Sometimes my brain gets tripped up on an idea, and it takes years to undo the sprawling mess of nonsense thoughts that result from that one, core nonsense idea.
What I want to talk about today is a prime example.
This is probably going to sound unhinged for a bit––probably because it is unhinged––but here’s how I used to think:
I used to get annoyed every time I had a new idea. Because I was getting ideas faster than I could do anything with them, and they were forming a backlog that was only ever getting bigger and, someday, was likely to overtake and/or crush me. Then I was going to be dead having left a bunch of unfinished stories and projects and it would be such a waste.
I used to wish the ideas would stop for a bit. Or at least slow down so that I was getting them at a much slower rate than I was writing, and therefore I wouldn’t constantly feel torn between all of my various works in progress. If I only had one short story idea per year, for example, I could write that and then still have plenty of time to get all of the words for my novels done. Or vice versa. Ideally, I’d have a ‘one in, one out’ method of working. But only once the backlog was cleared
I genuinely used to stress myself to near sickness over this.
This is a post about publishing, about career-making (or breaking) decisions, and about having a life’s work to leave behind you. In the grand scheme of things, it’s perhaps not the most important topic, but I find importance to be a fairly relative thing.
I feel the need to justify talking about publishing decisions at the minute, given the current state of the world, but I’m not sure how logical that is. What I can say is that it matters to me, personally, and I’ve found the current global situation has given me a little perspective.
Previously, I’ve spoken about my thoughts and feelings about mortality, and I’ve written here ad nauseam about publishing and self-publishing and hopes and dreams. Now I find all these topics overlapping in my brain, mixed in with an unhealthy dose of anxiety.
My thoughts about wanting to see myself in print have gone on a journey from wanting to get really far really fast, to finding folly in being ill-prepared, to slowing things right down and waiting for the right time. And I’ve documented pretty much all of those thoughts as they evolved.
Well, now they’ve moved onto this new place where, on the one hand, I still want to be cautious and careful about making the right decisions but, on the other hand, am worried about what happens if I wait too long and I lose all my opportunities through indecision.
I guess what I’m looking for is a middle ground. I haven’t found it quite yet, but am writing this post as a means to help me do just that. Continue reading →
Sylvia Plath was thirty-years-old when she died. This is a sobering fact I have only just learned, having googled her to directly reference her fig tree analogy.
When I lie awake at night, I often think of the fig tree she described in the Bell Jar. Of all of the opportunities and the paralysing fear over picking one of them.
Somewhat fittingly, I have started to write this post several times, each with a different slant, only to scrap my words and start again. I almost scrapped the idea in its entirety, worried that not being able to select and follow a narrative was a sign that the whole thing wasn’t going to work.
Here’s a fun fact: life has many narratives. That’s the whole point!
I always felt like the fig tree analogy spoke to a deeper truth but from my perspective now, as a thirty-year-old myself, I actually feel there’s a lie at the core of it: “Choosing one meant losing all the rest.”
Choosing means choosing and nothing more. You can change direction down the road.
Changing direction is normal.
Changing direction can be the best thing ever.
Turning down one opportunity might mean it is gone and will never be open to you again but for every turn-off you miss, there is a literal infinite number of others and THAT’S OKAY. In many cases, that’s actually fantastic. Revel in the freedom of this knowledge.
Missed opportunities are not the end of the world, friend. I wish to god someone had sat me down ten years ago and told me that. Continue reading →
Back in February last year, I wrote a blog post aptly titled ‘The Fear‘ in which I talked about how, after several years of trying to finish a novel, I was on the verge of doing just that and was scared sh*tless. Said fear was making me drag that last little bit out longer than it ever needed to be.
Writing the blog post helped.
I finally finished writing the book.
I got even more positive feedback – my writing mentor said it was “good to go.”
It was May by that point. I sent the novel out to an agent that very month and considered the issue resolved. I had got past my hesitation. All was good, right?
Well, I submitted to a second agent in July and then, inexplicably, stopped.
To be completely honest, I had gotten so caught up with other things, I hadn’t even realized I’d stalled again. When I opened my list of agents recently, I was horrified it had been so long since I had contacted any of them. Then, when the horror wore off, I found that old fear hiding underneath.
I hadn’t dealt with it, I’d just put a lid on it and left it on a shelf for a while. Continue reading →
I have wanted to be an author for a very long time and have been working on novel drafts since 2009/2010. That’s nine years ago, give or take, which seems crazy to me.
Undoubtedly, a lot has happened in that time, not least of which, I have improved my writing and related skills.
I’ve said before that the novel I’m working on at the minute (that I started at the beginning of 2017, I think) just feels right to me. I really think this is the one that could see me getting an agent and publisher. I’m also so close to finishing it; on the pinnacle of sending it off for submission. My beta readers have given me nothing but positive feedback (and I’m not even bribing them, promise!).
And here’s the thing: I am scared to go that last mile.
For all I’ve dreamed about coming to this point and talked almost incessantly about nothing else for months of my life at a time – and for all of the hugely terrifying, genuinely important things going on in the world for other people (like, you know, terrorism and Brexit) – I am currently gripped by the sudden realization that this is real. Or it could be.
I’ve built this up in my head and heart for so long, I… I’m not scared I’ll fail, I don’t think. I’m not sure what it is that’s behind the fear, I just know that it’s here and it’s making me hesitate.
Maybe I’m worried I’ll actually succeed – get an agent and publisher – and that it won’t live up to my expectations, which aren’t even that inflated, realistically. I’ve done my research. I’m under no illusions that I’ll become a rich and famous. And yet… there’s something. Continue reading →
Before I get onto the main point of this blog post, I really recommend watching this YouTube video about procrastination. (Yes, I mean that all irony aside.)
I agree with the conclusions of the video – that there are no such people as non-procrastinators, and that procrastination falls into two main types: short term (in which there are set deadlines) and indefinite (in which there are not).
I suffer from the latter.
Now, that isn’t exactly news to me, but what has changed is my approach to the issue. Continue reading →
Before I take part in an event – big or small – my nerves are on edge. I feel sick, and flighty, and weepy.
…so, that’s me, pretty much now-ish. My reading at Women Aloud NI is happening TOMORROW!
Situation clearly dire, I just had to run out for a stack of emergency chocolate (don’t eat your feelings, kids!). And I made myself so flustered that I almost said thank you to the cashier, completely forgetting that I’d just used a self-serve till :-/
Now, seeing as it took me six attempts and three Google searches to spell the word dire correctly, I’m gonna go eat said chocolate and have a little cry to myself.
If you find out you’ve been doxed (had your private information acquired and shared online), you have my genuine sympathies. I’m not suggesting you follow all of the steps below (beyond numbers six, seven, and nine), this is just how I reacted…
Panic a Bit
Wonder if You’re Over-Reacting
Go Through a Few More Cycles of Shock and Fear
Take Screenshots of the Harassment (as evidence, in case the person deletes and denies it)
Find out How People Got Your Details, and Just What Information is Actually Online About You (HINT: It’s probably a lot)
Despair at Humanity
Block and Report the Trolls
Write an Angry Blog Post
There are a few ways I could start this blog post – this is not the blog post I had planned to be writing; I was actually feeling really productive and had planned to get shit done when someone ruined my night; I’ve recently been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and I don’t need any of this stress right now – but all of that boils down to this: last night, some guy I have never met, decided it was appropriate to share part of my address on Twitter because I’m taking part in an event and his partner isn’t.
Yup. For real.
I’ve considered naming and shaming, but have ultimately decided not to give any more details about the situation – at least not right now – beyond saying the person did it to more than just myself, and that he’s been reported to Twitter for it.
Tomorrow, I will be promoting the event as I had originally planned, in a separate post not connected to this negative crap. I don’t want to risk bringing a really positive movement down any further. I just really needed to vent.
This is so far from okay, but I will not be scared into silence. Not over something so stupid.
Having that anxiety disorder I mentioned, and after watching my friend go through a much worse case of doxing just before Christmas, I’d been worried something like this might happen to me, and I recently bought extra security for this site – insuring that my personal details aren’t on who.is, as a result.
The take-away message is that people can still get your details easily enough. I recommend doing some searches to see what’s floating around online about you (start with Google, but also look at pipl.com), and adjusting your privacy settings accordingly.