If this post sounds familiar, that’s good! It was originally published on July 15th, 2021 and soon after, I got cold feet.
I mean, really cold feet.
Cold enough for me to sign up for an eight-week online art course that would happily claim all my attention! I loved the classes, but now I’m back, following the admoniton of American journalist Mary Heaton Vorse (1874-1966):
“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”
Book #2 is well underway. The daily habit is established. I have a small crew of fellow writers who join me weekdays as we say hello, set a timer, and get to work. It’s a tried and true method that really works.
So read on, to this slightly edited, republished post. Autumn is a perfect time to volunteer to have one’s feet held to the fire, don’t you think?
Verb: work hard over a period of time.
“they were slogging away to meet a deadline”
Slogging is a brand-new thing for me, I’ve never been good at it. (I’ve never practiced it, so I’ve never gotten good at it. Funny how that works.)
I’m much better at sprinting and collapsing. That’s what I’ve done most of my life: I get up a crazy head of steam, work mad hours with great enthusiasm to the expense of any kind of a social life. When the finished product is done (the trip to England completed, the book finally published), I go into a deep, predictable “jet lag”-like depression. Low mood combined with low energy, aggravation, and general dislike of everything that smacks of a normal life.
It takes a while for me to pull out of the energy-dive, and more often than not, the catalyst for the climb out of the abyss is the next shiny thing that then becomes the sparkly baton for my next sprint. I’m off and running again!
But it’s different now because I want (and need) to learn how to slog. Though it’s not an Olympic sport, it feels like it should be one.
My Slog Project is Book #2.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my next book, but the thing is, I don’t have another sprint in me. In 2020 I drove myself mad in a brief six-month period, and I’m feeling several years older now as a result!
Truth be told, the last book wasn’t that hard to write because I’d already developed the sketching lesson plans over a 3-year period teaching in person. I had to “flesh out” the verbiage, but that was fun. I also needed to create 37 illustrations in three months, but that wasn’t difficult.
The really tough part was Learning How to Self-Publish (excruciating!) so my book would be available worldwide, on-demand, from Amazon, as well as from the brick-and-mortar bookstores who wanted to carry it. I knew that a mere “vanity press” small-run print job of a dozen copies for just me and my local friends wasn’t going to be enough; I wanted a real book, just in case it ended up being my one-and-only book.
Toward the end of 2020 I realized creating “Book #2” made perfect sense because I’d only have to write it (did I say “only”?). I already have the self-publishing skills tucked into my tool kit. The tuition fee for learning how to self-publish was a big investment. It would be foolish not to create at least one more book now that I know the ropes, right?
The first book fit easily into the category / genre of “art instruction,” but the next book will be a bit harder to market. It will be a memoir, the “back-story” of Book #1; that is, a collection of stories that:
- describe how on earth a half-blind girl came to write a light-hearted book about the joy of seeing,
- uncover threads of the innate imagination that all children have, that turned me into a visual artist
- show how my artistic passions traveled from drawing to bronze sculpture to weaving,
- and reveal finally, how in 1986, I was introduced to my truth love, my endless fascination, watercolor.
Watercolor. Not “painting” in general. Simply watercolor. The history, the artists, the science, the chemistry, the magic.
The book will include stories of aesthetic inspirations and medical setbacks, of the times I gave up and then found out that “giving up” doesn’t even work if you’re trying to give up the one thing that makes you feel whole, that fits you better than Cinderella’s slipper.
The book will meander a bit I’m sure, much like this blog does. It will be part memoir, part motivational celebration, well-salted with humor and lots of praise for so many mentors past and present. Hopefully it will feel like a guidebook for you as well. Now that you’ve discovered the “Joy of Seeing by Sketching” in Book #1, Book #2 will help you see your own innate wisdom, help you discover your own hard-wired magnets that draw you repeatedly to your unique creative calling.
I feel like I’m giving it all away here, and I must be careful. I’ve been told by reliable sources that writers don’t really know what their book is about until it tells them! You and I are both in for a surprise apparently.
The slogging I need to do is more like deep-diving for pearls that dipping my toes in shallow water. So I ask myself:
1) Do I focus 100% on Book #2, setting aside other writing projects, like this blog, or
2) Shall I keep blogging, and simply write my memoir in my spare time, for my own pleasure. (I could barely type that sentence, it sounds so dismal.)
But what about a third option? Maybe I can do both?
Perhaps I could work on hunker-down pearl-diving for the memoir every single day, and give updates here as I go along, sharing any surprising pearls that may arise. How does that sound?
To do this I’d like your help. I want to know if this blog is of value to readers. Your comments, and the Tip Jar, are the two ways of telling me the answer.
I’ve added a Tip Jar to this website and hope you’ll be inspired every now and then to drop in a donation whenever you read something that pleases you, helps you become a braver artist, or shows you how to get to your joy quicker. I’ve happily offered ideas like these for five years, and that whole archive is available to you right here already, via the word cloud and the other search fields. It’s free-of-charge here, as all busker’s music is; tip jars are simply how you help us cover the rent between paying gigs, or published books. It’s finanical applause.
The Tip Jar you see in the header banner is run by a payment platform called Stripe, one of the safest and most respected funds-transfer companies out there. It will allow you to made one-time donations when you read something you like, or you can set up small monthly contributions if you are inspired and want to applaud often! The money I receive will go toward the expenses of publishing (which are substantial), and will allow for the occasional cup of coffee, to keep the slogging juices flowing!
Your supportive feedback, enthusiasm, and loyalty have meant so much to me since I started this blog August 13, 2016. Together, let’s see if we can get another book launched.
Are you with me? Sally forth! And thanks.
I love that you’re learning to slog, Bobbie. Not as much glamour as the sprint and collapse model, but one with more life in it. Also … what a cover! I’m excited already …
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Michelle! I never had the chance to respond to your comment back in July because I swiftly scraped the post off of my website, and flung it under my desk soon after I published it. And there it sat…for 3+ months! So now, let me say, thank you so much for your enthusiasm and insights. “We will see, we will see…”!
It sounds very ambitious but interesting and yes we need to find our own “Ikigai” and figuring out which way best fits the way we want to live, how we want to organize our days and how much energy we want (have) / need to put into it in order to be able to let our dreams come through . I am sure you will figure this out for sure ! Good Luck !
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