The run up to Christmas is always a busy time in our house and so it’s most inconvenient that in spite of all of the things I need to do, I have a nagging desire to sit down and write. Trouble is, I have no idea what I want to write about. Only an overwhelming need to communicate in the best way that I, as a writer, know how to do. So, here I am. Writing. Without any real purpose or narrative, but more to scratch an itch and see what comes of it. And look, in spite of not really being sure of what I wanted to say, I have already created more than 100 words! Not a bad start.
On reflection, maybe that is exactly what I want to share. The idea that you don’t always have to know where you are going with something in order to make a start. You don’t always have to wait until you are focused on a goal or ambition. You can always just put your feet on the floor and get going anyway.
When I look back over the past year I find it hard to believe how much I have learned and how much has happened thanks to that very thought process. At the beginning of 2015 I had big dreams and high expectations. From what I perceived at the time, I was so close to realising those dreams that I could almost touch it. But by early Spring, I was having to face the harsh reality that my fairy tale wasn’t going to happen. Or at least, wasn’t going to happen in the way I had anticipated or expected it should. For a while there I felt like a complete failure. I was riddled with shame and overwhelmed by negative thoughts and beliefs about myself and my abilities. I very seriously considered giving up writing altogether. Because you see, at that time I had built up such an enormous vision of how things should be that, in many ways failure was not only possible, it was highly likely. And failure can be paralysing. Failure can become a 10ft high wall with no possible route around it or over it.
Trouble was, I didn’t want to fail. Instead, I accepted that my dream was just that – a fantasy ideal that would always be tricky to live up to so there was no point beating myself up about it. I told myself to grow up a bit. Get real. Take some control over the elements I could actually influence and drop the rest. Please understand that this was not about giving up on my dreams. This was about getting to work rather than staring at the heavens in blind faith, hoping that my day would come.
Anyway, long story short. I failed. I failed to live up to my fantasy ideal. I failed to ride that rainbow coloured unicorn to the land of make believe. I accepted it, then decided that it was not over. I was not done. In fact, I was just getting started. And I’m oddly glad I failed. Because since the Spring, I have managed to achieve the following (hold your breath, there’s a bit of boasting coming next, and I’m not sorry);
- Published an eBook (harder than it seems).
- Published a paperback (also harder than it seems).
- Learned book cover design – I love collecting new skills!
- Got my book onto the shelves of Waterstones.
- Got my book into libraries – you can now loan it from 110 libraries in the South West.
- Became a teacher and public speaker – more on that in 2016!
- Been featured as a cover girl on a newspaper!
- Been shortlisted for a writing prize and had my book shortlisted for a book award.
- Received messages of support from best-selling authors and a leading business woman.
- Had my book featured in a ‘Top Reads of 2015’ list.
- Had fantastic reviews online and personal messages of support from readers.
- Written or contributed to features for Vintage Life Magazine, Glamour Magazine, Cornwall Today Magazine, Western Morning News/West Magazine, Experience Life Magazine, MyWeekly.
- I’ve given two live radio interviews (so far).
- Launched a writing retreats business in the hope of supporting other writers.
- Learned a bit about graphic design so that I can promote that business – another new skill!
- Made new friends in the writing, book blogging and social media communities.
- Realised just how supportive my own friends, family and local community are.
- Learned that if you just start asking for the help and support you need, people might just say yes, and you might just move one step closer to where you want to be.
- Recognised that whilst my writing is not perfect, it is 100% worthy of finding an audience.
- Most important of all, I learned that I can finish things. I can get the job done, and do it well if I just take it steady and don’t put too much pressure on myself. You know, calm down a bit and get a grip.
Rather selfishly I have just figured out that I didn’t write this article for any of you. I wrote it for me. As a reminder that things didn’t turn out quite as I’d hoped or expected, but things didn’t turn out so bad either. In fact, I think it all went pretty well. Thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way.
Merry Christmas and here’s to failing at fantasy ideals but realising potential and creating success anyway in 2016.
To order a copy of The Doctor’s Daughter click here.
For more details of residential writing retreats and short courses in Cornwall and to request a brochure click here.
To borrow my rainbow coloured unicorn, click here.
All images sourced via Pinterest.com