Rowan Coleman: 2018? I'm sticking up for me
PUBLISHED: 12:38 05 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:41 05 January 2018
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'Women tend to have been brought up not to blow their own trumpet, or as my mum would call it, show off'
I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolutions, after all what’s the point of setting yourself up for failure right at the beginning of the year? But in 2017 I did make one. I decided to talk about myself and my work in the same way my male counterparts do. I’d noticed for several years how male authors – and men in all walks of life – are much more comfortable with accepting praise and extolling their own prowess, whereas women tend to have been brought up to be more self-deprecating and modest, not to blow their own trumpet, or as my mum would call it, ‘show off.’
So how did I get on? On the whole pretty good. Sure, some people are little bit taken aback when you agree with them that your latest novel is your best work to date, because after 18 years as a published author you’ve gotten pretty good, or that actually you are worth more than the fee they are offering you. But on the whole it’s been a positive experience, and not about showing off at all, but understanding the value of my wealth of experience and acknowledging my achievements.
This year my resolution is to try saying ‘no’ more. Once again my default position is to be polite, helpful and grateful for being asked to do something, and 99 per cent of the time I am all of those things. But there are times when it’s the right thing to do to say no. When saying yes means I’m paying for childcare and not earning any money. Or more importantly spending time away from my children when I could be with them. Or when I already have several balls in the air and adding one more is certain to mean I do more things less well, making me feel harassed and inadequate.
Sometimes it’s very important to say yes. Sometimes yes opens up worlds and opportunities. A natural introvert, I have to make myself say yes to social invites, because my default position is to want to stay in with a book. And although I find parties exhausting, my life is always (well, mostly) enriched by meeting people.
But it is ok to say no. Be prompt and polite, but say no if you are already very busy, if it makes no financial sense (you deserve to be paid for your time) or if actually you’d just rather be at home.
This is the advice that I’m determined to take in 2018. Except I can never say no to libraries. But apart from that I’m definitely going to take it.
So instead of giving up chocolate or gin and tonic or carbs this new year, make a positive resolution instead. Make a choice that will improve your life and sense of yourself, whether it’s having the courage to say, ‘yes, I am pretty great actually’, or ‘no, sorry, I’m too busy’, or something else entirely. It’s much more valuable to make a resolution that will make your life richer and more satisfying than it is to deny yourself a little bit of cake.
The Coleman Column: Best-selling novelist and mum-of-four Rowan Coleman shares the chaos and comedy of her life in the county