Do you need a better plan other than the usual one consisting of bolstering of yourself in the mirror, you know what I mean? “I’m totally going to do it this time…” It might seem strange to be discussing this so close to publication and now that my website and blog are married (after a rocky year-long engagement). The trouble is that having gotten this far I am only too aware that things are now serious. You see “living as a creative person is a marathon, not a sprint…and raises the difficult question of whether or not you want to be painting, or singing, or writing poetry at 90?” Jessica Abel, author of the graphic novel La Perdida and winner of two Harvey Awards (she calls this kind of the Golden Globes of Comics) answered this way – Why not? I do! So do I. So, is there a problem?
Absolutely! Living it until you’re 90 is fine but working at it as a way to make a living is a completely different conversation. Talent is not enough. You do have to have a point of difference but you also need a plan to back you up. This, what I do, am doing, and have been doing including this post is a business and it needs me to understand that or I will fail. Don’t panic, I am not going into intense discussions about business models although Jessica’s post on this is very interesting. It just got me thinking not about the bits and pieces like media, editing, self-publishing versus traditional, cover designs and that I love all this, because getting those right, are a vital part of the process. Writing however, and I mean actually sitting there and doing it, is more haphazard. You are reliant on ideas and putting them down in a period that allows the work to become something substantial enough to publish. Where do you and ideas coincide?
If you are not the kind of person that can sit for hours at a time and come up with something, or that person who can do it without any external motivation or validation, or even the kind of person who can work in 10-minute increments between writing emails then what kind of person are you and are you prepared to find what works for you. Jessica describes this as a core mission, core having the same connotation it does in physical activity. If your core is weak then everything is that much harder to do. (I say this as I sit here with a sore back – no core strength or at least a pretty pitiful one, at fault.)
We need to ignore how other people do it and find our own way but we do need a way. Dare I call it a routine? One hour at the gym makes me crazy never mind going every day, or second day or once a week. Interestingly enough, I can do a dance class all night and not notice the time. This tells me something and I need to listen. We have this idea that real authors have a code of behaviour, to produce the massive body of published works. These people started sooner so probably have more talent, or more get up and go, have a better work environment or more…….whatever? It doesn’t matter what because when we are comparing ourselves all we know is they produce and we haven’t worked out a way to do the same.
Once my website and blog were in sync and the novelty of a real (that word again) website hit me I actually went into a decline for a few days. I had made a business plan I thought, and I had followed through with actions and in a month or so may have something to show for it and somewhere to show it but what about next time? Will I have enough ideas to do this again and again, to sit and produce on a consistent level? I had thought myself free of negativity; it turns out I was wrong and this was when I came across Jessica’s website.
I have two delightful young friends, University students, who have helped me with my website. Both these young people aside from being helpful technically were also generous with ideas, humour and patience. They are both also very talented and may join us in the next anthology (I know we have to get through this one first). Anyway Sean and Kathy are into graphic novels. I decided to turn my decline into something positive. I wanted to know more about their interests so next time I might be of help to them. I put aside working on my second book (last post I mentioned I wanted to put a teaser chapter up in the first novel) and researched the graphic novel. I learnt something valuable and not about graphic novels. There is a time to step away. It improves your perspective. In my case I found Jessica’s blog and it gave me the insight I needed – you don’t have to be “that guy” who does it a certain way.
Why would you be? Everyone is unique and needs to do things their way. People tell me I should finish something before I start something new but that doesn’t work for me. I have a million ideas and it can drive people a little crazy. Sensible people don’t work that way. You finish one thing and start another. Realistically I know I have to have a better routine. I also know I can’t work on so much at once but a few things, different things, at a time makes me work better, stops me being bored. I actually slowed down to please some people earlier this year and it just about froze me to the spot.
I know concentrating on getting a real job should be my prime concern. It’s not where my heart is, and it isn’t because I feel I should be further ahead in my writing although that does drive me harder. It’s about finally choosing what I want to do and doing it my way at my pace. Procrastinating paid off this time and may do so again. That’s fine as long as I understand I do it because I feel overwhelmed and it’s my way of dealing with this in a productive (okay time-consuming) way. It then becomes a part of my routine.
Why shouldn’t I be overwhelmed when reality dictates the things I love have to take second place to the muse who refuses to give me any guarantee of success? What about my reading time? What about…? And what about…? How can I balance all this? It’s so interesting how everything comes back to previous discussions. You would think if I bothered to write a previous post on the importance of balance I would have learnt something. No wonder I am a voracious reader and don’t want to give it up (no, I don’t mean non-fiction) – that fantasy world is so much nicer. Accepting I have taken on a business is a painful reality. Hard work is never nice.
To go further on this journey I have to answer the following questions. Do I need to change my expectations or do I need to fix things about myself? I’m going with a little of both starting with attitude. While I work on that can you let me know what you think of my snippets from last post and my website? I am happy to have suggestions thrown at me.
Stay tune for more snippets (well, if you’re not going to tell me to stop what can I do) and a catch up on the doings of a fellow Aussie writer, a real one (he is published and getting ready to publish the second book in his series). I am enjoying his progress as much for his books as for the learning curve it offers in this much wanted new life. I hope my posts do the same no matter your chosen dream.