Do I really want to do this?

So as you know from my last post, I’ve been running on tight deadlines of late, and last week… the proof books didn’t arrive! Eek! I was good though, and I put my pride aside to ask for help. My sister became my PA for the day, and made some calls on my behalf. My boss bought me a hot chocolate, and my parents and my partner helped out, too. It all got sorted, thank goodness, though we did have to make some changes to our illustrator’s edition. It was turning out to be a LOT more expensive (we’ve gone with a printer in NZ), and so we’re selling it as a limited edition run. It’s all done by a real human being, and is even on 100% recycled paper, which I am fantastically pleased about. Not surprisingly, the stressfulness of the situation made me question whether I really wanted to be doing this. I felt like giving up, or just going digital. So – do I really want to do this?

The Test

The answer, of course, is yes. During my ‘I feel sorry for you so I’ll shout you coffee’ brunch with my sister, we talked about this. She said, often before success happens (however you define it), we are tested. I see this as my first big test for indie publishing, and I’ve passed. Perhaps not with flying colours, but I’m through: the launch will be happening, and I’m not totally put off print books.

What about traditional publishing?

My books aren’t the kind of works that traditional publishers are looking for. They cross boundaries in terms of style, vocabulary and themes that contemporary children’s books ‘shouldn’t’ have. They’re short, but not easy readers. They’re open to a wide age range, and the first one features an adult as the protagonist. Publishing independently is really the only way for me.

Can I make a living wage?

Just from writing? Probably not. There are authors who do, of course, but they are few and far between. Most writers, like artists and musicians, make a living from their art and a day job – whether that be teaching, speaking events or something totally different.

The solution

20150307_125141On the weekend, I had the privilege of attending Lizzi Tremayne’s book launch in Waihi. I was treated to my own little retreat at her house, and a beautiful dinner with her family (and her two gorgeous dogs). I took a walk up from ANZAC Cove to Bowentown Heads, an old Māori pa site, and had a lot of time to think and reflect.

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The view from Bowentown Heads

I realised that I am already doing what I want to be doing (with a little prompting from my writer friend, Cassie). My multiple streams of income are writing (children’s books), art (paintings) and teaching (tutoring at Kip McGrath). The only thing is that writing and art aren’t bringing in any income – yet. But it’s a long term game, and I can be patient. I’m playing with merchandise as well, and I have my website set up so I can sell stuff, but I think the bigger market for physical goods will be fairs, like the NZ Independent Book Festival.

The bottom line? Appreciate what I’ve got, be patient, and keep on keeping on!

Living the Dream

It was my birthday last week. I find birthdays can be a good way for the soppy stuff to come out, and this birthday reflected that.

I was surprised by it, not because it was touchy-feely, but because the nature of the touchy-feelyness was about inspiration. More specifically, it was about me being an inspiration.

I was thanked for being an example of someone who was making a career out of her passion; for inspiring people I look up to through my words & positive energy, and for sticking to my guns.

I started writing creatively in January 2013. It’s been exactly two years since my fiction journey began. I’ve had a range of responses, but most people encouraged me to go for it, while exercising caution. You know, don’t give up the day job, and don’t dream too big – you’ll just be disappointed.

Which was fine cause that’s how I saw it. I did allow myself to dream, but I didn’t think too much of my chances. My dream was (is) to live in a cabin on a cliff overlooking the sea, being a full time painter / writer. With cats.

Over the last few months, as I shared more of my progress and my books have been out with betas, the support is insane. There was a point just before my book release where I seriously considered giving up but realised I couldn’t – cause I’d have all of you lot telling me off!

So I guess my point is that while I feel chuffed and truly touched in being an inspiration, or a motivator, or a good example, there’s no WAY I’d be doing this without the support from everyone in my life.

I have to mention my partner specifically here, who convinced me I was good enough and fed me Tony Robbins until I caught on and had a go at this writing thing.

My point is also this: if I can do it, there is NOTHING stopping you.

2015 Writing Round Up

‘Tis the time for goal setting and scrying into the future. Here’s a selection from around the web:

2015 Predictions

2015 Predictions – Russell Blake, Thriller Author

16 Thoughts for Authors/Publishing for 2015- aka Winners Don’t Quit! – Bob Mayer, Factual Fiction Author

Ebook Publishing Gets More Difficult from Here – Here’s How to Succeed – Smashwords Blog

2015 Writing Goals

Writing Plans for 2015 (A.k.a. ThinkKit Prompt #22) – Emma Lindhagen, SpecFic Author

Looking Ahead to 2015 – Hugh Howey, Fiction Author

Writing Plans for 2015 – me!

2014 Reflections

Indie Publishing – What I learned in 2014 – Serenity Woods, Romance Author

2014 Round-Up – JC Hart, SpecFic Author

My Spastic and Poorly Organized Looking Back at 2014 Post – Mike Grosso, Children’s Author

Writing Plans for 2015

Next year will be my first year of being a ‘real’ author. This year was about embracing my writer identity, pushing my own creative limits, and above all else about my mental & emotional wellness.

Next year is about the beginning of a new career.

Now, I know things will change. They always do. My plans will adapt, but I firmly believe in having goals, having a plan, and adapting as I go.

Last week, my aim was to get my business plan done. It’s pretty much complete, but it has a few gaps which I’ll fill in over the next couple of weeks. I also wrote up a production schedule for 2015.

After all, I am a business.

Blogging

My blogging schedule will change next year. I’ll be doing two posts a week on here for writers & creatives, and one on my author website for my readers.

On this blog, my weekly posts will be:

  • a reflection of the week
  • a post for writers – mostly about the writing business, or something I’ve learnt

On my author blog, I’m aiming for one post every 1-2 weeks, which will centre around my fiction.

Fiction Writing

I’m aiming to put out 3 chapter books (two of which are already written), and 2 picture books. They’ll probably be wordless as I really enjoyed that form of storytelling. This is about the number I’m hoping to produce every year.

I’m also intending to put out an anthology with children’s work in it. I do need to do some more research on this, but if all goes well it’ll become an annual project.

Painting

I only ended up doing a couple of stand-alone works this year but I’m aiming to have a collection by this time next year so I can start doing regular painting exhibition as well. Regular meaning every 1-2 years, probably.

A short reflection on 2014

At the start of the year, my goals were to be healthier and happier. I intended to do this through daily habits: reading, writing, meditation and yoga.

While I am much happier and healthier, I didn’t stick to my daily habits. I’m actually okay with this, as I have sporadically been doing yoga and meditation, as well as walking to get my physical fitness back. This is definitely something I’ll be working on more in the new year – something I’ve begun to work on more in the last month, actually.

Technically, I’ve written and read everyday (well, close enough) but I’d like to get more fiction in next year.

My one word for 2014 was balance, and I’m happy with the balance I’ve achieved. This doesn’t mean equal parts work and play, but that I feel balanced, and my priorities are reflected in my choices, big and small.

Dropping out of #ThinkKit

I’m a committed person. I believe in sticking things out to the end – but I also believe that if we’re not enjoying something, not learning from it, or making a positive contribution to the world then it’s time to stop.

The main reason I signed up for ThinkKit was to give my blogging a bit of oomph, and help me decide what direction I wanted to take my blog next year. Do I want to focus on my fiction more? Do I want to start writing more non-fiction? Do I want to get more – or less – personal?

Well, I noticed that there are posts I’m craving to write, but I can’t because a prompt is in my way. I wanted to write about my One Word for next year, and about how I’m feeling after releasing my first book. I wanted to write about the awesome talk with Joanna Penn this week, and how cool it is to have met up with more writerly folk.

My blog’s about my reflections, my ideas, and my journey as a writer & artist. I decided that a while ago, but fell into a stagnant pool of posting because there wasn’t much learning going on for myself – not because there was something wrong with my blogging. The source info just wasn’t there.

So, I’ve decided to drop out of ThinkKit. I reckon it’s an awesome initiative, and for those of you that can handle daily blogging (my new rule is ‘thou shalt not blog every day’) and aren’t as much of a control freak as I am, keep it up!

Lucky Number One #ThinkKit

One.

I’m learning to focus on one thing at a time.

I’ve brought all the different parts of me under one umbrella, and I don’t feel so scattered anymore. My writing, my painting and my teaching are all about creativity and inspiration.

I will have one book published this year.

My one word for the year was balance – I believe I achieved this. Not in perfection, but in learning to prioritise the things that are important to me.

My one word for next year? Freedom.

What would I change? Nothing. #ThinkKit

As you can tell from the timing of this post, I struggled with this one. Like Emma, I wanted to say ‘world peace’ or something along that line of thought.

I’ve gone with nothing.

Which reminds me of Arthur Dent at the end of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, when he’s asked if he’d like to make any changes to Earth.

There are a lot of things I’d like to change, but when it comes down to it, I don’t think getting rid of them will make us any better off.

Fear, sadness, pain, poverty, judgment – they help us understand ourselves, and each other; they make us stronger; they define hunanity.

Someone else can wave the magic wand – I’d like to see what humanity is capable of on its own.

Week that Was: Shiny New Goals

So despite last week’s enthusiasm, I did have another low week. It came down to having my time dictated by others, and not being able to work on my own projects.

But I kept last week’s goal ineeded to get excited again; I needed shiny new goals!

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I eventually gave up and did a weekend away, with a beach view and a fairly private unit.

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I set goals all evening (well, and had like eight cups of tea), and while my goals weren’t completely new, they had at least been given a new coat of paint.

This week, I’m putting them into a month by month planner, so my bigger goals don’t get lost in the day-to-day tasks.

I’m also trying to not let other people’s time-sucks intrude on my own projects. I have to put ME first.

Writing update? Nothing to report!