Sunday blog 1. 29th August 2021
Your average audio book takes between 6 and 12 hours to listen to. Think about it. Imagine if you could sit down over a weekend and talk into your voice memo for ten hours and knock out a book. Technically, you could, but in reality, books can stretch over years and even decades, snarled up in the dance with fear and its most recognisable face, procrastination. Procrastination only has left feet and it stomps like a bastard.
My first self-published book, a memoir entitled Not My Story took 14 years to finish. To be fair, in part the procrastination was waiting for change to happen in the victim services sector. I had to let that shit go and hit “publish”.
I started the next book project fairly soon afterward, so like, six years ago. It was as daring a project as I could imagine – a novel. Between then and now I have posted triumphant pictures of different stages of writing and editing. Perhaps I have not shared as generously the smoking ruins of my writing project after two different mentors, one year apart, deemed the manuscript both unpublishable, and well, unfixable.
Recently I read a Seth Godin’s latest book – The Practice – Shipping Creative Work. It’s impossible to read a Seth Godin book without feeling like a terrible slouch, an amateur procrastinator. I mean, the man blogs daily. Daily. But much as I hate to admit it, he is right. Creativity is a choice. You choose, you turn up, you create whether or not you’re inspired. He always highlights that turning pro means writing when you don’t feel like it, keeping on going when you feel defeated. Shipping the work means putting it out into the world. He insists creatives need to keep on shipping creative work because that’s what creatives do when they turn pro(fessional).
But finishing a book and shipping it is hard. Really hard. I have cast about for support in all sorts of ways over the past six years. I have tried two different online writing courses, two different mentors, I am in an online writing group and have a buddy I catch up with. I have burned through several working titles and endless hours of writing and editing. These number hours of course have been dwarfed by the sheer volume of hours of procrastination and self-doubt. The draft has ballooned to 120,000 words, then been trimmed back to 80,000 words, before being eviserated to 35,000 words.
Recently the Four Centres Emerging Writers Publishing Program caught my eye. It offers workshops, mentoring and a path to publication over a two year period. I nearly didn’t apply. I didn’t want to offer up my crumbling, smoking ruin of a disembowelled manuscript. I am not sure if I have what it takes to realize the initial vision in no matter how many words. Thankfully I decided to apply and take it as feedback. If it was a no, then the shelved manuscript needed to be shredded.
But it was a yes. Yikes. So here I go! Not only am I back in the game, as I have read a Seth Godin book, I now have to blog weekly as well as breathe life into the manuscript.
That is my line in the sand, drawn 29th August 2021. Sunday musings, sharing the stumbles and the wins, closing with anything inspirational I have been listening to. Turning pro.
This week’s inspiration – Marie Forleo’s Podcast series on Love Letters to our Creatives – Seth Godin shares some of his wisdom. The series is a wonderful, short creative pep-up.