Thank you again to everyone who played a part in the launch! It was by all accounts a wonderful afternoon (you can read Mayur’s account here) and there were many wholesome conversations about walking, mental health, and the importance of connecting with the outdoors.
The librarians were amazing. They made trees, stole borrowed pot plants, set up and packed down, made tea and coffee, and generally put a whole lot of energy and effort into the day. I look forward to working with them again!
Contributors to the book Mayur Wadhwani, Grace Penlain, and Anya Forest all spoke, reading some of their contribution, and we were treated to an awesome stop-motion video (below) by Theo Foyster.
Shout out to the goody bag sponsors: Auckland Transport, New Zealand Walking Magazine, Blants, and PhysioLogic; and to the spot prize sponsors: Louise de Varga, Keitha Smith, J. C. Hart, Erena Waho Thompson; and to the event sponsors: U Go Aloe, The Magic Brush, and Auckland Council. Thanks for making the day fantastic!
And following on from Monday’s little rant / big lesson… I was listening to Joanna Penn’s podcast the other day (which I haven’t been listening to as much as I used to), and it was an episode about author mindset. I think it was just after she’d released her book on that topic.
Anyway, she was being interviewed and she talked about one of the ‘problems’ that many indie authors have is not thinking long-term. When I finished The Caretaker of Imagination(TCOI), my intention was to keep publishing books in a loose series (which I have), at a rate of 3-4 per year (which I haven’t). She emphasised that if you stick with it, you’ll have a backlist in no time, and that’s the best thing you can do for your career.
Originally, my vision was that by my 31st birthday, in January 2020, I would have a backlist of about 20 books. This would be a solid platform for myself as an author.
So what went wrong? When writing TCOI, I was a bit nervous about my lack of writing experience, but confident that with constructive criticism, lots of editing, and my love of children’s literature I would be able to produce an acceptable book. I did, and then I wrote another one, Lucy’s Story: The End of the World, which I was actually really happy with (see video below).
And then I hit a snag. I received some very un-constructive criticism, and I started comparing my work unfavourably against others. I was told the way things were done, and they weren’t always what I was doing. I started taking any feedback that was given and using it to reinforce the belief that I sucked at writing. I started listening to the rules and becoming scared of breaking them. I wasn’t making a profit, and I took that as meaning I was a failure.
Because I’m stubborn, I dragged myself through a couple more books, but they took a long time, and I was dealing with the voice of self-doubt on a constant basis. I wasn’t as proud of them as I was of TCOIor of Lucy’s Story, because the criticism and rules of other people were always in the background, ready to speak up at the hint of any praise.
What comes to mind is that old adage – the best time to plant a tree is ten years ago; the next best time is today. If I’d stuck with my original schedule, I’d have about ten books in the series by now. I have four – not even halfway.
I don’t regret the non-fiction books I’ve published in the meantime, I love that I made time for painting, and for playing with zines. Both I Am A Writer andI Am An Artistwere fun to write, helpful to other people (both children and adults, surprisingly), and it was a great opportunity to work with people whom I admire. But my day job is part time, and I only started studying this year. If it hadn’t let the criticism get to me, there’s no reason why I couldn’t have done both the fiction and non-fiction books.
So this is me committing to myself. I know my books have value, and I know there are readers who love my weirdness. There are many, many more stories I want to tell, so I’m going to plant that tree today to grow my backlist, build a career that I am proud of, and contribute my unique voice to the literary landscape.
So I’m trying to get a weekly vlog going, for a couple of reasons.
One is that video is not really my thing and I’m trying to challenge myself.
Two is that this year is flexible for me in terms of my creative output and the media/formats I will use. I’m not sure what my journey as an artist / creator is going to look like, so creating weekly vlogs will be a way to reflect and try to join the dots in hindsight.
Three (and probably most important) is that video is a fantastic way to really connect with each other across the interweb.
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