This time of year always makes me itchy to move forward. Is it the snowdrops, and the green shoots of daffodils bravely spearing through the frost? perhaps. Perhaps it’s the subliminal effect of blackbirds beginning to sing in the morning, the way I now sit at my desk in the early morning writing hour and see the sunrise, rather than the dark. And it is writing that I am doing now, every day. A while a go (a year? Two?) I began to change practice. I wanted to move away from so much workshop facilitating and teaching, and work on progressing my own writing career, but I wanted to do it in a way that meant that my life had a slower pace, I wanted to grow into myself, grow into my work. Focussing on my own work over facilitating and helping to develop other people’s work meant that, shock horror, I accomplished some of the things on my long term plan and took several steps towards being paid as a creative writer. My dream is to be a writer, that one day I will have that as my main focus, that all things that I do that are not writing will facilitate the creativity and peace needed to write. It feels like a very 19th century sentiment, to have a goal that involves simply living and absorbing, thinking and interpreting life in order to create. We live in a society in which everything is geared towards success, and success equates to popularity, it is difficult to identify the core of the creative process, which is the creative process itself, the development of the artist and their discoveries of communication, connection, which is then shared. Or something less pretentious.
January was a month of an absolute grinding To Do list, funding application, tax return, judging two poetry competitions, mentoring, setting up courses and on top of that trying to prioritise work on a book that now has a deadline (more on that in another blog) . It meant that the magazine I run got way behind, there was no time to work on it. At the end of the month, as the flood waters of work receded, I began to think about how this all fits in to my desire for a more focussed, less fussy life, the creative goal. I realised I’d reached yet another place of decisions. Something has to go. I worked so hard to pare back the workload I was carrying last year, taking a pay cut along the way, and found that switching focus had worked well enough that I need to make more changes. I became a little stuck, not by the idea of change itself, but by the idea that changing my work would impact on other people. Stuff that I’d been able to fit in (endorsements, for example) would have to be turned down more and more, along with other paid work, in order to move towards a different kind of life. It feels like turning an enormous ship, changing direction, moving something that is zipping along under its own momentum and turning it towards something else. There is the fear, the fear that all self employed people carry, that changing direction might be the wrong choice, it might mean accidentally tipping all your passengers into the ocean, and what do you do then? (I’m really pushing this analogy).
I’m starting the next phase of changes slowly. I’ve decided to start with my newsletter and my blog, combining them and switching over to a substack, which feels like it has more scope to be a substantial project on its own. I’m hoping I’ll be able to take my wordpress blog followers with me automatically, and my mail chimp followers, but I haven’t quite figured it out yet. There’ll be a link to the substack in the next couple of weeks anyway, if you want to come and join me over there.
There are other big changes happening, but I’ll talk about those another time.
Thanks for listening to the navel gazing, let me know if you’ve had similar experiences turning your ship, setting up a substack or slowing your life down.
until next time