In my last post I lamented about how much I had spent the year looking forward to attending Britmums Live, and for the friendships and social aspect that was whole-heartedly true. But a small, annoying part of me kept chirping up and saying 'But you don't really belong this year do you?'
In the last 12 months I have probably completed a handful of blog posts, I slipped away from networking, Facebook and Twitter. I would love to say this is because I have been focusing on writing my novel but that would be, well, a bareface lie.
Of course I kept taking that little flea in my ear and stamping on it with the force of an elephant stampeding, but it didn't really go away. When I arrived on the Friday and met with my fabulous fellow blogging friends, the little niggle actually got stronger rather than dissipating like I thought it would. I looked around and surveyed at how amazingly, bloody well my friends were all doing and progressing with their writing plans. They all seemed to have taken our success from the agents sessions last year and really run with it.
First drafts of novels had been completed, mentors sought and secured, poetry and flash fiction anthologies developed from scratch, agents approached, writing festivals attended and some were actually involved in the running of the Britmums Live event! For every one of those achievements by those wonderful people I am truly proud and in awe.
But it also served to me a stark reminder of what I had not achieved this year. It seemed as if just when I was starting to get somewhere with my blog and writing, good feedback and a little bit recognition from unexpected sources for example, I stood, frozen like a rabbit in the headlines. And whereas my friends in the same position took their little bunny tails off to the safe side of the road and saw the opportunity to run wild in the big green field, I decided to stay, stuck frozen and scared in the headlights.
For the first two hours of the event this made me a little sad. I felt little enthusiasm to be there. In my mind I was sulking, a bit like my four year old does when something doesn't go his way. But I was only cross at myself. I could make excuses. To be fair I have had a lot on my plate this year. Oh yes, I could find a perfectly legitimate and plausible reason for why I haven't made any progress with my writing plans.
But the long and short of it is this : Everyone has had a lot on their plate. The bloggers keynote readings made that very clear and the only reason I have barely put pen to paper so to speak this year is because I haven't been bothered too. I could have got up early, stayed up late, left the housework, insisted that I have an afternoon at the weekend to work. These are all things everyone else has done in order to make progress.
All of the authors in the first afternoon session I attended categorically stated that they have hectic family lives. They have children, husbands and houses to run. But, in order to write they had to make sacrifices, just like their husbands have to for work. But whereas, when you are out at work you don't see you have the choice, you just have to do what you have to do, when you are a writer making your own schedule you have to physically choose to make those sacrifices. Because as I have proven this year, it is so easy to not make them and, quite frankly, get nowhere.
By the end of the two Friday 'Write' sessions I decided to turn my thinking more positive. The reality was I had put nothing in for the last 12 months and thus had very little to show for it. But, I was surrounded by the best possible example of people who had put a lot in and had much to show for it. That is an inspiring thing (the whole Britmums environment is) so I decided by the end of the second session pouting over the last year was a waste of energy, bugger all I could do about it now.
All I can do is move forward. To acknowledge the self doubting, cautious side of my nature and then kick it to the curb. To have more faith in my ability. To spend some time planning (I am pleased to say I did actually even start to do this at the conference whilst I was enjoying some quite time with [brags] an award winning friend on the sofas outside whilst the warm summer breeze lapped over our exhausted faces).
I don't know why I hold back, I have always been the same. I am not getting any younger and this is the thing that I really want to do. I acknowledge my life is hectic and I have been waiting for this new period in our family life to come around (my youngest will be starting school in September). A whole new era will be starting. A whole new routine. A whole new chance.
So I have from now until the end of August to make a 12 month plan (it will be big and colourful and placed on the wall - like a hawk eye). At the end of the 12 months (September 2015) I want (will) be in a position to go to the York Writing Festival with confidence and a first draft. Many things will make up getting that confidence; getting my blog active again and engaging with people and getting involved with the communities; entering writing competitions and submitting feature pieces; asking for feedback; researching my book genre market - writers and agents.
In short getting back out there and not being afraid.
That can't be so hard? Right?