A Brief Visit To The Dark Side

Last week, I missed out on writing a blog. I also missed going to the allotment and sitting at my spinning wheel. I didn’t knit any more of the delicious fair isle cardigan I’ve been working on or find time to prune the berberis outside my front window. I bought gluten-free chocolate tiffin instead of baking some, and I scarcely picked up a crayon to continue the next mandala.

I broke my own rules.

On Monday morning, having read the manual, scoured the instructions and summoned my courage, I began to load the text of my novel into a CreateSpace template – the first step in the process of getting my book ‘live’. I had, rather foolishly, assumed it would only take me a day to do this. After all, that’s what the guy said in his book on ‘how to publish with CreateSpace’. So I put everything on hold, expecting to reach bedtime with a wonderful sense of satisfaction, despite the hard work involved.

By ten o’clock that night, I had completed precisely two chapters. Oh, and the front pages. You know, those extra bits that no-one reads like the copyright page and the dedication.

It would appear that all the word-processing skills I thought I’d learned recently were as nothing compared to what I had to try and learn last week. Who knew about hyphenation? and why chapter headings have a life of their own? And what on earth are ‘widows and orphans’ and how do I control them?!!!

Back to the internet. Find You-Tube. More intense studying.

Okay. I can accommodate one bad day in my life … so on Tuesday morning, I started again. Now that I knew what I was doing. Ha ha! I went back and re-did the first two chapters and moved tentatively onto three and four.

Progress? Not a bit of it. Because now I discovered that all my pages were different lengths, my chapter headings were all appearing at different positions down the page – and every time I changed one thing, it threw everything else out of kilter, not to mention the inexplicable way that Gaelic spellings imported from the internet (so I could include accents which I cannot track down on my keyboard) switch off all the alignment settings.

By now, I was at that delightful stage, commonly described as ‘tearing one’s hair out’. I also began to succumb to that feeling of being so far into a labyrinth (not the gentle, meditative kind) that you don’t want to give up. Surely the end can’t be far now? And won’t it be worth it when I get there?

It took me until midnight on Thursday to complete forty chapters. And all day Friday to recover. There was no overwhelming sense of satisfaction, or even of achievement. I felt distracted, disconnected and disturbed. I realised I had reverted to old ways and completely stepped outside my normally beautiful, sustainable lifestyle. The end did not justify the means.

Effectively, I have lost a week of my life. I didn’t enjoy what I was doing because my eye was constantly on the prize instead of the journey. I relinquished everything about my life that usually makes it such a wonderful experience. I checked out.

My favourite affirmation is: The steps to getting there are the qualities of being there.

Yesterday, I picked up my own instruction manual and began again.

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