I wondered this new 2013 year what I should blog about. I have spent New Year's Eve and the following days with a head cold which has made coherent thought exhausting. It hasn't stopped me over thinking though; wondering how the year will pan out, how to be more successful than last year which disappointed me in all kinds of ways. Then whilst coughing and hanging out the washing I thought about why 2012 didn't stack up for me the way I wanted it to and over coffee with my husband and adult daughter in a relaxed kind of way, feet up on the scruffy old coffee table and undies flapping in the breeze outside, articulated my thoughts thus:
When you are a kid, your achievements are kind of huge; doing up your shoelaces, going to school, learning to read, writing a story...all of those things. They are BIG things. But when you are a teenager they seem like small stuff compared to struggling with relationships, your changing body, exams and school pressures. And so it goes on through life- each major milestone made to seem insignificant the minute it is passed because of the expectation for the next achievement. By nobody except yourself.
The first time I had a book published I was over the moon. I'd 'made it'! That was soon replaced by crushing disappointment that it wasn't shortlisted for an award. Same for television work- one minute you are on the box looking glam and the next, yesterday's news. And then it goes on; you produce more and you expect that certain things will follow as a matter of course; money, fame, awards, residencies, grants, magazine spreads, adoration, adulation, a bach on the beach, designer clothes, travel and all the things society puts up as marker of success. And very nice they are too, if you can get them. And if you don't, you go down a hole. I went down one last year in a work starved period. In this vacuum one might expect that you could embrace the free time and get on with that project you always wanted time to finish. But what happens is that you get so depressed thinking no-one will ever want to give you work again that you sit in quiet desperation and bat off all your previous successes as nothing more than being able to tie your shoelaces. Forgetting of course that when you were 5 that was a very major accomplishment.
I have beaten myself up for not being entrepreneurial enough; not taking risks, not sinking a big financial investment into my work to see if it will come off. Then (whilst hanging out the washing) I realised that every time I write or illustrate for the publishing industry I do just that. If I were to cost out my time it would run into the tens of thousands of dollars. So in effect, each project I take on, I sink a huge amount of money into with no assurance that I will get a return on investment. There are not many in the salaried sector who would be so brave. I am not the only one. There are many of us out there, being entrepreneurs, creating new startups each time we sit at that drawing or key board. We are courageous beyond belief.
And this is why I am unreservedly thrilled that Gavin Bishop, a writer and illustrator our children's book community adores for his talent, wit and generosity has received an ONZM for services to Children'sLiterature. Gavin has been tying up his shoelaces with great dexterity for some years now and they look superb; I hope he never swaps them for cheap elastic.What Gavin does reassures me, he has forged ahead because he loves what he does and is good at it and in the end isn't that what we are best doing?
So in 2013, I'm hoping to rid myself of expectations that unachieved leave me feeling like I can't even do up my shoes anymore. I'm going to carry on doing what I love and am good at and that alone will be enough. With my laces confidently tied, I can walk forward and take new paths without falling over. Here's to an upright year!