So there have been a few changes here in the last few weeks. On the day job front I said good bye to one job and a group of people that I really enjoyed working with. Like any job it had its challenges and low points, but overall I’ve come away feeling fairly positive about the experience and working there led me to my new job. It’s a new role in a small company where I’ve met most of the people and I know what kind of work they expect me to do, so I’m not going in blind at all. I’m nervous of course, but that’s just normal new-job nerves, not anything else. But before then I have some time off to rest, recuperate and relax. Sounds easy, but it’s becoming increasingly hard for me to do which sounds weird.

I was pushing myself quite hard towards the end of my last job, burning the candle at both ends as they say, which is probably why I then got sick and was knocked on my arse for a week with bad flu. I’m almost over it now but am still coughing a fair bit. It was also my birthday in the middle of all this. For the last few years I’ve not looked forward to my birthday. On the one hand it’s always nice, people spoil me, I get to feel special for a day and I am the centre of attention, which I loathe for the other 364 days of the year. On the other hand it’s another nail in the coffin, another milestone on the road and so on. I’m 35 now and like some people with burning ambitions a birthday becomes a day where I look back at the year and think about what I’ve accomplished, or not as the case may be, and what I wish I had done differently with that time.

I’ve moved beyond childish goals of – I want to be doing this by the time I’m 30, and this by the time I’m 40 years old – because life isn’t like that, you can’t make those kind of plans and life itself will get in the way. Achieving any ambition requires sacrifices of one kind or another and I’m making them, such as sleep, or time I’d rather spend doing fun stuff I enjoy like reading books, comics, watching TV, or playing computer games. There are some amazing games out at the moment like Skyrim, or Star Wars the Old Republic, the newest MMORPG. It would be so easy for me to buy one of those and sink a hundred hours or more into it. I’d love every minute, I’d enjoy myself and I would not think about how much time I was clocking up until the game loses its shine and I stop playing or my birthday rolls around again. Then I would regret those 100 hours and wish I had spent them writing or planning, or making notes or something. But equally it can’t be me sat at a desk writing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week because I need to earn a living to pay the bills, spend time with my family, eat, sleep, and relax a little, because you need some of that too for the creative process. Finding the right balance is the thing and I guess I’m still struggling with it, hence the getting ill from doing too much.

I’m not going to claim that this is going to be my year, because no matter how good I think my stuff is, and it might be great or awful, that decision is ultimately not one I get to decide. But, I am feeling much better and stronger than I have in a few years. I’ve matured, I’ve become more comfortable with myself and and am settled with my life. I’ve found someone that makes me happy and who ultimately understands me and my weird ambitions to write stories and keep writing long into the night.

I’ve also moved beyond the idea of just writing and seeing where it goes and have found what works for me after years of experimentation. Everyone is different and everyone has their own ideas about writing, where it should be done, how it should be done (gardners vs architects), how often it should be done, but no matter how many books and articles you read, or lectures and classes you attend, the only way to know is to actually do it. Put your bum in the chair and write. Some people I know can get up at 4am or 5am and write before work. Some people tell me their best hours are from 10am to midnight. Others write at lunch time. Others write in short chunks and some can write for hours at a time. Then there are all the posts about daily word counts and targets and so on. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, you need to find what works for you. By all means you should read those articles to understand what other people are doing and what you might want to try if you haven’t found ‘it’ yet, but at some point reading them just becomes another delay tactic. So, I guess that’s a long way of me saying that I’ve found my right place and right time for writing. I’m not going to shun all advice from now on and cut myself off from new ideas, but I’ve found what works for me at this point in my life.

So I’ve no idea if any of the projects I’m currently working on will bear fruit this year but I believe that they will succeed and I’m hopeful and that is a very good thing. Hope is normally a candle easily snuffed out and tomorrow I might fall into a fit of depression and believe everything I’ve written is crap, but right now, today, the candle is going to be one of those irritating trick ones that just won’t blow out.

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