Saturday, 25 August 2012

Coping with change and my Big News

This change I can deal with.
Image courtesy of Rebecca Barray WANA Commons

I'm no longer big on change. I say "no longer" because I used to be all for it.

Years ago, when a club I was involved with debated whether to cut ties with our existing sports club or go in a new direction with a new sports club, I voted for change. I was all for a new start and a chance to build something new and exciting from the ground up. In hindsight, we should have looked better before we leapt, but that's a whole other story.

Back to my point.

I now like being comfortable. I like the familiar. It's easy. It's known. It's not scary. It's safe.

When something happens to change that?

I worry. I panic. I get agitated and angry. I've also been known to swear. Or, in the case of TV shows, stop watching altogether. ("They've changed time slots again?? I'm just not going to watch any more. That will show them!" Sidenote - I really do miss Bones and Greys. Sigh.)

Sometimes, change can be sudden and unexpected.

Like last night, when we went to do our grocery shopping, we realised the shop was changing its layout. I could tell something was up as soon as I could see the toilet paper at the top end of the last aisle - it's usually at the bottom end. (Ha ha! I didn't know I'd made that joke until I was retyping this post.)

I was immediately on my guard. Lo and behold, the softdrinks were no longer with the chips, but with the condiments and sauces (WTF?) Thankfully, they'd left the chocolate in the same aisle as it had always been. I guess someone in management was smart enough not to change that aisle around.

After some bitching and whinging, my wife slapped me and told me to get a grip. No, not really, but I did get over it. The aisles that were finished didn't look so cluttered and apart from having to search for a few things, the shopping trip was still relatively painless.

Some change though, is a slow burn of acceptance.

Which brings me (finally) to my Big News.

Short version: Wifey has a new job based in another town and we're moving. (Saying that fast is like ripping off a bandaid and makes it seem easier than it is.)

Long Version: "The Plan" has always been for me to give up work and focus on my writing "at some time in the future."

That future is fast approaching.

It's exciting and scary and OMGWTF! all at once.

We've been planning this move since this time last year when Wifey landed the job temporarily. We discussed the possibility that it could become permanent which would mean a move to a small town further west.

At first I was like "no way", but after many long nights of drinking discussion I realised what a great opportunity it is for us both career-wise.

Wifey gets the opportunity to take a higher position doing something she loves, and I finally get the opportunity to stop working for someone else and start really working on getting myself published.

What did we do to celebrate the fact that we'd be dropping to one wage? We went out and bought an investment property. Yay! (Face palm.)

Leaving aside that financial decision (it will be better for us long term, I promise Wifey!), the road to acceptance has been a long one.

The thing is, I never actually thought I'd be able to take time off of my real job to concentrate on my writing. It was always on my wish-list but never, until now, attainable.

So when the opportunity arose, I railed against it. (You did what?) I actually started talking myself out of my dream of becoming a published author, able to live off the money I make from my writing.

Stupid really, but I was scared. Scared of failing, scared of writing crap, scared of letting down everyone who supports me (even though I know they think I'm crazy). Scared of letting go of a great job with great people that brings in safe money so that we can live a luxurious comfortable life filled with holidays and shopping and paying off our mortgage.

As with all change, there's a transition period. Right now we're in the "Holy shit we need to finish renovating the house so someone will pay us enough money to pay out the mortgage and let us get a new car" phase.

After that will come the "I can't believe no-one will buy our house for a gazillion dollars, it's so worth it" phase, immediately followed by "We'll never have another first house, ever!" phase.

Then there's the "I NEVER want to move again" phase as we unpack and set up a new house in a new town where we know only the people Wifey works for.

But after ALL of that, will be the (hopefully) very long phase of "S R Silcox, full-time author."

I'll be sure to let you know how that goes.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Re-defining Failure - Writing Update

Contemplating my next move, even though I have no idea how to play chess.

Things have been quiet around here over the past few weeks, and not much writing has been done. Not for want of trying - I've managed to get nearly a thousand words done over my last couple of days off, but it's not nearly as much as I was planning for this time of the year.

Couple of reasons.

Firstly, it's tax season here Down Under, which means my day job has gone from cruisey to hectic in one fell swoop. The problem with being an accountant, especially at this time of year, is that it's extremely hard to relax after a big day.

I wake up in the early hours of the morning after dreaming about tax issues for clients, and come up with solutions in the shower. Yeh, so not fun.

So as a matter of survival, I'm not writing from Tuesday through Friday (my work days). My brain is fried enough as it is without adding the extra burden of having to come up with a few hundred words on any number of my current WIP and then feeling guilty when those words don't materialise.

Secondly, we're (Wifey and I) madly trying to finish the house renovations so we can get the house on the market for a big move, which I'll detail in an upcoming post. That has basically written off my weekends completely, since they're currently spent sanding, painting, puttying, gardening and deciding on paint colours and working out how we're going to dress our house up to look her absolute best when she's finished.

The good thing about the renovating though is that it stimulates the creative side of my brain. So instead of wearing me out, while I'm doing those mundane jobs around the house, I've allowed my muse to sneak down the dark alleys in my brain, seeking out new and interesting characters and plot points.

So far, I've re-worked my YA WIP (if only in my head), which is now 40-50% complete on the first draft, and I've come up with two new plot twists and a new character in that same WIP which adds some spice. I'm finally happy with the direction that WIP is going in.

So much so, it's the one I have ear-marked to concentrate on above all others to get a first draft done by the end of January. I'm more excited about that WIP than I have been about any of them in a long time.

Great for my confidence.

I've also been thinking about how I want to progress on this writing path I've chosen, and what little of the Olympics I watched has made me do a bit of soul-searching. Winning gold is a massive achievement for any athlete, but so is winning silver or bronze, and for some, just competing at the Olympics is a success.

In light of that, I've decided to re-define my idea of failure.

Notice I've chosen to redefine failure as opposed to sucess.

I don't want to move the goal-posts I've set for myself with regards to what I want to achieve with my writing. I do, however, want to remove the barriers I keep coming up against (self-imposed I might add), in order to start achieving those little successes that build up into big ones.

I've written about my fear of failure in an earlier post. It's always hanging around in the background, needling me into submission, making me throw my hands up in frustration and walk away from the keyboard with nothing to show for it except a blank page and an intense feeling of guilt and heartbreak. All because my current definition of failure is zero words per day.

But no more.

My new definition of failure is hating writing. If I ever get to that point, that's when I've failed. If I ever get to the point where I just can't physically make myself write one word, that's when I step back and reconsider my options. 

Right now? I still love writing. I love the feeling of being in "the zone" when words come easily.

I also love the feeling of bleeding out a hundred or so words when they're not so easy to come by. In some ways, I feel more triumphant on those occasions because I've managed to get words down in spite of  feeling tired/like crap/dragging myself kicking and screaming to the keyboard.

So the new plan, until my situation changes in a few months, is to only write on my Mondays off. Whether that's a blog post or outlining my YA WIP, it doesn't matter. Words are words. If I find myself with a spare hour or so during the week where my brain isn't filled with tax stuff, I'll work on the plot or character summaries, and also re-jig my writing plan to take my upcoming situation into account.

At the very least, I want to stay connected to my WIP so that when I have the time to work on it, I know where I'm headed. That time will come soon enough - I just need to be ready for it.

Every writing day will start with one question - "Do you hate writing?" If the answer is no, then there's no excuses. I must write.

On that note, I'm off to work on the new scenes my muse kindly offered up to me over my morning coffee.