When I wrote my first book, I felt I had all the time in the world to write it. But as I discovered last year, having a publishing contract changes the way you write drastically. Which is why the past few months have been manic, stressing and distressing to say the least: as my deadline came and went, and my extension deadline joined it, I realised I couldn’t – and would probably never have – the luxury of writing the way I was used to: only when inspiration struck, and at a pace that suited said inspiration.
In February and March 2014, a mixture of shame and realism forced me to write the entire first draft of my second book (bar six chapters which I had laying around from 2013) in around five weeks. In between, I worked the hardest I ever worked at my day job (the irony that said job was quiet for the first four years I worked there until 2014 hit did not escape me) + moved out of my apartment + planned a complete overhaul of this site. By the time the first draft was finished, I had a week’s escape to Tasmania (more on that later) before I settled into more life stuff: turning my little cladded house into a duplex + briefing designers on what I wanted for my new-look site + planning school tours and visits.
My husband meanwhile, who’s already away from home regularly for his day job, has gone back to university via distance education. In between all our adventures, we got ready to welcome our first child into the world, a process which involved exhausting decision-making about prams and weariness about mummy cliques (the Facebook posts were enough to scare me). But despite all the havoc, we were optimistic about our deadlines: we even spoke enthusiastically about having Christmas at our place.
How naive we were.
It turns out, life deadlines are even worse than writing ones (case in point: I had this post filed away in ‘drafts’ for much of 2014). I moved in with family in April thinking I’d have a brand new house at the ready by November, but to date, the old place hasn’t even been knocked down. My builder, who happens to be my brother, suddenly got more pressing and more financially-rewarding work (because his sister gets the family discount of course), which means I’ll still be living with family for much of 2015. Re-launching the site took way longer than anticipated, for a myriad of reasons that will probably make their way into future posts. My new publisher at Harper Collins is even busier than I, so my edits took about six months to come back to me, pushing back my second book’s release date for at least another six months. And then there’s the baby, and believe it or not, she’s the least of my worries – she eats, poops, plays and sleeps exactly when she’s meant to, which kind of made it easy for me to do things like file an article for Collective magazine ten days after giving birth.
If The Husband and I still love each other by the time
2015 2016 rolls around, we would have accomplished something massive, because right now, it feels like we’re swimming against the tide, at least where first-world problems are concerned anyway.
But despite all the craziness, wearisome days and excessively long nights, this is the first time in a long time that I have felt REALLY content in my writing life. When I started Wordsmith Lane in 2009, I was newly redundant, young and naïve, and read maybe two blogs. I didn’t have a clue about blogging, and because I never recognised its worth, I never gave my blog the attention it deserved. Truth be told, I never held any aspirations for it. It was just another thing in my life. (Another case in point: One of my first-ever posts had a comment on it by Allison Tait, who started her blog some time later – and because she was (more) disciplined with it, managed to make it something great. You can catch her talking about flitting between writing genres and styles in an upcoming post).
But despite all the struggles and lack of direction that characterised my blog in the past, I still wanted to write. I’m still extremely passionate about helping aspiring writers. It’s evident in the work that I do, the emails that I answer, the talks and workshops that I give at literature festivals and schools. I also really believe in second chances – and I sincerely believe that it is time for me to give my blog the chance it deserves to be what I set out to make it: the always-available mentor to the aspiring writer, fuelled by real life tips, advice and experiences of writers of the more established kind – and from a variety of genres.
Last year, when I initially planned its re-launch, too many things (the kind that were out of my control) went wrong with it, and even though at the time I vowed not to let it break my stride, it did. I had lost money, motivation, readers and business. I just couldn’t motivate myself to work on something that wasn’t the fit I imagined it to be. This time, things are already looking better – so I’m one stop away from where I started, but I am carrying many more lessons in my little heart. The biggest one? Hone in on your brand: I wandered off the path so many times in the past, following PRs and promos and influences that didn’t go the same way I was going.
This time, my blog is all me: a digital scrapbook of the everyday experiences, wellness pursuits, dreams and inspirations that fuel my work: conversations with people chasing their dreams, the books I read and performances I watch, the destinations that capture me and the experiences that wow me, and all the little tidbits of my happy, humble life.
I’ve come and gone many times, and I can’t promise that my long absences will never happen again, but this time, I have invested so much more everything into the new site that should hopefully make it harder for me to leave it.
This effort is my do-over, and I feel really thankful for the second chance. If you’ve stuck around, I thank you immensely, and more so implore you to overlook my mistakes of the past, and give me – and my beautiful new site – a chance at a bigger, wordier future.
The Re-Launch Celebration
I celebrated my return to my digital space with a Middle-Eastern-inspired High Tea at home, alongside a few inspiring and encouraging women who are just ace at all things blogging, media and social media. Thank you Cheri, Rachel, Viola and Chloe for joining me, encouraging me, and eating chocolate baklava with me when everything was done and dusted. Well, not necessarily dusted – there are still a few niggly things to fix – but I’m almost there.