Think fast, then slow.

January 2018, I took the plunge, instead of thinking too hard about the next step of my adventure as a Writer, it was time to stop thinking and just do. I used to have that approach in my younger years, but now I have the responsibility of a family, it seemed a bit crazy. I had been writing for three years in solitude, and had begun to notice some tell-tale social awareness signs; when the solitude begins to feel like loneliness. How could a writer, who was a mother, with a family and lots of people around her begin to feel lonely? Nuts! Maybe it was self-conscious?

It wasn’t nuts! Little had I realised, I was beginning to become quite fearful of taking risks. After immersing myself in a number of books for 36 months, I had begun to lose the capacity and need to speak. Everything I did as the writer was in silence.  Doubt began to creep in. I had begun to wonder whether any of the projects I was doing had any worth, history, religion, safeguarding and self-worth embroiled in fantasy and poetry. What was the point?

Even my brief interaction with the entertainment industry in 2016, had highlighted and niggled a few weaknesses. When I was asked to entertain – my nerves took over.

I was not quite ready to be the writer with a body and face attached, as I had absolutely no skills and experience in P.R. and communication. Oh yes! I could talk to my family. Oh yes! I could chatter with my friends, but strangers, how would I deal with strangers again? I had become very comfortable in my ‘reading and reviewing world, writing as a past-time and just being a parent’. Strangers voices that I read in books could be closed if they didn’t meet my expectation, but real life networking and chatting. Who would do this for a living? I remember my time in employment, I was a processor, I did as I was told, I didn’t question anything. But now, I questioned everything and it was safer doing all the questioning in the silence of my thoughts. If I were to speak, what can of worms would I open?

So, how did I deal with the niggles and the self-doubt? I threw myself in the deep end of the ocean with this ridiculous notion:

Rising to the challenge, I decided a 5 Second Rule to apply or commit to anything that happened over the period of 1 week.

It was okay, nothing really happened at first:

  • Then, I applied for a role on a Television show! (Confidential)
  • Then, I applied for the role of an apprentiship, a runner with the BBC.
  • Then, I asked a Publishing Firm in France if they didn’t mind if I chat on my Blog about Marie Darrieussecq’s, le bébé (2005) using quotes.
  • Then, I applied for a Scholarship PhD with the University of Hull, researching Cultures, specifically surrounding Pregnancy and Childbirth.
  • Then, I booked myself on a Writer’s Workshop.
  • I later applied for Teach First and put in an application to the NSPCC.
  • Then, I went out socialising with friends.
  • Then, I spent even more time with my family – Some people call this a work-life-balance.

All in the space of a week. Afterwards I thought: what on this planet did I do all of that for? I was behind with my Writing projects and I didn’t want to go on a T.V. show, did I? I certainly didn’t want to be on an apprenticeship for the BBC? Was I sure? I believe myself to be an Apprentice Professional Writer, am I? For goodness sakes! Do I really want to run a book shop? Did I really contact a Publishing Firm in France? Did I really communicate by email with the author M. Darrieussecq? Gasp! Did I really apply for a PhD? Who do I think I was? Or was it all a dream?

If I was really in the land of dreaming, I would love to have lunch with Keanu Reeves to talk/interview him about his new business. Oh, and the opportunity to learn more and get involved with @lumos founded by J.K. Rowling.  Visit seven or more wonders of the world and find a Traditional Publisher for my tales, this surrealist reality should have been up there in the land of ‘go for it!’

After pinching myself several times, I realised, I was still dreaming and I was still yet to officially network using verbal communication 1:1, everything I had done was via email, or the internet. I was living in a noisy world, through silence. Can you believe it? If you can, then you may begin to understand how solitude can turn into loneliness without connection and social gatherings, meetings and active communication, where you laugh about things or see another wince at the thought of all your antics.

The 5 second rule method really hadn’t worked because I hadn’t focused on the point. To achieve ‘contact’ with strangers it wasn’t about making more time for family and friends, which by the way made me feel great, but something was restraining me from connecting with strangers.  What?

Maybe I was worried that they might burst my perfect bubble of perfection.

This is One Writer in Progress, learning for herself that sometimes you just have to try something new even if it does feel a little surreal to find out what works and doesn’t work for you. I am still waiting on Keanu getting back to me regarding professional matters, but again… maybe some things are alike a lot of other things and never meant to be.

My new motto for the academic cohort of September 2018 onward will be ‘Never say Never!’

J. Spencer © March 2018