Guest bloggers visit my website twice a month on Tuesday and Thursday. If you would like to be part of this, feel free to check out the Be A Guest Blogger page.
This week’s guest post is brought to you by Al. Thanks, Al!
Ever been stuck in a situation where you feel you have no control and no way out…?
When I first contacted Rachel about doing a guest post on her blog, my plan was to write about my journey into self-publishing. For the A to Z Challenge in April, I wrote a series of survival guides for a post-apocalypse zombie world… in haiku. Such a cliché, I know! As I was writing the posts, I had half a mind on potentially publishing them, depending on the reaction from my blog followers.
The reaction was positive. From some, REALLY positive!
Writing the haiku was the easy bit. I love writing poetry and short stories, mixing up a bit of humour with some darker themes, and throwing in some wider commentary on society and where civilisation is heading. (Following the best traditions of zombie writing, I used them as a cipher for a host of wider themes relating to man’s inhumanity to man, the environment, celebrity culture… anything really!) Looking back on them now, I’m really proud of some. Others may need a little tweaking 🙂
Then came a perfect storm of complications. I walked away from a (reasonably well-paid) job at the end of April. I left with immediate effect. No payoff. No income. No clue what to do next.
All thoughts of self-publishing went on the backburner. I had to focus on finding another job and poured my efforts into scouring the internet for potential work, completing applications, and following up leads.
It was exhausting, mentally. The way I had left my job meant that I was unsure how I would be received by future employers. I worried (incessantly) about the poor reference I’d be given, about finding another job before our limited savings were gone.
It also proved exhausting physically, as I became a full-time parent. Fortunately, my wife was able to extend her work hours to bring in some extra income, but it left me ferrying two young monkeys around on foot, to and from school and nursery, every day and entertaining them between times. I loved it, and loved the extra time with them, but without a car, it did involve a lot of walking around. (On days when I had to sign on at the Jobcentre, and pick both of them up, I would be out walking for the best part of a three hour stretch. On the bright side, I lost weight!)
When I did try and spend some time on self-publishing, I got completely lost in the question of how to format my manuscript. I had a clear idea of how I wanted it laid out, and wanted something high quality that I would be proud of, but my knowledge and skills were not up to the task.
It drifted. It’s still drifting.
I will get back to it at some point. I’ve installed Scrivener on my laptop and have saved a bunch of links to help me orientate with that software when the time’s right.
The job search paid off. I started back at work this last week. This job will be challenging, emotionally and personally, but the work is much more “me” than what I was doing previously. I have a chance to make a real difference to people’s lives. That’s what motivates me. This comes through in some of my poetry too, I think.
So, for those who have taken the time to indulge me here, what are the key takeaways from this? I’d suggest two things.
- For your first self-publishing project, choose something you like, but don’t love. Use it as practice, so you don’t get bogged down trying to perfect something you don’t yet have the skills for. Learn, learn, learn!
- Always back yourself for better. When I walked out of that last job, I had very real fears of losing everything… income, career, house… but I couldn’t mentally and emotionally handle what was going on, even if I had been able to survive the various plottings. Sometimes you need to have faith in your own abilities and do the best thing for your own emotional health. I got through it. You can too. You owe it to yourself. Always back yourself for better.
I’d love it if you stopped by to check out my work. You can find me blogging poems and short stories most days at https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/ . I plan on writing longer articles on blogging / writing on my website, along with my Dirty Dozen interview feature: http://www.alistairlanewrites.com/
I’m also on twitter @AlistairLane and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AlistairLaneWrites 🙂