new book, Roland

  7. Some of those can be serious pitfalls.
    It does change your life, just not always the way anticipated.

  8. Alex:
    Yes, our choices are like slow-burning sticks of dynamite -- liable to go off when we least expect them to.

    The Ancient Greeks were right: character is destiny. Thanks for visiting, Roland

  9. You totally nailed the lies, the rationalizations, and the reasons. Good post.

  10. Optimistic Existentialist:
    I'm really happy you enjoyed the quotes from the psychologists and scientists. :-)

    Your comment made my day. I try to write posts that speak to each of us, writer or not. Have a great new week, Roland

  11. You positively arrested the subject, Roland. Fantastic :)

  12. Wendy:
    Perhaps -- but lies always seem to get out on bail!

    Thanks for tweeting about this post. It meant a lot to me, Roland

  13. ...guilty of lie #5. Well, I guess my first publication did change my life in some ways, come to think of it.

    The locals who've known me for some time tend to hold eye contact a moment longer than before, perhaps anticipating an outburst of wisdom, while waiting for my teenager in the school parking lot.

    I'm approached with questions that would've never been offered prior to publication.

    My nickname at the dayjob is The Author, which I've taken a liking to ;)

    Not the changes I was hoping for, but interesting nonetheless.


  14. I've been seeing Ellie's book all over today and it does sound intriguing.

    All wise words, Roland. The "I can't" really got me. I've given up on trying to pretend I don't judge - and it's no coincident that that's the flaw most people call out on my Three Daves main character. So I especially LOVE your last statement that our characters should certainly fall prey to these same flaws - wouldn't be very real-feeling otherwise, would they?

  15. Elliot:
    I am glad the fib #5 wasn't quite true for you. It is nice that locals ask you questions where before they would not.

    At my work, I am mocked for my books and their lack of sales. Different locales and all that. Sigh.

    Positive changes in your life -- I am happy to hear that. :-)

    At least I can make my heroes seem real by giving them some of my flaws, right? They are not happy with me! LOL.

    I wish you high sales on your new book. Michael did an excellent intro to it! :-) Roland

  16. Another thought-provoking post, Roland.

    Okay, yeah, I tell myself some of these lies. Not #1 though. #1 actually made me giggle. Maybe I should try it out and see if it gets me out of cleaning the cat box. :)