by Jeanette O'Hagan
The last few years, I've felt increasingly overwhelmed with all the things I'm supposed to be doing. Each year, I'd think once this major task or that major task is over, I'll have more time to slow down, to breathe. Instead each year I only seem to get busier, to get more behind. And then in 2020 a family situation took up most of my focus and I found myself even more behind than ever and even more exhausted than ever.
I realise, part of my problem is I find it hard to say 'no' or, when seeing something needs doing, often jump into the breech - and then find it hard to let go, not wanting to let people down. But then, when I'm so busy, sometimes things do fall between the cracks.
Another slice of the problem is that there is so much to do as an Indie publisher, as a mother and wife, as a part-time worker, as friend, a member of a church, as admin or coordinator of this group or that, and as a daughter when my mother needs me to be more involved in her affairs, and as a family historian (and then there is the housework and the garden so needy and demanding).
For me, 2020 was a big black hole for my writing and books sales due to the need to focus on family and not having the time or energy to put into getting that next book out or maintaining my social media platform or promoting my books. After so many years of effort, it felt discouraging - to such an extent that I would at times question my calling. Am I being indulgent in wanting to write, in wanting my books to reach a wider audience? Did I mishear God's promises, His call? Yet, over the last eighteen months, God has answered prayers in respect to financial needs and my mum's needs in ways far beyond what I imagined possible. I'm not sure what happens next, but I'm trusting in God's provision - for finances, yes, but also in terms of the future and impact my writing.
After much soul searching and prayer, I believe that God hasn't taken back the charge he gave me in 2011. I need to trust His timing - and maybe I need to go back to basics. To re-examine everything I'm putting my time and energy into. To test the advice about all the things authors 'should' be doing and all the things other people want me to do for them. Obviously, some things are non-negotiable like family responsibilities, my commitment to God, the need to encourage and upheld others, and yes the writing.
At the end of last year, I finally got back into writing - well, editing - with a major edit of Rasel's Song. It took way longer than I expected - from November to the beginning of February (but then my last look at this manuscript was six years ago). Now, I'm researching a short story (and loving it).
As a Indie author, if I don't do it, it doesn't get done. But I can't do everything.
I'm not sure what this will all look like and it may involve more experimenting, maybe cutting back on things that are time consuming but haven't fulfilled their promise, maybe being more intentional about what I do.
At this stage, it looks something like this:
- Remembering why I'm doing this and who I doing it for.
- Publishing the next book (and the next one) - and focusing on writing and publishing.
- Being intentional about promotion - giving things a go, yes, but making sure I assess what works for me and my books and what doesn't - rather than trying to do everything because that's what this expert or that expert reckons all authors should be doing.
- Maybe shedding or passing on to others some of my responsibilities (I'm still praying about what this might look like).
- And maybe being a more patient with myself and relaxing into God's purposes.
How about you? Where are you in your writing journey? Do you need to breathe, refocus, hold on - or maybe power on, take a sabbatical or at some other stage of the process?