Thursday, May 27, 2021

Win a copy of My Elephant is Blue ...

I was meaning to write this blog post and then found myself reading an essay by Rebecca Chace about her poet mother Jean Valentine, and then writing a poem in response instead. Go figure. 

Sorry I have been so absent. It has been a busy old time. I have had lots of things to write and do and organise although sadly, (for me) not so much creative writing of my own stories. I have a general policy of saying yes to things. Book adjacent events are an unpredictable thing so I know there will be plenty of quiet times down the track to balance out the busy times happening right now. If people are keen to have me visit their school or take part in a library event, or talk at length about writing/reading/books, I am IN! And sometimes all the invites come at once. This is how it goes and I am here for it. But when I am invited to do things, it's not just about doing the event. It also means preparing what I am going to say and sometimes creating material (handouts, powerpoints, exercises) to go with it. I take all these events very seriously. I want to do a good job. So I have been beavering away on lots of book adjacent things. And the occasional accidental poem. 

My latest picture book My Elephant is Blue is now out. Before it was even printed this wee story was wooing publishers overseas and it will be coming out in Germany, Italy, and China, and Spanish language rights have also just been sold. I have not had a book this translated before and it is très exciting. Fly little elephant, fly! 

Some lovely reviews have been coming in too (you can read one here or here ), and this Sunday we are officially launching the book at Time Out Bookshop in Mount Eden. Look at the lovely shop window they have created (swoon).

If you read this before Sunday and you want to come along - please DO! Here is the invite

And because I still have a bunch of book adjacent things to do I am going to run away and leave you with a competition to win a copy of My Elephant is Blue. To win a copy tell me in the comments (here on the blog, or on this post on facebook, or on twitter) which language you think the book should be translated into and I will pick my favourite answer. Entries close June 4th. 

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Writers don't 'weekend' like other people do

I've just come off a week of teaching creative writing to young people. It makes for a busy time and I usually feel pretty shattered by the end of it all - it's just the nature of the job. I told my SO I was going to take it easy over the weekend to let myself recharge and decompress. When I told him this morning that I was thinking I might start making a few lists about jobs I need to get done this month because I don't have so many gigs as I do in the following months, he just looked at me and said 'I thought you were taking the weekend off.'

Creative people don't have weekends like other people have weekends. Inspiration doesn't sign off on Saturday and Sunday and I don't go in to an office from Monday to Friday. Maybe it's actually my head that's my office and, as it happens, I am there all the time, 24/7. It is hard to switch off. I mean, look at me! I should be reading or bingeing something on Netflix but instead I am writing my blog. Especially cos it's a bit overdue.

So maybe this is a good opportunity to remind ourselves about self care.

1) If you write fulltime, days off don't have to happen only on Saturdays and Sundays.

2) I have to admit, because I don't want to miss any inspirational ideas I don't mind if I leave the inspiration switched on. Sometimes it goes into sleep mode but I never switch it off completely. I have found it's worth the constant low drain on my energy to leave it this way.

3) Sometimes a rest just means no socialising. Large events with many people give me a people hangover. I only need a break from interacting. If I refuse your social request, it's not you, it's my current inability to people - normal transmission will be restored shortly.

4) I think the biggest problem for me is the guilt I feel if I'm not doing anything writing related. Because I don't work 9-5, Monday to Friday, I don't have a regular reliable income. Hence the need to keep creating and networking and promoting so that I do make the most of any opportunities that are lurking. And they can be lurking anywhere, anytime. Folk with regular jobs don't necessarily feel guilty about downtime. They know how to kick back on weekends and holidays. I have no idea how this is done. I guess if nothing else, acknowledging this is the case can be helpful. And don't feel guilty if you have your 'break' on a weekday (see 1).

5) While I fully endorse getting fresh air and exercise I have discovered my brain does not switch off from writing during these activities either. They are important but do not represent a break from work. And you should still do them.

6) Weirdly, a writer's retreat is the most restful thing I can think of (oh dear, there is no hope for me).

So ultimately there are no great recommendations for self care here - but maybe just an acknowledgement of the challenge our chosen profession presents. We do not weekend like other workers weekend. And perhaps one of the best things you can do is let your loved ones know that this is the case. Remember too - it is not unproductive to rest. Your work will suffer if you never step away from it. You need full batteries and and well stocked brains for tip top functioning. However you define self care, make sure you do it regularly.