From Fragmentation, Back to First Base

“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?”

“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.

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15 thoughts on “From Fragmentation, Back to First Base

  1. *round of applause*
    You have inspired and encouraged so many writers in their journey. We will do the same for you along the way with the blessings of Mr Tim Tam Wong.
    It’s a brave and bold step and allows you to start running.
    Adam B @revhappiness

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    • Of all the people I really want to thank, it is you. I believe people come into your life at the right time and for the right reason. This year was no different. You’ve helped me to see myself for who I am (and who I want to be) and been the most awesome cheer squad a gal could ever want. You are an awesome writing partner and a cherished friend.

      Cheers to Mr Tim Tam Wong. May the packet ever replenishing and the bottle always full.

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  2. Much love Jodi xxx
    Go forward with you dreams in your pocket, sprinkle your talents, one handful at a time, on the most deserving, just like fairy dust…

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    • I’m meant to be on horse… oh crap. I’ve got it arse-about before I start! Where is my Old Spice? (oh oops – that was on Facebook!)

      Seriously, I have a novel lined up hoping it doesn’t have an allergic reaction to the fairy dust (or my sudden interest in it again) and I’m glad to be sharing the long haul trip with you. Let’s make it totally rock.

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    • Thank you so much Jon. I’m itching to get back and be neck deep in the Friday Flash community again.

      I can assure I will be back. I left publishing and writing once (forever and was right back there again in a few short months). I have no intention of leaving forever… those ideas I have tucked in the back of my head won’t let me stay away. I have to tell them I need to be patient. I need some time out before we can play again.

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    • Thank you so much Ben. Much love back to you. I hope the infectious enthusiasm sticks around. Underneath it all I’m shit-scared! That’s where community comes in. Support, encouragement, motivation etc. And I have my old band of writing pals, such as yourself, to hang with. Proper-like… none of this editor-writer stuff. Just writer to writer.

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  3. Well said Jodi. It is easy to allow things to build, one commitment after another, each achievable in isolation, until at last they are an overwhelming whole. Workloads skyrocket and days are endured rather than lived. It is not a weak person who pauses, takes stock and trims back but one who is strong enough to recognise their own right to a quality of life, one who realises there is no shame in saying, this is too much, for now. You have my understanding and my congratulations.

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    • It’s funny you say about commitments building, one on top of the other. The intention this year was to downsize my commitments… then PROMPTed fell in my lap and I rolled out FGC2012 and discovered just how much work were involved between both of them. On top of editing. On top of trying to write. On top of a family. On top of trying to cut it as a publisher.

      As I said above (or was it an email I wrote today) if I don’t do it now, I may never do it. The commitments might become the sort I can’t back out of. I’ve got to a point where I will be able to walk away and leave a clean slate with which to return. And I’ll be back alive and brilliant at the end of it (to steal Deborah Conway’s song title”.

      My mentor Janette Dalgliesh taught me as a leader you are responsible for inspiring those around you to live the best lives possible. In the last nine months this has meant leading by example to face up to my depression and burn out, to do what has been needed to care of myself, then to work out what’s important for me and now to follow up on that. I’m not expecting anyone to follow me (it would be fabulous if they did) but perhaps at the very least re-evaluate what is important for them… and go forth to claim it as their own.

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  4. I love that you are going to be spending more time writing because I always enjoy the stories you share. I have made this year my year to devote to my writing too. I have a lot of improvements in my writing still to make.

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  5. Oh and I disagree with Dave about the multi-tasking ;). I think it is possible but it makes it easier to fuck up. Harder to be accurate/do the jobs well. But parenting is pretty much all about multi-tasking! (Nothing would get done here if I couldn’t do 3 jobs at once!)

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  6. I’m happy to Beta read anything you may ned to have looked at. With the completion of several life projects in one fell swoop these last couple of weeks, I’m hoping to be able to pick my own pace at the things I choose to do now.

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