Wednesday, October 3, 2012

They Want to Suck Your Blood

Vampires, love them, malign them, but don't ignore them.

There are the famous vampires. The literal ones; Lestat, Dracula and, of course, Edward. And then the metaphorical vampires. I find the metaphorical vampires far more frightening than anything I've read in print or seen on a screen.

The MVs, not to be confused with MVPs, are all those things and people that suck, not our blood, but our energy and will to keep doing whatever it is we hold dear. In my case that's writing. In your case it might be something different.

Metaphorical vampire moments can come disguised as an off-hand comment. "Oh, are you still doing that writing thing?"

They can be guilt-based. "Volunteerism is the wind beneath this organization's wings and we couldn't do it without your help."

They can be need-based. "I've been feeling so lonely. My therapist says I should make an effort to get out more, but I can't stand the thought of going anywhere by myself."

Or they can be heavy hitters, clueless yet insistent. "Boy, you look like you're working hard. So, what are you working on? Isn't this a beautiful fall we're having. What do you think of the Knicks/Ducks/Giants/Beavers/Yankees? (I just exhausted my knowledge of sports and teams right there) Have you heard about that new ballot measure?"

All of these MVs have genuine needs. Their goal isn't to stop my writerly work, drag it down, halting it dead with their sharp teeth. But sometimes, that's what happens.

It takes discipline to let the off-hand comment go, put reins on the guilt I feel when I don't step up to the volunteer plate. I struggle to balance when to be available for the friend in need and how to politely rebuff the chatty stranger who views an empty seat at my side as an invitation to sit down and talk.

I'm not metaphorical vampire-proof, but I'm getting better. I've discovered energy, like blood, is a renewable resource. Even so, after my family is packed off to school and work for the day, I give first dibs on that resource to my writing. Then, when I hit my magic number of words the metaphorical vampires are free to drink every drop that's left behind.

How do you deal with the metaphorical vampires in your life?



21 comments:

Alison DeLuca said...

How true! My sister calls these fellows "Death Eaters." They come sliming along, just as you're settling down into a spot of work, and suck the soul right out of you.

I think the only way to deal is have that pre-arranged call from a friend. "Whoops! There goes the phone! Oh, this has been lovely but I really must dash."

Connie J Jasperson said...

I'm not a vampire! I'm not! I just need a little attention... I'm just hungry for a little bit of your time...

Barbara Watson said...

Very cool perspective. I think one thing I've learned is that I have to say no to some things--even some good things--so I have energy and time for the better things.

Morgan said...

Sooooo cool. Love the metaphor...

Like Barbara, I'm learning to say no... which is sometimes really hard for me to do...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You learn when to say NO!
And we really need to talk sports sometime, Johanna.

naida said...

Love the vampire metaphor. Yes indeed it does take discipline to let certain comments go. There should be medals awarded :)
I think the vampires in my life are mostly work related. Extended family vamps I don't mind as much, because, well they're family.

Carol Kilgore said...

These MVs live at my house, too. I don't deal with them as well as you. But I am getting better :)

Johanna Garth said...

Allie, I might have to steal that phrase!

Connie, LOL!

Barbara, getting better all the time at no.

Morgan, me too.

Alex, NO, NO, NO. Please no sports talk!

Naida, I think I could have a lot of fun coming up with names for those medals!

Carol, I think, like yoga, it's a practice.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Run away! Or at least recognize when they are sucking the joy out of your life.

Liza said...

My old boss used to call these folks: Time Bandits and she'd shape her fingers like a gun and blow on the pointer. Sometimes the words have to be: "Thanks but I can't right now. Perhaps another time." End of story!

ali cross said...

Ha! Great, um, metaphor Johanna! I take the same approach as you--writing comes first, after my goal ... I'm up for grabs! Um, sort of. :)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

How do I deal with the metaphorical vampires? As long as they keep giving me a paycheck, I keep showing up for work. LOL.

Lestat is way cooler than Edward.

Ella said...

I feed them pencil shaving and decaf coffee. I try to shut them down~
I find it difficult, some days I can shake it off and other days I feel them drain my life force~ I find the "emotional vampires" in my world, the worst~

Great post :D

jenny milchman said...

"Energy, like blood, is a renewable resource." Great, great, great point.

Isis Rushdan said...

I avoid them when possible and charge up. Dealing with them can be so draining. I love your approach.

Tammy Theriault said...

if it came from Edward, I wouldn't mind being "drained" :)

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I keep my writing a secret from most people (outside of the blogosphere, at least), because I used to hear those condescending comments from metaphorical vampires (I like how you described them, and I like your name for them) too. Comments like that made me question my own writing, and that wasn't good for me at all. So now I keep it a secret, particularly from the people who don't understand what writing means to me.

Ross M Kitson said...

Excellent post. I love the wide range of synonyms your readers are posting! Time Bandits! LMAO,

~Sia McKye~ said...

Part of their effect on us depends upon where we are mentally at the time. There are times they can hurt me--usually when my energy is flagging. That happens less as my skills to deflect them increase.

I've learned to recognize them long before they get close. I've also learned to set my boundaries on what I can and can't do and pull up the armor plates of deflection. I say no--a lot. I have nice phrases intact to say no and then cut off the conversation and redirect it.

There are certain needy people that can suck me dry if I let them, I don't let them get close enough to do so. I avoid them and don't allow them to take root in my life. I do it with a smile but there are times when plain speaking in necessary.

Bottom line is, this is my life. I have to prioritize. Family first and everything filters down from that.

Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

Michael Di Gesu said...

Taking charge of your life does take guts. Stand up and fight! We all have certain obligations, but we must always take a few minutes for ourselves.

I learned that over the past few years. I was consumed with writing for two years and physically fell apart. Now I balance my life as best I can. BUT, I always make the time to get off my butt and workout my body and with that the mind clears and the ideas flow. It's a win/win situation.

Love the metaphor. "they" do such the life out of us... Get that silver stake ready... lol. Time to become BUFFY...

TL Cooper said...

Great post! It is so important to remember we have the power within ourselves to resist MVs, and it is so easy to forget, especially when they are people we love.