I know it is the last post of the month so I’m meant to be doing my author top ten, but with my last day of work quickly approaching, I just wanted to expand a little on my expectations for my time off.
Firstly, let me quell any concerns you may have if you think I’m expecting to write and sell a novel that is somehow going to make me rich. Even if Penguin did reply to my email and said they wanted to publish my novel, from that moment to the first royalty cheque would be at least 18 months, more likely 2+ years. This time off is not about making money out of writing, I know that I will be going back to work at the end of it.
For most of us who write, it is not a choice. We get grumpy and guilty when we don’t do it, and we are happy to miss out on everything else in life when we do write. After a while it isn’t about how many people read your story (and let’s not even talk about how many actually like it) eventually it is just about getting the story written. You want to breathe life into that thing that constantly haunts you.
In the past few years I’ve come to terms with the fact that not everyone likes what I write. My story Stanhope’s finest was a lot of fun to write, and it is the sort of thing I want to do more of, but lots of people don’t like that story, some have said they hated it, but I know there is a small group out there who like Greta as much as I do.
So this time off is not about getting anything published, I will try, don’t get me wrong, but if I come out of the next 3 months with a finished first draft of my next novel I’ll be happy. The best thing about that target is it is 100% within my sphere of influence, unlike getting published which seems to be about 60% luck.
OMG! On Tuesday morning I was busily building a workflow to back up a form I had just delivered, when I got a call from a quiet room. It was my boss’s, boss’s boss. When I walked into the room there was also a girl from HR in there, who looked up at me with red-rimmed eyes, she had clearly been having a tough day. My heart beat so fast I thought they would see the throb of my pulse in my throat. I couldn’t believe it, it was finally happening… I was being made redundant!
What a rollercoaster of emotions I have been on since then. I read the little flyer they gave me (as much to touch it and prove to myself that it really happened and it wasn’t just a dream) and I was meant to go through anger, sadness, acceptance etc. Well I bounced between those with alarming speed. Though sheer joy also kept popping up, and lucky for me that’s where I seem to have landed now.
All my sadness was about missing the wonderful people I work with, I feel like I am abandoning my team and that I’ll never see them again. Neither of those things are true and I have now accepted that. I also know that it was time for me to go a while back, so the universe is now kicking me out to do what I didn’t have the courage to do myself. Thank you Universe.
I have two weeks before my last day, so I have booked myself solid with lunches, coffees, oh and I have some forms and workflows to finish. But the biggest, most important thing I’m going to do with this last fortnight of work is to plan out my time off. My writers group gave me some great tips, so I’m going to get started now. Wish me luck!
Sometimes I worry that I waste too much of my life waiting for things. Waiting for a redundancy at work, waiting for an answer on a story I’ve submitted, waiting for something, anything to happen to break me out of my weekly schedule. If I was a character in a novel I’d be edited out for being too passive.
I often say to a good friend of mine (who gets my 10am email every work day) that she and I need to take more action. Why is it that when I have a novel where my character is being too passive I know what to do to get them active again? I have no idea what I should be doing to take control of my life.
I know this is just my annual life crisis cranking up a notch, but maybe instead of just riding it out I should do something crazy? Is this why so many people my age renovate their houses? They are just after a comfortable change? I don’t think I’ll be satisfied with a comfortable change. I have a feeling I’m about to put myself through a very uncomfortable change. I also think it is exactly what I need.
I know that I don’t really suffer from writers block. I suffer from not writing. It’s not that the muse is missing, the ideas aren’t coming, or my brain is shutting down on me, it is pure and simple that I don’t sit myself down at the computer and force myself to write.
How do I know this? Because this week I wrote. I wanted to enter a competition which closed at the end of May, but it had opened at the beginning of January. I had two stories which needed a bit of work, but I neglected to do it for weeks and weeks on end. Then the deadline was on my doorstep, so I sat down and did it.
I wrote several thousand new words and edited nearly seven thousand words all up. Not a huge number, but it is a number. It’s a number that really I should be getting each week. I did that number with all the same work, family and social pressures that I’ve had ever other week when I did not write.
I don’t have another deadline looming, so I know I am running the very real risk of slipping back into doing no writing. But at least now I will see that for what it really is; laziness.