If Money Is All That You Love …

Just over a year ago, I finished writing my novel and started writing this blog. Now, with the editing, formatting, uploading and proofing complete (yes, I have got to the last stage … awaiting File Review from CreateSpace so I can hit that final button) –  not to mention the decision-making and transitioning from being someone who’d written a book and wasn’t sure how to get it published, to feeling very at home with the concept of being an indie author – I am taking stock of where I am and what I still need to put in order.

Obviously, I have yet to conquer Kindle uploading but my new computer will, hopefully, make short work of that, (said she, confidently …)

As part of my sorting-out-ness this week, I was required to hunt down some papers to do with my finances and found myself rootling around in my filing cabinet. Not a place I visit all that often, these days, so it can be quite exciting to see what turns up. I was hunting, in particular, for a letter I received round about this time last year, which both shocked me to the core and heralded the changes I highlighted above.

You don’t need to know the details – just that the possible consequence of the missive was the loss of a substantial portion of my income, which is pretty minuscule to begin with.

Now I am not a person who gets hung up on money – at least, not any more. At one time, any financial hiccup would signal the end of the world – a trick I learned from my family – but I’ve been fortunate to encounter people along the way who ‘do’ their money differently, and this has gradually led me down a better path. ‘Better’ in the sense that my well-being is only marginally determined by my income.

That being said, to be threatened out of the blue with the possibility of such a substantial reduction in funds, rocked my boat considerably. I really couldn’t see how I was going to survive at that point. I honestly thought I would have to sell my house and live off the proceeds – not a long-term solution, in any way. I plummeted, for a while, into despair and a state of anxiety and fear. Not at all like me.

I remember pulling myself out of this state, changing my life around a lot, and ultimately being very glad that the predicted circumstances did not materialise. What I hadn’t remembered was what I found when I went searching in my filing cabinet this week.

On the reverse of the letter declaring gloom, closely followed by apocalypse, I had written a declaration to myself. A declaration which inspired me – far from battening down the hatches and retreating from the world – to take a leap of faith by gradually closing down my current business in order to become a full-time writer.

On the face of it, this was a crazy decision. Since I was about to lose a considerable portion of my income, (or thought I was,) guaranteeing I ditched much of the rest was not sensible in most people’s books. But I knew, at some very deep level, I was being presented with an opportunity. An opportunity to make a powerful choice about what was really important to me.

I made the choice and things, so far, have worked out so well for me that I’d forgotten I’d written the letter to myself. Finding it now, when things have turned around so brilliantly, has been a great reminder both of why my life works and of one of my favourite Star Wars quotes.

This is what I wrote:

I bless this letter with love as it marks the beginning of a new way of living for me. I affirm myself as an author, a writer, a storyteller, someone with courage and vigour, someone who can defy boundaries and conventions to reach for the truth and to enable love, someone who will fight against fundamentalism of any genre or context in order to promote creativity and the honouring of difference, someone who lives her life from a place of love, not a place of fear and who will endeavour – through her work – to teach this path to others.


Just When I Thought It Was Safe To …

So, having spent the past couple of months learning how to format my manuscript and load it into CreateSpace – then how to re-load it into CreateSpace – and then, once more with feeling, how to … You get the picture.

After all that effort, learning about editing, templates, making a pdf and creating a cover, not to mention the disappointment of the failure by Kindle to recognise said effort and instantly accept my manuscript to their website – as I had been assured they would by CreateSpace … I settled down last week to proofing.

Proofing turns out to be a delightful exercise where you re-read your 110,000 words for what feels like the 110,000th time and discover you have still made mistakes!

Never mind, I kept reassuring myself. You’re nearly there. Then I had an interesting conversation with a fellow writer who, most encouragingly, suggested that part of the problems I had been having, might be to do with my computer.

Now, you have to understand, this comes as something of a shock to me. I take great care of my beautiful midnight blue Dell laptop – and have done so for nearly ten years. Apparently, this length of service is unusual, not to say, almost unheard of!

I mean, I was aware that my version of Word didn’t match the ones I was watching on You-Tube whenever I loaded up an editing tutorial. Basically, I had to edit the editing, if you get my meaning. And I knew that Google Chrome had stopped sending me updates, possibly as much as a year ago, on the grounds that my computer was no longer capable of receiving them.

But it wasn’t until I investigated the murky depths of Kindle Publishing in order to attempt to discover why my manuscript was unacceptable to them, that I came across a small, but simple, sentence – something to do with the necessity of using an up-to-date browser. The penny finally dropped and I realised the time had come to buy a new computer.

I am now the proud owner of a rather nice HP teal laptop. Problem solved? Not a bit of it. Because now I have to learn – all over again – how to use the damn thing. Inevitably, since I last sat down in front of a new computer, the technology has changed dramatically. I couldn’t even make sense of the screen when I switched it on!

And, never having used a touchpad before, (I have always had a mouse with its own ‘dongle’,) things keep happening on the screen that I haven’t asked for, and the things that I keep asking for, won’t happen.

So, for the umpteenth time, it’s back to the drawing board. I’m allowing myself an hour’s learning a day on the new laptop, while I use the old one for the proofing process – on the grounds that it has loaded the manuscript to CreateSpace once, so I presume it will do so again.

In the meantime, I am stretching my brain not only to learn the new stuff I need to know, but to be open to discovering a massive load of stuff I didn’t even know I needed to know. And making decisions every day as to whether the stuff I didn’t know about before, is actually relevant to my life as I want to live it, or whether it is someone’s attempt to hook me into yet more commercial – not to say capitalist – rubbish.

One thing is for sure, this is the first time I have ever written my blog directly into my computer – I usually write by hand first, but this keyboard practice counts as today’s tutorial – and I believe I can safely say, it’s not the measured kind of blog I usually write.

Now, isn’t that interesting?


The Proof Of The Pudding

Last week, I experienced a curious mixture of elation and lethargy.

I had a birthday – love those – and my friends clubbed together, at my request, to buy me a fabulous set of artist’s crayons for my expanding mandala ‘habit’. On Wednesday morning, I opened a tin of seventy two magical pencils and encountered colouring at a new level. I’ve never had the chance to use really good crayons before and it was enchanting.

At the same time, I could only venture into the new experience in short bursts, due to a disturbing recurrence of ‘unwellness’. Three times this year, with the approach of the full moon, I have found myself struggling with huge bouts of  fatigue and general ‘can’t-be-bothered-ness’ – a pale reflection of a long-term illness I suffered many years ago. And on all three occasions, the symptoms have mysteriously disappeared on the day of the full moon. Unfortunately, this latest bout coincided with my birthday week.

However, on Friday, as I was just about hanging on, something amazing happened. The proof copy of my book arrived from America, where CreateSpace organise their printing for such things. I had read various on-line accounts of how incredible this experience is – of holding and opening your very own  book for the first time – but nothing had prepared me for the delight and incredulity that burst spontaneously from me.

There is something weirdly surreal about handling a book that contains words and sentences so familiar that they are now intimately carved into your brain, and further, to see the positioning of those words on the page in exactly the way you set them up a couple of weeks previously. Along, of course, with that infamous cover.

I felt proud, surprised and overjoyed, all in one go.

And then I found my first mistake. A typo. How?!!! How, after all that checking, re-writing, re-checking, re-reading and checking again, did a typo – of all things – get in there? And, of course, to correct these pages, I have to go back to the original manuscript …

I have, however, made an executive decision. I had ordered the proof copy because I really wanted to see what the book would look like ‘live’. For all the digital imaging available to me – perfectly adequate to carry out the proofing process – I thought that, for this first one, I would order the book to make sure. And it is a very different experience, having the book in my hands, compared to seeing it on-screen.

But having acquired it, I have decided not to handle it any more than I need to – not to get fingerprints on the cover, risk creasing the pages or cracking the spine. I have in front of me, whatever happens next, a historical document. A pristine copy of ‘what I did’. The result of three and a half years of hard slog and unbelievable enjoyment.

I’ve written my first book – and I have the proof!