Wednesday, 10 February 2016

"It takes as long as it takes." - The Creative Process

"It takes as long as it takes."

This is not my usual kind of post. Normally I blog on the subject of writing advice and while I know that it's just my opinions, it's nice for me and my readers to have insight into my process. That's not what this post is about. Before I go any further, I want to give a little background information. Some of it you'll be aware of if you're a long time reader, but others coming across this for the first time won't know me and my history.

I am a chronically ill indie author. I have several physical conditions that mean I use a wheelchair full time. I can also be seen using oxygen and other medical aids. The exact conditions are not relevant and it's not something that you need to know. I've been sick for about fifteen years, but I also have mental health conditions and have battled with depression and anxiety longer than I've been physically disabled. I was retired from an office job at the age of nineteen, and was told that I probably wouldn't work a conventional job again, so I became a writer. For eleven of those fifteen years I have been a published author, and for the past five years, an indie author. That's the history over with.

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with a very dear friend of mine. She was, at one point, my editor and is the reason that Dying Thoughts - Third Wish, and Waiting On You are as error free as they are. She helped to shape them into the books they have become. We're still really good friends, we were before she was my editor and we will be, I hope, for many more years to come. She is one of two people I know I can go to when the mood hits low and I'm struggling. The other is my carer, and best friend of twenty plus years.

As anyone with depression will know, it has it's ups and downs, as do most chronic conditions. For the majority of the time, I am well medicated and stable, but there are times, like recently, when I fall into a black hole and can't quite find it in myself to climb out. This is one of those times. I'm climbing out slowly, but as I make my way to the top, the odd rock slips and and I falter or fall and have to start anew. I was talking with my friend, Kim, about all the wishes I had for my author career and how I was beating myself up because I hadn't achieved all my goals of 2015, and was nowhere near the ones for 2016. I know that may sound strange because, come on, it's February! But it's how my mind works.

We talked back and forth about the things I had accomplished and I kept knocking it back with how I'd been doing this for over a decade and yet I still hadn't gotten very far. I was beating myself up over not being a best-seller when in truth, it's only been five years since I properly entered the indie author world. She kept making good points, but with the blackness of the depression, I couldn't see them. And then she said one thing to me that has stuck with me. "It takes as long as it takes."

It's a simple phrase isn't it? One that really shouldn't hold as much meaning to me as it did. I'm asking of myself the impossible, to have reached the stars because I had been trying for so long, yet what Kim said is true. It will take as long as it takes. The point is, to not give up, to not let whatever life throws at you steer you off course completely. I mean, it has an effect, of course, when I spent a week in the hospital, I was going to miss out on writing, that's just a fact, but that doesn't mean that I'd failed and should just give up. It will take as long as it takes to write these books, to get those reviews, to sell those copies, to get that signing, to get the readership you want and to reach the place you want to be. To be honest, you never stop aiming higher as an indie author, or in any dream job, I don't think anyone reaches a point where they stop dreaming, stop setting goals for themselves and aiming to do better. I could be wrong, but for me my first dream was to have my book on people's bookshelves, then it was to have more books, then to finish ten and so on and so on. Dreaming is about aiming for something just out of reach and striving to achieve it.

But, and I often forget, as I'm sure you have, it takes as long as it takes. Don't fail to dream because you missed one deadline. That doesn't make you a failure or a fake. It makes you human. Stand back up, climb out of the pit, keep going and whenever that whisper of rejection or criticism comes to you, remember it takes as long as it takes.

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  1. I'm glad to have read this. I too was having a bout of beating myself up for not achieving everything I should have this year or last year. Keep up the good work, Joey! Don't ever stop writing because of self-doubt. It's the worst, but it is beatable.

    1. Thanks, when my carer read it through she said it was true of so many things. We put these expectations on ourselves, and as Kim said, it never stops being "worked" on, as in you don't reach a point where you say you're done. It's an ever climbing hill. You just have to stay on it and go at your pace.

      Thanks for reading!