Routines and the Haiku

Japanese cropIt has been quite a while since I have posted. I love blogging but it does get hard at times to maintain unless you have a routine.  I read somewhere if you can stick to something for three weeks then you can count on it becoming permanent in your life. We have a resistance at times to things that are good for us, or at least I have especially when it concerns the gym.  I’d be happy to reach three weeks (am waiting for that to happen).

In 2009 studies showed that on average it takes sixty six days for a habit to become ingrained.  This actually makes more sense than the three weeks. Habits don’t happen overnight.  They take commitment and they demand consistency.  Everything we do is a habit of sorts and it is the effort we make that gives us the results we seek.

It occurred to me that the opposite is also true.  If we don’t commit and work on growing that habit then it would disappear and I don’t think it would take sixty six days or even three weeks for that to happen.  Let’s face it; it’s so much easier to let something go than work at keeping it.  It is why relationships fail along with gym memberships. It is hard to find the stamina sometimes to keep going.

These last few months I have struggled with the idea of writing, a common problem for authors. Working so hard on rewrites is disheartening if necessary, especially when funds for this are limited. I have had to learn to do so much myself.  In some ways I have considered this to be a good thing. It means there are ways to do even the impossible but it is the hard road to take and has a huge effect on other aspects of life.  Time for other things ceases to exist. I didn’t mind this part so much but in combination with an immune system that reacts to stress, some unexpected problems and relocating, insidious threads have managed to undermine an already delicate self-esteem.

This is the problem with humans.  We are frail and falter easily. I have spent a lifetime wanting to write and a mere three months to convince myself it is all too hard and I probably lack the necessary talent in any case. I do know better than to think this way.  However the same brain that says don’t be ridiculous also says you’re tired, you’re not doing it right, and tells you to let it go and find something else that is within your realm of capabilities.

Good habits, unless ingrained derail at faster than a speeding bullet superman speed. Believing you can takes a long time to accept, believing you can’t because you’re not good enough, barely a second. I wonder how many of you can relate to this.  Have you let life steer you away from your dreams?  It is here that habits, the good ones, can kick in if we let them and make the difference.  For me it wasn’t about writing every day or going on social media, although these things matter.  It was about reminding myself of what I can do rather than what I can’t do.

Somewhere in this dark period my eldest daughter decided to drag me to Japan.  She didn’t have to pull too hard as Japan is one of the loves of my life, and we have extended family in Tokyo (increased by one adorable baby girl in March) but it was out of the norm and just what I needed.

You see, I absorb other cultures really well. I learned this as a migrant child, learned to thrive on differences.  I am inspired by them and so I let the beauty of the Japanese people and their country work their magic. I put my novels aside and instead concentrated on the disciplined art of Haiku. This wonderful medium expresses much with very little and the challenge to master this was exciting.  I like other cultures and I like words and so I wrote. I don’t know if I have succeeded in disciplining my use of words the way I should but I don’t care.  Sometimes it is enough to try.  If only the love I feel comes through then it’s enough.  It means I am on track again.

photo 1

White black mountain calls

Resolutions in the mist

Ice on lava fire

 

No idle hands speak

Occupation is fierce

Beauty in movement

 

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Cherry pink blossom

Blood dissolving on white petals

A joyous harmony

 

Honour flutters soft

Harsh creations sing a song

Peaceful warrior heart

photo 3

Busy lives encased

Skylines hold concrete glory

Earth ripples power

 

A smile and warmth abides

Climbing embers reach limits

Cleansing fire rebuilds

 

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Differences fade

West and east under the rain

Misty skins dazzle

 

Fast lane hunger

Time for history to amble

True essence prevails

 

Until next time

Barb

Business or Art? Is there a difference?

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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?laptop-1205256__180[1]

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.

graphic novels

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.

now-1272358__180[1]    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.

Alla prossima

Barb