You Are So Selfish — And That’s a Good Thing.

The man I love is a composer of classical music. He is also a music professor and conductor, which makes his time for writing very precious. “I guess I’m selfish in that way,” he said recently, as calmly — and non-judgmentally — as if he were discussing his hair color. I caught my breath. Selfishness, I suddenly realized, is not always a bad thing.

I wish I had $100 for every time a man in my life has called me “selfish.” One lover accused me of “neglecting the family” by sitting at my computer to write before going to work in the morning and in the evenings after dinner. I had to laugh: I had been doing this for less than a week. Another was hurt and angry when I asked him to please stop walking into my office to kiss my neck while I worked. “It pulls me out of the dream, and it’s not always easy for me to get back in,” I said. Another man could not give me even just one afternoon to myself in our tiny house so that I could write in solitude.

I could go on and on about this, but you get the point.

I read somewhere that, when someone calls you “selfish,” they really mean you’re not doing what they want you to do. So when I can’t drive you to the mechanic but ask you to take the bus so that I can write, I’m selfish. When I don’t make dinner for you because I’m writing, I’m self-centered. When I can’t stop talking about the characters in my new novel, I’m self-absorbed. And so on.

Sure, I have a selfish streak. Who doesn’t? Sometimes my ego interrupts my love flow. For instance, I don’t always do well with last-minute change. I might focus on my own feelings of disappointment, to the exclusion of everyone else’s needs, as acutely as if I were a little girl, which I am in that moment, I suppose. But some varieties of selfishness are positive — such as jealously guarding one’s creative time against the demands others want to place on it.

Another friend dislikes the term “selfish,” preferring “self care” instead. Whatever you call it, considering the needs of the self is crucial to producing anything truly self-expressive, which is the essence of art. If you believe, as I do, that art touches and enhances the soul, then the artist’s selfish insistence on a “room of one’s own” becomes an act of selflessness! As they tell us on airplanes, we’ve got to put the oxygen mask on our own faces first before we can help others with theirs.

A fellow creative soul, Bob doesn’t blink an eye when I tell him I need to write, and so can’t watch his daughter for him on a given morning, or when I don’t cook that dinner I promised because I got caught up in my novel again. On the other hand, he has canceled dates with me at the last minute because he was swept up in the creative flow, and we don’t sleep together as often as I might like because late nights are his most creative time.

Is it ever a struggle for me, being with another creative soul? Sometimes. On the other hand, it’s liberating, too. Bob’s claiming his time for his “inner life” gives me permission to do the same. As we gain opportunities to support each other’s creative lives, our spiritual bond grows stronger. And there is one thing, at least, about which I am completely certain: Bob will never call me selfish. Except, maybe, as a form of praise.

3 replies on “You Are So Selfish — And That’s a Good Thing.”

  1. I like the idea of self-care. We need that, regardless of our creative pursuits. Without that selfishness, we can’t create. And if we can’t create, I think that has a negative impact on those around us (at least, that’s the case for me).

    Lovely post. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sherry , You probably felt the need for some quick and widespread publicity and hence chose the most popular current topic in the western world to write upon ! It is good to be patriotic but not good to follow the misled as it can only lead to deterioration of the society and you have vehemently contributed towards that already . So pause for a while, take a deep breadth and read on ….. Journalists they say are conscience keepers of a nation and its leaders Its probably a far cry in today’s times … especially when there are journalists like you , who are out to seek cheap publicity ! There is a magnificent saying in sanskrit – one of the rich the languages of India – “satyamev jayate” , which means , ” truth alone is victorious ” . I would strongly recommend you to seek the truth , and that itself will alone serve your need to be selfish – surely a better way of being and remaining selfish . You probably know , but definitely chose to disregard or ignore that there are 75 scientists in America , and all of them by the way , are non-muslims , , who wrote that 9/11 is an insider’s game ! This is not difficult to believe because on that particular day , it is a well known fact , that people belonging to a particular community ( I am refraining from naming them because I donot have any hatred towards them , as I pray for their guidance ) were absent on that day from their offices in the twin towers and the adjoining buildings which they occupied !!! Amercians in general know that the policies being pursued are not going to safeguard their lives and ensure security . There is enough sane voice within Islam , which the media is by now aware of , which is showing that Islam is the religion which propogates peace and not war . With books such as yours , you only seek to fan the fires of war and chaos , hatred and complicity and donot serve any good purpose . In any case , your book is far from the truth and is twisted and only shows you in low esteem !

    I also read that you run a ministry for preaching a religion . You are doing no good to its cause by writing pornography about other religious leaders . I pity your approach for your own sake because had you really wanted to seek the truth , you have invested the time you wasted on writing hatred , in investigating about the truth of christianity … but its never too late and I strongly recommend that you you read Dr Zakir Naik’s book , “Similarities between Christianity & Islam ” for some factual enlightenment .

    Last but not the least , I will also strongly recommend that you visit the website of Yousuf Estee to find out why a christian priest , who knows the bible at the back of his hand, chose to revert to Islam . That will be some good food for thought .

    I hope that you take my sincere advice and do some good reading and research and seek the help of Almighty in guiding you to the right path . Amen

    1. Farhan, I wrote this blog post for authors and others searching for way to find time to be creative amid the demands of daily life. If I wanted “cheap publicity,” I would spend my time spewing Islamophobic venom, which the media loves to report, instead of speaking out against hatred and in favor of peace, which gets me no attention at all.

      Sherry Jones is quite a common name. There is a Sherry Jones preacher, Sherry Jones rock singer, Sherry Jones politician, and even another journalist named Sherry Jones, who writes about television. None of these people is me.

      As for your comments about my novel, I invite you to read it before you judge. Many people, male and female, Muslim and non-Muslim, have found A’isha’s tale very inspiring. You might feel the same if you actually read it. Why not think for yourself instead of believing what others tell you?

      Peace and love to you,


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