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From The Workroom / Personal & Faith

on not writing a book

This post has been a long time coming. But i just wasn’t in a place where i had the right words, or felt like talking about it, and i think now i do :)

Over a year and a half ago i was contacted by a prominent publisher to write a book about sewing. On anything i wanted. I was really excited. Writing a book is something i’ve always wanted to do, and had never pursued. I was always fantasizing about what i would write, my notebooks of ideas were full. I was just waiting for that time of my life which would be the right moment to go for it. For my time. And now it seemed like that moment was upon me. Let me tell you, the process of negotiating a book deal is no joke. It took a long time, and it was tiring and stressful, and was a lot of work. But i loved the concept of the book, and the vision is something i still think is awesome. But as we got further along in the process, i began to see how much work it would take to write this book. What i would have to give up.

It would be my life for at least a year. All things would have to take second seat to it. And suddenly i found myself thinking about how i could possibly look after my darling kids and how i could try and run my business and still find time for full time book writing. When would i spend time with Chris? When would i sleep? And the more i tried to make it all work, the more it became apparent that it couldn’t. (by this point in the year i had developed a stress ulcer)

Until one night i snapped. And completely unprovoked i yelled at my husband. If i write this book i won’t be able to have another baby!

And that was my moment of clarity. That was the moment i realised that as much as writing a book is something i’d love to do, it wasn’t the real dream i had for my life. It would get in the way of my real dream. And i knew what it was i really wanted to do with that next year in my life. I wanted to expand our family. And i wanted more moments with my Bunny and Buddy before their days were full of school, and no longer constantly by my side.

So i turned down that book deal, and focused on my health, and took the steps i thought i needed to take to make time in my life to raise another little love, and gather all the golden moments with my kids that i could.

So why am i telling you this story?

Because these days it seems like all anyone with a blog wants to do is write a book, have a more popular blog, start a business, make their stamp on the world, to be known, to become the best whatever etc etc. We are constantly told to push for success, to hustle, to reach for the stars, to prioritize ourselves, to conquer the world! There are better things than being a mother! Your free moments should be spent becoming awesome!! But sometimes those things are not the most important things. And in amongst all the people telling you that the ultimate goal is to write a book, or host a web series, or start a new venture, or be the best new indie something – i wanted someone to tell you that it’s okay if you don’t. It’s okay to choose a quieter life, it’s okay to say no to big opportunities. It’s okay to make real life the most important thing. Because though you may think big opportunities come once in a lifetime, your life also only comes once in a lifetime, and you really don’t want to miss it.

So here i am. A woman with many dreams, and many opportunities, and many once-in-a-lifetimes that i’m happy to say no to. I’m just choosing a different kind of awesome.

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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Kirsty
7 years ago

Thank you for posting this, Megan. Now I’m becoming a better seamstress, and can draft my own patterns occasionally, it’s all everyone is pushing me to do. But I just want to sew and enjoy myself and share what I make with the community. I just want a happy life with my husband and my hobbies.

You’re very awesome, and being a good mother is a super important job :)

Kate
7 years ago

Opportunities come and go, something else will appear or you will make it appear and they will be there when they are all at school. It is a skill to know when to take them or when to do what is right in your heart. I started writing my book at 8 months pregnant which was ridiculous, it somehow all got done, but not sure I would recommend that to anyone else.

Lessles
Lessles
7 years ago

Megan, thank you for this wisdom. I have been at home 3 years now, I quit my terrific job to support our son through his HSC, he is awesome, did well and I don’t regret it. I do get really tired of people asking me what I do all day though! And… “Why aren’t you working?”. Well my husband gets quite a few holidays, I’d like to join him on those. My daughter is at boarding school and when she comes home, I want to actually see her and spend some time with her. I manage some commercial interests in our portfolio and if I worked I wouldn’t be trying to save our local park for future generations from some very dirty developers. So better that people don’t ask!! Oh and I have a goal to become an awesome sewist!
BTW, my daughters first make was your cascade skirt and she adores it, she’s so proud to tell people she made it herself (with a bit of help!). Made with voile from Spotlight, it’s a fabulous pattern – congrats to you for designing it. I fancy the Cascade in a pinstriped taffeta from my stash for evening wear.
I love being a mother, ‘just being’ is very underrated, enjoy your gorgeous kids and don’t forget the camera with the newest one!

Carrie
7 years ago

loVE this post. Congratulations on the book deal and also congratulations for listening to your gut and choosing what fills you up, your family. It is refreshing to hear your perspective on the slower , more simple, and less outward success driven life. I have a 9 month old and a 3.5 year old and balance of family and self is so hard. Sometimes I want to branch out and “do something” but then I remember I am actually pretty darn happy just being with these adorable little beings all the time. I find when I take on too many things at once I start to enjoy nothing. A child’s truly innocent and young days are very short and I am also trying my best to remember that , breath, and slow down a little. Thanks for the great post

Houseofpinheiro
Houseofpinheiro
7 years ago

Beautifully said. Love your honesty.

Rhiannon
7 years ago

This is a lovely post, I have a lot of creative dreams and career dreams (as we all do) and I also have a three year old who I am completely and utterly in love with. I do feel a little bit like my life is on hold at the moment but honestly I would not have it any other way, they are only little for such a tiny amount of time. I can’t even imagine the regret I would have if I missed being the main person in her life while she is discovering the world. So I take my hat off to you for making the hard choices. Putting family first before career is not an easy choice to make in this world.

serene
serene
7 years ago

First time commenter, long time fan. So so grateful for this post!!! Please write more about personal/ family life, it doesn’t have to be specific to people. I love your outlook!

maddie
7 years ago

You are awesome Megan for writing this. These are my sentiments of 2014. When I started Madalynne as a sewing blog, I was very into turning it into a business, but as I got more into it, I realized that it wasn’t what I wanted. What I really wanted was to connect with others, learn about sewing, take good photos and have fun. I gave up looking at my stats in the beginning of this year and it was the best decision ever. Now, I do what I want, when I want and there is no number pushing me to become better. I’m just me.

Dani @ the domestic darling

What a great post Megan thankyou so much for sharing. I think as women and mothers we somehow are left thinking that’s not enough and we need more but the truth is that is more than enough, actually it’s the most important job in the world. Opportunities will come to you if you put yourself out there but the special moments with your children are so fleeting and can never be regained once their gone. Blink of the eye and they are grown and don’t need you quite so much.
The Roman Empire may have once conquered the world but collapsed when it grew too big and spread too thin.
X

Chris Griffin
7 years ago

Sometimes it’s harder to make the choice to lead a quiet and happy life than the life that everyone else wants for us.

Congrats for being strong. I think you are amazing.

Jen
Jen
7 years ago

Dude yes!!! I have a similar situation that every time I mention people think I’m out of my mind for saying no, so I never mention it, but you have to do things the way you want to do things. If that means spending more time with your family than YES!!! That’s definitely the right decision! I’m trying to take this year to work on strengthening what I already have in my business, relationships with friends and family, and with myself! Also I saw you mention on IG about wanting a personal blog. I feel you on that, but I wanted to say I would gladly read some non-sewing posts! I always like reading them on other people’s blog, but for some reason think nobody will want to hear about that from me so I know where you’re coming from. Anyway I just wanted to throw up a high five (cause I’m a huge high-fiving dork) and say GO TEAM!!!

Sonicka
7 years ago

Thank you so much. I have a “small” blog and I often feel pressure to make it grow. It’s nice to hear someone say it’s ok just the way it is (besides me!).

The Nerdy Seamstress
7 years ago

Thank you for posting this Megan. It’s a nice perspective for someone that is there.I’m a new seamstress and blogger. Lately I have also realized that I want to make the clothes I want to make and not to follow the sewing blog trend. I realized I to be true to myself. I thought i wanted to open a sewing store, but I realized that it’s not me. I won’t have time doing what I love, make clothes for me and my limited love ones. I thought i wanted to be a pattern maker too, but that’s a lot of work that I’m not up for. So, I’ve settled on maintaining my little blog and may be teach later. May be open my own studio like Maddie where I can teach and take pictures. I really enjoyed this post. This is our only live we get and might as well make the most of it. Spend your time how you want it to be spent!

Ginger
7 years ago

Oh man, I’m so glad to hear that you were able to figure out what you really wanted to do. Just because something seems like a great opportunity doesn’t mean that it’s the best choice for you, or that the timing is right. You never know what opportunities may come your way down the road! I appreciate you sharing this. I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure to “do something” with sewing/blogging, but I’m really reticent to turn what I love into a responsibility. I’ve never been in this to try to make money or get a book deal (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and I definitely don’t think you’re foolish to choose another path. Achievement is a good thing, but not if you have to sacrifice your health and relationships!

Nia
Nia
7 years ago

This is so beautiful. Thank you for this.

oonaballoona
7 years ago

i’ve tried to write this sentiment (less eloquently, and without the book deal or babies or past stress ulcer) like seven times, and never posted. well said, and well chosen, m’lady.

Betty Jordan Wester
7 years ago

This is so awesome. I love that you wrote this.

Kelly
7 years ago

Yessssss….thank you for writing this! I left a great career to stay home with my kids, and I think being with them is the most important thing I will ever do! But I do need to be reminded from time to time how special it is and not to get caught up in just making it through the day. And that being a mom is all kinds of awesome :)

Kailee
7 years ago

Thank you so much for this post.. I really appreciate the realness of it :) thank you!

Sena
7 years ago

Wow that is awesome to read. Thanks for your honesty and for fearlessly sharing.

I just started sewing and a blogger sewist friend turned me on to indie patterns and all of suddent, instead of I just feel like I MUST start a blog, make my own patterns, sell on Etsy, etc. I used to think that learning to make my own clothes and may be a few refashions on things from Goodwill will make me feel proud and cool, but suddenly the “coolness” target has been moved away and now I feel like unless I do one of the above. It’s such a bummer!

Nishi
7 years ago

A million times, yes! This is so right and so true! Thank you so much for writing this post! I gave up my career as an archaeologist because I wanted to be with my husband (he was offered a job in Japan & I wanted to go with him) & I got a lot of abuse from people who thought I was crazy to do so. But you’re right, sometimes there are more important things than successful careers & while you may not always know if they’ll work out, following your instinct is definitely the best course! I’m so glad I made my decision because it led me to sewing & back to Art College, but most of all, I got to find out what was really important in my life. I always thought you were awesome, but now I think you rock!

Sabine
Sabine
7 years ago

“I’m choosing a different kind of awesome” – that sentence just nails it. Amazing line, amazing sentiment.
There can be so much beauty in choosing the ‘quiet’ life (quiet? with three children? ;-) )

Well done, Megan, for recognizing the strength of peer pressure (although that is most often something that we ourselves make of it, and is not meant as pressure by those peers :-) ), for following your heart and your head, and congratulations on the third, REAL baby :-)

Kerry
Kerry
7 years ago

Very wise words indeed. I totally agree. I’ve had negotiations that didn’t work out for a book and also ended up a few years later writing a quilting book with a friend- it is a big sacrifice and the timing has to be right. It is not the be all and end all and I don’t know if it is a road I would go down again.

francesca
francesca
7 years ago

You rock, girl! It’s all about quality of life, and you have nailed it. I totally relate – I choose to stay in my country although I could be posted abroad with loads more pay – and stress, loneliness, etc…. I choose to stay here with my darling sister who needs me like I need her, our cats, and the middling salary and so-so work conditions.
And you know, your kids will love that you were there for them – I can tell you, it rankled that my mother went back to work after a year – I hated having a nanny!

Jane
7 years ago

That must have been a difficult decision. Saying no is never easy! But I think it is wise. I have four children who are all in their teens+ now. Years ago I decided that I would have many careers in my life. I started my sewing business in my late 40s and it is still difficult to manage that and be present with my kids. I’ve been amazed at women with young childrenwho also have successful businesses and blogs like yours. I don’t know how you do it! When my kids were young was when I was beginning to learn to sew and I was able to sew during naptimes and evenings. I hate to say it, but my life was more ordered at that point – with young babies – than it is now. It went through a seismic change when they became teens. But I think focusing on your family and your health are key – and if you are open to life’s journey, it will be filled with new opportunities.

BlackLabel
7 years ago

You are insanely inspiring.

Sara
7 years ago

Thanks for writing this Megan! So many of us are mothers trying to juggle our kids and home and love of sewing. It’s really hard to balance it all some days, but I am so happy to know that you chose your children over the book! My respect for you and your company has just grown a lot. I do hope you get to write that book someday when the timing is right!

Becky
7 years ago

I love this. It feels like there’s so much pressure on women these days–society as a whole has a way of making you feel like a failure if you’re not pushing yourself to the absolute breaking point. The truth is, I’ve honestly never been all that career-driven. When I was finishing up my music degree, people were asking me all the time if I was going to join an orchestra. And I always said no. I always enjoyed playing in the college one, but I was certain that spending my time always practicing for the next audition, always traveling from place to place to compete for a very small number of positions, was not what I wanted to do with my life. So I’ve stayed where my friends and family are, taken playing opportunities as they’ve come, worked to build my little teaching studio, worked part-time jobs to supplement that. And it hasn’t been easy, but it’s been me. And while I don’t have kids yet, that thought always was in the back of my mind–wanting to build a small career that I could do while still investing my time in my family. I’ll admit I’ve gone back and forth for awhile on whether I should also come up with some kind of Etsy shop on the side too, since pattern drafting is not my skill set, and maybe I will one day. But I’ve also found that I’m happier just taking part in sewalongs and such where I can, chatting with other sewing bloggers, and not pressuring myself to turn a second long-term hobby into a business.

Amy G
Amy G
7 years ago

Thank you for sharing this! So well put. Love this.

Elisabeth
7 years ago

I really enjoyed reading this!
It’s all about priorities.

Louise
7 years ago

I smiled all the way through reading this :-) It’s true what you say, sometimes (often, always??) society doesn’t view being a mother as enough. You’ve done what is right for you and your family right now. I sure the decision hurts – but you should feel so proud of yourself. The value of love is priceless.

Elsa
7 years ago

You are so right! Not everyone has the same priorities, but it’s important you stick to yours no matter what others think. Congrats on being so honest

Lauren
7 years ago

Beautifully written! Thank you so much for posting this, and for being so honest! I know I’m echoing a lot of ladies when I say I found myself falling down the same trap of wanting to do more more more and wanting to be the most successful and all that came with it. In the end, I realized that the stress load was actually making things a chore – which is sad when that’s attached to something you love the most! Everything doesn’t have to be a competition, and we don’t have to the best out of our peers (maybe just for ourselves, in a “I’m constantly pushing myself and growing and learning” way, if that makes sense. A healthy way.). I think you’re an amazing person and mother, and I think you made the right choice for you and your family ?

Brigid
7 years ago

Thank you so much for saying this Megan! You are so right about how often we feel pressured to become the next big “thing”, when we really do not have to be. And I say three cheers for you for realizing that you don’t have to pursue the dreams everyone else thinks you should, and rather you are pursuing the dream you have had all along. May God bless you.

sarah
sarah
7 years ago

You couldn’t have said it any better Megan!

Janette
7 years ago

I really enjoyed reading this post. I picked up sewing as a hobby and love reading the long list of blogs I’ve found over the past few years. I’m constantly amazed at how many folks have been so productive! But, in the back of my mind I am always wondering when some have time for ‘living’ (i.e sitting on the couch reading a book or seeing friends). Maybe I’m lazy and need more of that down time! (I am.) Then again, we only see what is posted and that’s just a piece of a life.

I guess it’s not really all that different than the struggles women everywhere have with work/life balance. I decided a few years ago I loved my quality of life and was ok with a plateau at work. The sacrife otherwise would be too much. The difference here is, I don’t have thousands of people reading about my work as you do. That would be a whole new complication. Best of luck to you!

Kelly
7 years ago

Thanks so much for this. I’m struggling with this right now with my day job. There’s so much pressure, not a little of which comes just from myself, to push through everything, put work above all else, and not show any weakness. And I’m feeling like I’m getting up against a breaking point. I actually just gave myself permission to not go to a networking party late Friday evening this conference weekend. It’s not exactly like having a baby, but actually choosing to not “be the best I can be” or whatever in deference to my health and happiness is a really big deal!

Rochelle New
7 years ago

This is the most refreshing blog post I’ve read in such a long time and I needed to read it. Many people have told me I should write a book and I was convinced that I should some day… and maybe I still will because I do enjoy writing, but the stress of what having a book actually entails sounds so …well, really not for me. It’s amazing to know that you turned down a book deal and feel like a better person because of it! I’m proud of my quiet life and would like it to stay that way :)

Thanks for the reminder that having a book does not make you a better person, a more successful person, or a more skilled person. It just makes you a person with your name on a book cover.

Katy
7 years ago

Good for you Megan! I loved reading your post and all the comments. I have to say I find it hard to get excited when yet another sewing book is released. Unless the patterns that come with it are exceptional then I’m not interested.

laura
7 years ago

Yes. I am still only young and feel so much pressure to achieve certain things, that I should be pushing to reach the top… When I think I’m ok living my life in the middle and enjoying the people around me. Thank you for being a voice that says that is ok
xxx

toolie oolie
7 years ago

thank you for sharing! i’ve also recently began evaluating my dreams and goals in life and this has required difficult decisions that others have found to be absolutely insane. but they are right for me, right now. i’m glad i’m not alone!

wishing you much love and lots of happiness in pursuing your dreams, whatever they may be.

xo.
toolie

Annika
7 years ago

Wow. Just wanted to applaud you. This was one of the most beautiful and thoughtful blog posts that I read in a long time!

Gemma
7 years ago

This post echoes a lot of my own thoughts about society’s idea of success. It’s a tough one and I certainly battle with it even though I’m entirely certain that the place I want to be is here, looking after my 2 children. Something you said in one of your posts made me wonder if you were thinking about these things too – you said that you found it difficult to sit and do nothing…….like you felt like you were wasting the time you were sitting quietly or relaxing instead of working. It really jumped out at me and made me think of how we’re put under so much pressure to ‘work’ ‘produce’ and be ‘successful’ but we forget that there are so many different definitions of success and happiness. Thanks for such an honest and thought provoking post.

Helene
7 years ago

Beautifully said! I think the modern woman has this dilemma, speaking from personal experience! As I was raising my children, I often was so conflicted about how I should live my life, with all the potential opportunities I had, and at the same time, the strong pull I felt to be with my children and be satisfied with running a good home for my precious family. I think each of us has to make the call, which way to go, and then make that choice work as well as we can, with no regrets, because let’s face it, with the 20-20 vision that comes with hindsight, we’ll always have some regrets, whichever way we turn. No one can make that decision for us, we just need to follow our heart and be true to that. You are a great woman, Megan, xxx

Janet
Janet
7 years ago

Nice! I am so glad “you picked a different kind of awesome”, the one that was best suited to you. It is pretty hard not to get sucked into the vortex. I sometimes worry I let my girls down. Wanted to show them I could achieve.…people encouraged me….and then I saw 50 years old coming and said…WT? I don’t want this. I want a life! Live the way that feeds you. All the best!

Katherine
7 years ago

Now I’m just all tearin’ up. I applaud your courage in making such a decision.

Brigette
Brigette
7 years ago

Thank you for sharing this post! We need more examples of people valuing marriage and family, and showing how those decisions are success. Thank you.

Inder
7 years ago

While it may not be the best known bloggers (because of course the best known bloggers tend to be ones working hardest at being well-known) there are plenty of bloggers who just enjoy blogging and aren’t constantly trying to grow their business. Jump in, the water is warm! ;-)

No, I completely respect your position. I love your patterns and I must (selfishly) hope that you will continue to design them, and that is a pretty major accomplishment in its own right!

I don’t think I’m going to be on my deathbed wishing I had worked harder, although of course I am proud of my work ethic. But being with your family – that is what matters the most.

Amanda
Amanda
7 years ago

Love this! Such a great perspective.

Nicole
7 years ago

Thank you so much for sharing this Megan, brought a tear to my eye! I think finding the right balance is something we all struggle with. For women these days there can be so much pressure to have a successful career, to have the perfect home, to be supermum, look amazing etc etc. It is really hard to be/do all of these things and also to enjoy them. You wont regret the time you put into your family those precious moments you will have with you forever, good on you Megan!