“Hey Dad, I’m multi-tasking,” Mr D said as Dave threw his bag into the back of the car at the bus station last week.
“There’s no such thing,” Dave replied, climbing into the front seat and closing the door. “It means you’re just doing two things badly.”
“Really. It’s a myth.”
I shifted into first gear and eased out of the pick up zone.
It just means you are doing two things badly. I shifted up into second and then third. Oh crap… he’s right!
Multi-tasking and the Sting of Stagnation
Dave’s comment struck deeply, not because I simultaneously talk on the phone, while chopping vegetables and watching Mr D do his homework. It stung because I’ve professionally multi-tasked myself to the point of stagnation.
Writer. Editor. Publisher.
I’m not effective at anything any more. I don’t function in any of my roles with the efficacy or efficiency I demand of myself.
I have struggled in the last three years to keep up with everything I need to satisfy professional requirements in all three of the disciplines I work in. I don’t read the blog articles I need to be reading, I’m forever behind on big news or have only the sketchiest idea about the latest rapid changes undergoing my industry. Just keeping up with the professional memberships is enough to gut my tiny bank balance.
You know the energy and effort required in cultivating and keeping up with your writing contacts… now extrapolate that out to the same number of editing professionals, and then to publishing professionals. I know as writers we keep our pulse on these areas, but a finger on the pulse isn’t enough if it’s your area of profession. I need to have a better understanding, because it not only affects me but 70 odd writers who work under the eP umbrella.
I’m not sure when it got too hard. All I know is it did; so I withdrew and focused on getting work done. Editing one story after another. Releasing one anthology after another. But it doesn’t serve the writers who work with me (us) if I can’t translate any of it across to exposure, readers and sales. It doesn’t serve me as a writer to be disconnected. I’m not even sure what markets exist for my stories it’s got that bad.
Stepping Up to Claim my Space
“I’m not giving up, I’m just giving in.”
Never Let Me Go – Florence Welch
I’ve been too afraid to step up and claim my space as writer for twenty years. In my Write Anything article today I write:
At the core, underneath all these layers of scuttling and sometimes fearsome demons, is the fear of being thought of as naïve. That is actually my greatest fear. It sounds stupid. It sounds, if I’m honest, pathetic. But I know this is the heart, this is what disempowers everything else.
I don’t need to be a ‘fraidy-cat naïf any longer. That fear no longer serves to protect me from the harsh criticism of the world at large—or should I say, the literary world at large.
Freed of the fear I am stepping up to give myself the chance to be Writer in Her most elemental and fundamental form. The one who steps up and says loud and proud “I am a writer”. The one who turns up every day to hammer out a new chapter of a novel until the novel is completed, then have it critiqued, rinse-repeat and then go through the grueling process of trying to secure a publisher. The one who pens shorts and sends away to magazines, journals, anthologies and competitions—who puts herself “out there”, rather than hording stories on a hard drive and cowering under a mushroom. The one who participates and engages in the community of writers she misses so dearly. The one who will to continue to support her circle of colleagues with beta reading, line editing and proof reading.
As One Door Closes…
To do this, at the end of May I will step away from editing to undertake an extended sabbatical to focus on writing. No more dallying from the safety of the sidelines.
I’m not walking away and leaving everything unfinished. And I must emphasise I am not walking away forever; this is most definitely not the end of the fiction arm of eMergent Publishing. I am brimming with ideas: two Chinese Whisperings concepts I’m yet to try out, four Literary Mix Tapes queued to roll out to new leagues of hungry writers, a collection of novellas to work with Stacey Larner on, another anthology Tom Dullemond pitched to me last year… and well, the list could go on forever. I will be back next year revived and full of passion.
This month I am madly working my way through a backlog of stories to complete Deck the Halls and Tiny Dancer. I’m lucky enough to have an ace up my sleeve, with Amy Stevenson eP’s first QUT intern about to come on board with the editing.
After May I will be combining writing with the publication and release of Deck the Halls, Tiny Dancer and Best of Friday Flash Volume II (which is eP’s community project for the year). By September I hope to have released all anthologies and will step away from running any new projects until February 2013.
From Fragmentation to First Base
This time next month I will be pulling all the fragments together and staring out from first base, ready to start again, not as an apprentice but as journeyman. I’m taking with me my editing, organisation and publishing skills, my penchant for innovation, the passion and focus that have carried me through until now, and investing them in my writing.
For the last four years I’ve watched you grow, develop and mature as writers. I’ve watched you work on novels and stories, watched them go from work-in-progress to published novels, anthologies and short stories. I’ve seen the hard work you’ve put in, the dedication and tenacity with which you greet each day. The never-say-die attitude that sustains you through the lows and allows you to soar during the highs. I’ve seen you grow readerships and support circles who motivate, nurture and encourage you. For fleeting moments I’ve been part of that circle and I don’t regret one moment of it.
Now it’s time to follow in your footsteps.