No. No. No. No. OK, yes.

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I said “No” a lot during the latter half of 2012. I had some writing projects that I wanted to focus on, and I’ve learned how hard it is for me to balance writing time and school visits along with all the other bajillion-and-twelve opportunities and obligations that life offers. So, for several months, whenever I got an invitation for a school visit, or store visit, or conference presentation, my answer was “No.” Or, at least, “Later.”

I had expected it to be difficult to pass up or even just defer chances to get out there in front of readers and librarians and other book lovers, because they’re pretty much my favorite people on the planet. And it was indeed difficult — at first. And then it became easy.

No — not just easy. Intoxicating. Nearly addictive. To my surprise, I found that I really liked allowing myself the freedom to take a pass even on opportunities that appealed to me.

It provided a terrific sense of calm to know that I could get by without jumping on every invitation that came my way. Did I miss out on some events and gigs that won’t come my way again? Maybe. But I believe that the (perhaps illusory) sense of confidence and control that came with saying “No, thank you — how about next year?” was worth whatever benefits I would have realized had I said “Yes” to those events.

Also, the writing. Yes, I got a good deal of work done there during those months when I was not visiting schools and (with the exception of the Texas Book Festival, for which I volunteered) participating in other events. Some of it might even get published, which would mean more invitations coming my way down the road.

And now it’s February, and I’ve got my first school visit in several months freshly under my belt. I loved it. I’ve got visits to more than half a dozen other schools in store for me this spring, plus three conferences, and a newly received invitation to do a reading at a store that I’d said “No” to last summer. This year, I think I might just say “Yes.”

After all, there’s only so long that I can bear to stay away from pretty much my favorite people on the planet.

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