Poor sleep last night because I have been worrying too much. I'm currently engaged in a day-job project that is on an extremely rushed schedule and I am working with another supplier for the first time. I have no previous reference on how reliable the supplier is on projects like this one. With the time constraints, there is very little room, if any at all, to remedy any failures. I can only hope and pray to the gods.
Meanwhile I am plotting out my own side of the work -- calculating and allotting hours from now until the 6th of November when the project will be concluded. The important thing is to ensure that there will still be creative hours, and that there will be enough mental and physical energy to make use of those hours productively.
I make a big deal of the hours because I have come to the point when missing out on creative practice for any period of time brings on a kind of depression, lethargy, and overall demotivation from life. I also suffer from an unpredictable standstill state that puts on hold any forward progress on my creative journey.
How do I make it work?
I try to keep Mondays as light and free as possible. A heavy Monday can set a heavy mood for the rest of the week. Today I have made a list of very specific small tasks that will keep my day-job projects moving but without eating up too much creative time. I also use the "timespace" to get a feel of how the week will likely flow -- slowing my Monday allows me to gain a proper perspective on the workload. It is difficult to do this when I start Monday rushing around. I have to set the pace today, and I have to start it the moment I get up from bed.
Monday mornings therefore are rituals of transition from the weekend to the working week. Coffee and daily pages. Mind-sweeping with my Wunderlist. Updating my planner. Emails are checked only after I have felt myself settle into the day (usually between 9-10AM). By then I have better control of my thoughts and emotions, and I am less likely to be affected by the urgencies of everyone else. I would have established for myself a solid stance for the day, and thus for the rest of the week.
One thing I learned (the long hard way) when I started working freelance is that the world will not fall apart if I take my time to do things with more care. It sounds easy, obvious, and sensible but I came from a lifestyle and mindset that valued now, now, now no matter what. But these days I will not compromise the quality of my work nor the quality of my life on any project that will not respect the time needed to do things with care (or respect the time I need to take care of myself while I do the work). So far, I still have clients who are willing to work with my terms so I must not be wholly unreasonable.
There are regressions and failures from time to time, when old work habits take over and wreak havoc. The recovery time I need afterwards is too high a price to pay. But I have been getting better at managing my time between creative work and day-job work but it has been a very, very long process. Unlearning and learning. Trials and tests. Experiments. Occasional trips back to square one. This last quarter of the year is one big test as I juggle two day-job projects before the year ends, simultaneous with creative commitments : October Creativity Bootcamp, NaNoWriMo, the Watercolour Art Fair, commission works, and keeping the website alive and active. If I succeed without descending into the usual depths of hell then I may have finally cracked my formula for 2016.
Wish me luck.
In the late 1990s I got into graphic novels mainly through Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. The storyline took me along the dark magical paths of Books of Magic, Fables, The Dreaming, Lucifer, and an all-time favourite, John Constantine the Hellblazer. But I always shied away from going deep into comicbook territory because of the costs and the intimidating catch-up job to be able to speak about any character or storyline without sounding like an idiot. I did not even really go very deep into the graphic novels I loved.
Even when the movies and TV series started coming out in earnest I held my ground. I watched most of them but still refused to go into the back stories and original plots.
Then I stumbled into The Big Bang Theory eight years after it began and I got almost all the references but I could not bear to stay out of all the comicbook madness. Not after repeatedly gawking at the displays in the comicbook store that serves as a backdrop to their geeky dramas. (And to be honest, I really wanted so badly to belong in apartment 4A. I even looked for a book that could give me a primer on physics...)
I thought, if there is Kindle for books there must be a version for comicbooks right? I won't have to worry about space and finding back issues and digital copies are always cheaper than paper copies...
Comixology app downloaded into my iPad. Then all hell broke loose. Especially when I found out that there is a brand new Constantine series and it is only on issue no. 5. And somewhere along my crash course research on catching up I found a bit of news that Constantine will be showing up in an Arrow episode and that got me into wanting to know about the character crossovers and who belongs where and how the universes intersect, overlap and all that.
So twenty years after my foray into graphic novels I return to the forest and go in farther than I ever did. One more thing that sets me just a little bit more into the Odd/Eccentric Woman Of A Certain Age category.
I've got stories in my head, swirling in storm clouds or burning like a thousand suns. I never really thought about getting them out, putting them down on paper. But after satiating myself on a lot of young adult fantasy series I began to feel the hankering for similar stories but with more adult characters. I found a few good ones but I want more. Also, I am hoping for even more adult characters, not just fresh-faced nearly perfect specimens of twenty-somethings. I want a bit of wear and tear but not yet on the downhill path. I want once-again-upon-a-times, second chances, and late bloomers. Think Sarah Addison Allen crossed with Tad Williams/Neil Gaiman with a dash of Nick Bantock/ Barbara Hodgson. So yes, romance with lots of magic accompanied by visual art and illustration. Starring characters in their mid-thirties or even older, but still having adventures and epiphanies and life shifts and changes of heart. I want older characters who get a chance to save the world, preferably without dying, and having a better-late-than-never happily ever after.
Basically I want a book that speaks smack into my life right now. If any one of you can suggest a title based on the description above that will be great I will definitely check it out.
In the meantime I read somewhere that you should write the book that you want to read.
So in 2012, I joined NaNoWriMo and succeeded in writing a horrendously rough draft of a book called The Thirteenth. It is in editing limbo right now. It was a story with dragons and elemental magic and, of course, a romance that I never really figured out how to end.
In 2013, I participated but did not make the cut, running short of about ten words and then the time was up. The book was called The Other Place and I have been at it, off and on, waiting for something. It felt somewhat thin and one-sided and there were things I wanted to put in but could not find the plot space to do so.
In 2014, I thought about participating again but the story idea I had was way too raw to be ready for even the roughest of drafts. I decided to skip it.
In 2015, the story idea from the previous year has ripened, and revealed itself to be the something missing from the 2013 story.
So I signed up to write this year, next month. And as a boost and cheer I made a book cover for it although the title is still not final. I like how the words look though. What do you think?