Posts Tagged ‘Relaxation’

Time seems to slow down over summer. It is good because summer helps anxious types like me to unwind. Last year I burnt myself out releasing three books at once, and I’ve been in recovery mode ever since. It was perfect timing to launch the books in spring, a season which matches the energy of new beginnings and planting seeds to grow in the future. I released The Chronicles of Aden Weaver in October and applied myself to the marketing. Then summer came along and I used that as my excuse to stop. Thank goodness summer triggers chillaxing. I needed it!

The marketing side of being an Indie author is a monster with a voracious appetite for your time and energy; you can never feed it enough. Through October and November, I had sat at my computer day after day, hour after hour, reading guidelines, scouring websites, scratching my head over what I needed to do to upload the books. The jobs seemed endless.

The sales, the marketing, the business side of being an author bore me witless. It’s not me. I’m one of those annoying sorts of people who is a dreamer. You want a million ideas a minute, no problem, but I don’t do as well with the practicalities. My son is a dreamer too, and that’s how I know it’s an irritating trait in a person. But as much as I strive to do better, I seem to still let some things slide and I struggle to follow through. In fact, it’s one of the biggest struggles in my life at present. I love the creative writing side of being a writer; it is deeply fulfilling whereas attending to marketing and distribution and sales is utterly stultifying.

Thank goodness for summer as I took a welcome break. I was beyond exhausted on every level. My father used to be the same. We’re the sort of people who prefer to be busy and spend our time productively, but sometimes that can lead to burnout. It means we let ourselves go too long without rest and end up wrecked, feeling unable to function.

December, I realized I was becoming like a deer in headlights, needing a retreat from everything book related. I closed up the laptop, walked away from being ‘Yvette Carol, author,’ and took a deep breath of the air outside. It’s been fantastic, weeding the garden, swimming regularly with my kids and family, going on picnics, taking scenic walks, attending lunches and parties. I’ve been reading, and I’ve watched movies and my favourite cooking shows on TV. Not being a writer for a while it has been heaven.

Last week, a good friend invited us to stay with her at her beach house. So my two youngest boys and I could travel out of town for a few days of sun, sea and surf. Beach walks, picnics, swimming twice a day, barbecue dinners, games in the evening, long conversations. It was as good as it sounds. It was just what the doctor ordered, and we returned to the city refreshed.

However, I still didn’t feel ready to start back at work. I looked at my computer and the stack of “to do” jobs and sighed. No. Not yet. I was not ready to don the author hat again. I hadn’t recovered enough or rested enough. There was still some tension left in the way my shoulders seemed to squeeze tight. No matter how often I reminded myself to relax them, I found my shoulders up around my ears. The drowsy contentment of summer is a necessary tonic for the system to reboot.

It’s vital not to fall out of love with being a writer. Therefore, I decided to continue to rest until the boys go back to school Feb 3rd. Then I can crank up the marketing machine, get more distribution channels sorted and attend to all that needs doing to release my stories, and perhaps even write again.

But in the meantime, there are twelve more days of summer fun ahead. Recently Alex J. Cavanaugh, IWSG Leader and Ninja, wrote, Remember that moment when writing was a joy and we were excited and ready to take on the world. That’s exactly what I want to do, to ‘remember that moment when writing was a joy,’ as I try to relocate my mojo.

What do you do when you finish an extensive project? Do you take time to reflect or immediately begin a new project? Or do you tackle several things at once? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Talk to you later.

Keep creating!

Yvette Carol

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The cyclone derives its power from a calm center. So does a person. ~ Norman Vincent Peale

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Though we’ve returned to the city and had our summer break in the country, the feeling of being on holiday continues. A lot of people have not yet returned to work so the days are slow and balmy. In New Zealand, businesses close altogether for a few weeks at this time of year. The usual traffic noise from the distant motorway which dissects the urban sprawl has dwindled to a distant hum. Bees drone in the garden and birds flick from branch to branch pecking at the remaining fruit. There is a lazy feeling in the air.

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The reclining Black Doris plum tree in our front garden is a wonder of nature. The trunk now lies on the ground, it’s half rotten, half hollowed out by ants yet new branches have grown up towards the light creating the illusion of a long line of small trees, and this marvellous crazy old tree produced an abundance of fruit again, this year. We picked buckets of plums. We’ve had overflowing bowls of red orbs on every surface everywhere in the kitchen and the air has been redolent with the tropical smell for weeks.

The pod of bananas on our tree outside the front door has yellowed rapidly and they are delectable. We like eating them straight off the palm. However, added to the juicy plums, they also make the basis of the greatest smoothies!

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The garden is alive with the sounds of chicks in the nests around the garden. The birds, mice and rats have been having a bumper season because of the warmer temperatures, so they’ve been keeping the neighbourhood cats on their toes. Whenever I step outside, it feels as if the surrounding air is alive with things flying about. It’s frenetic. I guess it’s in keeping with these sped up times.

Last weekend, I finally went back to work on my latest book, The Last Tree. The copy editor returned her notes around Christmas, just prior to our going away, and this was the first chance I’d had to open the document. I got about halfway through the edits and hope to finish going through them this weekend. The story is taking on a high sheen.

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Yesterday, I finished reading Donato and the Cartege Blade by Fiona Jordan, a fellow New Zealand writer. She did a good job with that book. I noticed in reading her acknowledgements, the small army of people she thanked for their help editing and shaping the story, and I couldn’t help think I’ve only had a small amount of input on mine. I hope it’s enough.

I’m at the stage where I’m close to making important decisions about where to spend my money next, and I also have a ton of organizing to do as to producing and distributing and promoting The Chronicles of Aden Weaver series. At some point, I will need to swing my radar onto starting a new book. I admit to being rather daunted. There is spade work ahead, this year, that I know, but I also know that right now in this moment we’re still on vacation. The boys don’t go back to school until February, so I have until then to take a breather while I can.

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I think trying to find a balance is important. I have to take care of myself to be healthy and present for my kids and my family. The pace of life is faster, these days, and for me to be as productive and yet as calm as possible, I need to balance work and play. So, though I’m looking ahead at 2020 and seeing the effort I need to make, I’m also planning my downtime and making enquiries about a vacation out of the city.

My best friend says she loves the holidays because she’s “good at doing nothing all day.” I really admire that ability to decompress completely. With our busy lives, we need to prioritize relaxation. I tell myself, “It’s okay to unwind.” I practice daily meditation and endeavour to observe “mindful” moments throughout the day. I want to be the best parent and role model I can be for my children. It starts with self care first, and then the care for everyone and everything else flows from there.

I hope to achieve a better work life balance in 2020. How about you?

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Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you. – Walt Whitman

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If you do a lot of things, you screw up a lot of things. You have to give yourself permission to totally humiliate yourself repeatedly. If you can do that, then happiness results. ~ James Altucher

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September 19: I launched my first book

September 20: I learned there were multiple errors in the copy

September 21: I started proof-reading the copy

November 7: Blurry-eyed, I was proof-reading the copy for the third time. I wasn’t seeing the words anymore.

I had reached burn out

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I really want to get this project finished. I am overdue sending my “two copies” to the National Library, I need the corrected versions uploaded to Amazon. I owe folks everywhere new copies of the book after I asked them to trash the first ones. The whole situation is a mess. However, this week, after striving for months to edit my book to publishable standard myself, I had to admit defeat. I realized if I continued on my own I could take a few more months over the project.

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I realized I could no longer keep trying to do the final proof read myself. As I had already paid a proof-reader to do it once, I had felt this inner resistance to the idea of having to hire another. Costly business this Indie thing, let me tell you.

Nevertheless, I quit, and I handed the job over the same day to a professional proof-reader, who works locally.

And do you know what? It was the best thing I ever did.

As soon as I handed over the manuscript, I relaxed. I hadn’t even realized how stressed I’d become about the whole process of putting out a quality self-published book.

As soon as I quit, we began to get things done. Within one week, the proof-reader has read the whole thing. She has found “70 inconsistencies” and she’s hopeful of getting the project done by November 20.

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There is a great sense of relief to have let go of the reigns. I’d been holding on so tightly, I don’t think I was doing a very good job of editing anymore.

This way, I will have the peace of mind, of knowing we caught all the little errors. I will have put out the best book I could and that’s the main thing.

As my friend, author, James Preller, told me recently:

“In the end, the only thing that matters – the only thing – is the book.”

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However, this road of being an Indie author, as wonderful as it is to have total control, can be an overwhelmingly large amount of work. I guess what I’m saying is, that I learned a lesson the hard way. I pushed myself to burn out before I would admit that I’d taken on too much.

I wanted to pass on this nugget of wisdom I have between my teeth that it’s okay sometimes to quit.

I felt ashamed to admit I stopped editing only three pages into the manuscript. I had fallen down before the finish line.

Yet, it was the best thing for me. I was tired. It felt so good to stop; I may start stopping more often, if you know what I mean!

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The ultimate test is in the end product. Did I put out the product I intended?

I feel assured now that the end product is going to be a polished book which will be able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any book in any library anywhere. Will that end product be worth the shame and embarrassment of quitting at the final hour? Heck-to-the-yeah!

As Altucher said, “You have to give yourself permission to totally humiliate yourself repeatedly. If you can do that, then happiness results.”

Quitting is so hard to do, why is that? But, sometimes it’s the best, and smartest way of stepping forward.

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Here’s to the next step!

Talk to you, soon,

Yvette K. Carol

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Failure is the start point for future success.~ Bob Mayer