Creative reorientation!

Happy New Year everyone!

At this time of year, a lot of people create resolutions, many of which last all but two days. Almost inherent in a New Year’s resolution is the admission that, although you say you will, you know you’re not going to follow through with it for long. It’s like you’re acknowledging something you know you ought to do, and are willing to make a half-hearted attempt at, but ultimately it doesn’t matter that much if you do or don’t.

Because let’s face it, if something is truly important — something you absolutely have to do, because bad things would happen if you don’t — it wouldn’t simply be a New Year’s resolution. It’d be an imperative, a decisive goal, or something you just simply do without even having to think about it.

So, no New Year’s resolutions for me! Not because I think I’m perfect (ha!), but simply because that’s not the way I do things. Instead, I take this time to stop and reflect on what’s going on in this thing I call, for lack of a better term, ‘my life’. New Year is, for me, a time for reflection, reorientation and recalibration.

Some of the questions I ask myself are: What do I really want to do, be and achieve in the coming year? What do I feel my focus should be? What are my priorities?

I don’t let my mind answer these questions as much as my heart. I often think there’s a disconnect between mind and soul. The rational, logical answers — those things I think I ‘should’ want — are rarely the ones that genuinely excite me and give me that wonderful little ‘kick’ that arises when I just know something’s right. Instead, I ‘feel’ my way toward the answers. If it doesn’t feel great — and I mean really great — then there’s very little point pursuing it, because firstly I’ll probably struggle to muster the necessary motivation, and secondly because even if I do get it, it’s unlikely to provide that much satisfaction in the long-run. The heart has to lead the process; if the heart isn’t engaged, then there’s not much point going down that path and you might as well stick with ‘resolutions’.

My focus for 2012 is shifting from visual art to writing and publishing. I’ve now written two novels and a non-fiction book and it’s time to actually do something with them. I started work on my first book when I was only about 16. Just last night I took out the gigantic folder of notes, outlines, manuscript pages, drawings and sketches that’s amassed over the past 15 or so years. I felt myself on the verge of tears. I realised just how much of my life I’ve actually invested in this project — not just an enormous amount of time, but more energy, passion and love than can ever be measured. I often considered my first novel to be my “life’s work”. Maybe that sounds overblown and naff, but I don’t care, if I’m honest I still feel that way. Yet after all this time and the thousands upon thousands of hours I put into making this dream a reality, the books are just sitting on a shelf in my room, read by only a handful of people. That’s kind of sad. In fact, it’s very sad. I’m going to change that in 2012.

I’ve already sent samples from the first book to a number of agents and publishers, and among the standardised rejection slips I actually got some encouraging comments which truly helped when I started to doubt the work itself. Now the dust has settled a bit, I’m ready to move forward. ‘Key of Alanar’, my first book was a tough sell primarily because it’s hard to fit into a neat category. Frankly I’m still not entirely sure what genre best classifies it. If I started from scratch again with a mind to sales and marketing, I might be more careful to tailor it to fit a certain niche. Heck, I’d maybe even throw in a couple of horny teenage vampires — I’m sure that would immediately raise marketability! But no, I had a very clear vision and I never deviated from it. Although the second book was designed to be easier to categorise and sell, I remained very true to my muse. I wrote entirely what I felt inspired to write and simply trusted that the rest would fall into place at the other end of the process. Hopefully it will.

I’m about to send out some samples of my second novel to a shortlist of agencies. We’ll see how that pans out. ‘Eladria’ is easier to condense into a two sentence summary with a neat hook. Again, it’s a little hard to pigeon-hole it in terms of books that are currently out there, but maybe someone else will be able to do that for me. It’s possible I’ll just take these books and publish them myself. I feel strangely enticed by that idea, as well as a little terrified. I have a number of ideas how I can do this and make it interesting. Whatever happens, I know 2012 will be the year I take my babies, gently nudge them out of the nest and (hopefully) watch as they spread their wings and fly.

So watch this space!

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