Time to Refocus

Spring has finally arrived and we are officially in full bloom! The skies are blue and clear (for the most part!), and a sweet scent—a combination of cherry blossom, mowed lawns and barbecues—dances on the breeze. The longer days, warmer temperatures, and feel-good Vitamin D inspire us—and this is where the ideas and motivation come flowing in abundance, like a stream gliding and babbling across rocks.

My Spring has brought with it the seeds of new ideas and new projects, as well as an overflowing watering can to nurture the projects already under way. The time spent away from my brand and writing during recent months (perhaps best referred to as a period of hibernation) has given me some much-needed time to reflect, regain perspective and re-instil the drive that no obstacle will prevent my progress. And so, the next two-thirds of the year will be more productive and marked with milestones.

The next few months will present the second in The Book Creatives series, as well as a second work of fiction—one that has been in the works for years. And, of course, my teaching journey will begin. Furthermore, Hayley Paige as a brand will undergo much of a shape and shift change, with an array of new colours and facets, and new stars to shine.

There is much to look forward to if we can look beyond the immediate. There is a world of potential—so much more than just a world, in fact—and we can do whatever we set our minds to if only we encourage ourselves to focus. Now is a time for refocus and for allowing inspiration to make itself known in any form it chooses.

The telescope is out and I am redirecting my gaze to the stars.

The Teaching Branch

 

Teaching. It is the arena in which I always thought my career would be built and nurtured. As a young child, my work-related aspirations focused on writing, on someday becoming an author, and on being an English teacher. And, even when I had those typical moments of wavering—perhaps I could be a barrister or maybe even an advertising executive?—still I always came back to that one role: being a teacher. However, life twists and turns, and a lack of confidence in public speaking and an ever-increasing social anxiety seemed to take their toll, and soon the prospect of teaching was something I couldn’t even imagine tackling, and so I took an alternate route—notably not a less valuable or satisfying role; just one that was slightly different—and thus an editor cum writer cum publishing consultant was shaped.

Times are changing, however, and teaching (nor learning) isn’t what it once was. Of course, I’ve recognised this over the years; technology has changed everything, from the ways we communicate and how we do business to how we find relationships and how we share our lives—and teaching is no exception.

Introducing the concept of e-learning; a teaching platform growing in popularity and more prevalent learner-use each and every day.

It was this time last year when a long-term client of mine—importantly, one of the most successful women in her country and someone for whom I have a huge amount of respect—directed my attention to an amazing opportunity. She discussed the details of a particular teaching platform, and how she felt learners across the globe could benefit from my expertise and experience in various domains. My interest was piqued: could I really teach? In the days that followed, discussions were had and research was conducted, and, suddenly, my then-already overflowing workdays looked set to become buried under yet more tasks, less time, more aspirations, but greater achievements.

But then, of course, life threw me a curve-ball, and so plans were put away—temporarily, of course, but put away nonetheless.

The necessary equipment has sat in lonely cupboards and boxes, packed away and gathering dust. The thousands of words, penned and saved, forming the blueprint of courses, have patiently waited to be padded out. My teaching profile has lay idle, accumulating daily followers who wait for news, yet not hearing a whisper.

But things change. Time moves; oh so slowly but then all at once. Grains of sand filter through domed glass. And curve-balls journey forward, pursuing other directions.

My professional life is already brimming and requires attention in different ways; books sit half-written, clients require attention, and an abundance of business literature screams to be rewritten. But it seems inherent in me not to let an opportunity pass me by or to fail to embrace greater diversity in my career portfolio. And, of course, in some small way, this is something I need to do in order to satisfy the goals of a little girl who used to be me. If I achieve this last thing on her list, she’ll know, then, that everything she wanted was possible.

I expect the process to be slow and complicated, but it’s like anything in life: you reap what you invest. The tasks will be cumbersome and long-winded: there is a need for me to devise and package courses that demonstrate my skillset and teach what is fundamental in my field; I will need to master feeling comfortable and at ease in front of the camera, and consider how to overcome the anxieties that go hand-in-hand with this; I will need to learn additional skills—video editing as just a starting point. But the opportunity is too unique and too valuable to pass up.

And so, after much delay, Hayley Paige, Lecturer, is set to be born. I aim for Summer—June/July—for the launch of my first course. That gives me four months…

Plenty of time.

A Long Road

The end of July, when I published my last update, seems like such a long time ago. And, in so many ways, it really is. I have travelled a difficult road—one I actually never could have imagined would work its way into my realitybut, now, I find myself in February of a new year and, although the harsh twists and turns are nowhere near over, I can see a beautiful landscape waiting at the horizon.

My work has suffered, without question. Writing not only has been placed on the back-burner, but has ceased completely with the exception of one short story (a form of expression I have never before considered). My day-to-day work, notably in the editing and publishing arena, has been a struggle as an understatement; mental exhaustion has taken a huge toll on my ability to focus. Hobbies and reading have become a thing of the past when, once upon a time, they were what kept me feeling most alive. However, with that said, the days are not nearly as difficult as once they were, and I find myself better able to focus on other things—things that used to bring me happiness. Writing. Reading. Working. Setting and achieving goals. The fundamentals that underpin my personality and nature. The sun now seems to shine for longer each day.

With this renewed positivity and ambition—something I used to have in abundance!—comes the recognition that, although I am sad to have wasted time being counterproductive and doing nothing more than focusing on putting one foot in front of another, the present is all that matters, and to continue where I left off is a case of better late than never. I can’t afford to give myself a hard time for not achieving goals when life hit me out of the blue and demanded that I direct my attention to weathering the storm; there was no other option. Now, however, there is a choice.

So, onwards and upwards. Back to adopting the usual work drive and passion, back to writing, back to reading, back to pursuing more than the bog-standard. Back to me.

A Book’s Words

There is so much more to a book than mere words. Of course, the pages and the ink, the individual characters and their profiles, the twists and turns, and plot overall, are some of the most obvious elements, but, essentially, each one of these needs to be written. In terms of more tangible aspects, there is cover design. Then there is the inclusion, fashioning of and consideration to countless other factors, such as marketing and advertising, and the overall brand image of the author. Today, however, I have directed my attention towards one of the more obvious aspects of book writing and publication—that of cover design.

The decision to halt work on my up-and-coming work was a difficult one, but ultimately it was necessary—although, in some way, I had no choice: at this time, at this point on my path, there is no way forward; it’s almost like there is a barrier, with no access granted either side, nor above or beneath. But sometimes, the best thing is not to fight against what can’t be or what isn’t possible in that moment, but rather accept it and direct attention to another sphere.

This afternoon, I have asked my graphics designer—whom I have worked alongside for several years—to begin work on the cover for the G72 project. Terminating all progress on this work was painful—is painful—and so it makes sense perhaps to continue with the elements that require attention but that don’t conflict with where I am in my life. Cover design and other more marketing- and PR-related elements all deserve to be a focus. Just because writing can’t be a part of my world for now, that doesn’t mean I should neglect my writing career completely.

And so today brings me to a brighter place—a place where G72 is still a part of my immediate future, and not so far away it sits in darkness. Hopefully soon I will see my work take on a more tangible, real-life form through cover design, and even if it does little more than reassure me that all of my efforts up until this point weren’t in vain, maybe that’s enough. A little progress in one small aspect of the whole picture surely is better than nothing, and so I’ll try, from now, to adopt that perspective, rather than thinking that G72 has had so much of my love, heart, passion and dedication, only to be discarded.

The G72 Project will sit in a little cupboard, filed away in a secret compartment in my Writer’s Mind. There is a light on, so I won’t forget it’s there. And my wonderful, amazingly talented graphics designer will keep me on this rocky path towards G72, steering me back in the right direction with each design he devises and each tweak he implements. It is my hope that, as these snippets of wonder reach me—and, in turn, are communicated to my social media audience—that we’ll gain more momentum and more companions on our journey. G72, without question, will become a reality. It isn’t even a question of When? because already I know: When the right time presents itself.

Setbacks and the Importance of Timing

The months have flown since my last update, with my efforts and attention focused on finalising my up-and-coming work of fiction (as discussed in my previous entry). Never before have I felt so excited by a project whilst also fearful and wary; each chapter and the unfoldings of the story have all been so unfamiliar and so unlike anything I’ve ever undertaken before, and I have found myself uncertain and in unknown territory throughout the process. But nonetheless, I allowed myself to become immersed in every single stage; I have valued the individual moments spent crafting the spells and allowing the manuscript to work its magic, and not at any point have I felt less than completely passionate and dedicated.

And all of this is only thus far… The journey is far from over.

However, there have been circumstances that have arisen in recent weeks that have meant a halt in my progress, and, due to the genre and twists of the book, which are too closely aligned with my personal life and create the most significant, deeply painful conflict, I am having to cast aside the idea of completing this work—at least for now. To continue on with this feels like an impossibility in this moment, if only from an emotional perspective, and I can’t see that I could do any justice to the ideas I have stored away and nurtured for so long. If I were to continue, the end result would be a half-effort, and publication would hurt my heart when I reflect on what is happening in my life. But ultimately, I can’t see that writing even another word is possible; my stomach twists at the thought.

The G72 project is something I have been desperate to undertake and complete for more than a year; it deeply saddens me to realise it will remain a half-form until my mind is strong enough to venture back to dark places. But timing is pivotal and all-important, and although it pains me to admit it, perhaps now just isn’t the right time.

Everything happens for a reason. Life unfolds and turns and spins, and we can’t predict what’s waiting around the corner. And, although we have to take control and seize the moment, sometimes we also need to go with the flow of a situation and not try to swim against the tide. For now, I’m just going to give myself up to where the current decides to take me.

I know a rainbow will follow the storm. And perhaps then I’ll feel able to pick up my pen and continue on with what I am sure will be a better version of itself after being permitted to take the necessary time to grow.

Months In Ink

The past three months have passed by in a blur of professional tasks and activities, centred on my everyday roles as editor and publishing consultant, whilst also devising and filming courses in my new role as a lecturer for one of the world’s largest learning organisations. Beyond this busyness in my schedule, however, I also have been directing my efforts towards the latest in my literary works.

This in-progress musing—which is all it qualifies as, so far!—will be released for pre-order at the height of Summer 2016, with publication to follow late-Autumn, and is, without question, one of my most exciting works so far in that it is an entirely new genre, and therefore carries an altogether different tone when compared with my past publications. I find myself treading an unfamiliar path that is both exhilarating and frightening, yet I find myself strangely at home with something so far away from the fantastical work of Alice. Perhaps I love to mix my two worlds; to dip my toes in and out of reality and fantasy, and then back to reality once again; to take differently coloured droplets of oil and add them to a globe of water, and rock them back and forth like a hypnotising self-made lava lamp.

The details of my next publication are bursting to be shared, but the secrecy must remain—at least for now. I do, however, very much look forward to releasing details of its title, the cover and blurb, and receiving feedback from my reading audience. This is always one of the most exciting processes!

For now, however, it is back to the profiling of characters and the tying up of loose ends and the unweaving of woven tapestries. Soon, I am sure, all will become clear…

P.S. Wishing those of my readers who celebrate a very Happy Easter! Who doesn’t love to see a bunny hatching from an egg?!

A Period of Indulgence

Christmastime and New Year have been and gone, passing by in a flurry of mulled wine, light dustings of snow and a mass of ribbons and decorative wrapping. This magical time for family, indulgence and decadence is over for another year, but with the return back to routine and work, commutes and responsibilities, there also are the first steps down a new, glittering pathway. It is the start of a new year; an opportunity for new beginnings and fresh projects. We are only the first few pages into what could prove to be a very exciting first chapter in this 366-day book of 2016.

In my own little world, the beginning of 2016 has marked itself with a return to copy editing and publishing, with brainstorming here and there for the sequel of Alice: Queen of Hearts, the second in The Book Creatives series (much later than originally planned!), and my most exciting fiction for the year (to be referred to as G72). I also have a number of other business-related tasks and opportunities ahead of me, all waiting to be explored and eager to move their way up my huge and ever-growing To Do list, and so I am excited to throw myself into 2016.

In amongst the hard work and the inked pages, the ticked-off tasks and the inclusion of more, however, I am determined to spend the year building more beautiful memories with my daughters, sisters and friends, and laying the stepping stones of a solid foundation for a happy, fulfilling life. I feel more driven, excited, enthusiastic and ambitious than ever before, and so I am determined this will be the most incredible period.

Already 5 days have flown, leaving 361 remaining. Every single one of these need to be decorated with glitter and flashes of pink and bursts of starlight. And if any of these fall onto published pages, I will feel all the more blessed.

Happy New Year!