I can’t be the only one wondering who I am after the year we’ve had. My job basically disappeared overnight: schools closed to visitors, publishers slowed right down, and my writing time was instead taken up with homeschooling my kids.
Things are readjusting themselves again and there are signs that things will pick up, but I’ve gone a whole year without really doing much of the biggest part of my life and it’s only now that I’m starting to wonder whether I’ve changed too much to go back to where I was and what I was doing. I’ve spent so much time at home that it’s starting to feel like my safe space in a more restricting way than I thought: the idea of setting off on a two-hour car journey to a school to do events now makes me feel more nervous than excited. Part of me thinks this is pure laziness: I’ve got used to a quieter, slower pace of life. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if you put me back in front of a hall of 300 kids and give me a microphone, I will end up BUZZING because the performer inside me is still there. But part of me also recognises that publishing books is HARD and unforgiving (I don’t mean from the readers’ point of view – they’re the best bit! – but from the pure business side) and not having to face that has been…quite nice, in a way…?
Don’t get me wrong: if someone offered me a contract to write something I loved, I’d be THERE, I totally would! But contracts don’t just turn up, on the whole – you have to go out and look for them. And maybe the past year has removed some of my inner confidence. Peeled away a few layers of skin.
We’re strangely delicate creatures under all our multitasking, signing of petitions, stiff-upper-lip get-on-with-itness. I’ve been very lucky to have always had a degree of self-esteem that has kept me going through several careers and afloat during rough times. But even I have had anxiety and horribly low times recently, and often there’s nothing particularly to cause it on that day. I know that many people have found themselves made smaller, simply counting it a win to carry on existing.
Several things keep me going: my kids, of course, who I like more and more as they get older. They’re turning into such interesting people! My art, which has included painting and resin in the past year. And, actually (whispers), a new book. Not for children this time. A book for adults.
I said I’d never write one. I didn’t think I had anything to say to adults, and adults are (let’s face it) less immediately engaging than kids, who are so very very ALIVE and PRESENT and going through everything for the first time.
But. There you go. I’m only 30k words into it, so don’t get excited, because adult books are LONG, and oh my goodness it’s taken me months to get this far (in fact, I had the idea for it three years ago, so it really is taking ages) but I am really, really enjoying writing it. It’s about women. And magic, but not of the wizard/wand variety. Bonds of nature, that kind of thing. Family. Disappointment, and the true meaning of contentment. When it’s finished, I want it published. Very much. But for now, I’ll carry on adding a few hundred words when I can.
Have you changed? Are you the same person you were this time last year?
Sending warm wishes to all.