Sometimes, we all need a lull. A period of less frenzied activity. A time of creative connection without the pressure of production.
More time to ponder, less time to do.
More time to wander, less time to rue.
I've spent the last month in a state of Lull. At a slower pace. After a deeply-dedicated, lengthy period working on my first illustrated book (I'm revealing the title at the end of this post!!), putting in about 900 hours and putting on about 900 kilos in the process, I've taken this time to walk, read, crochet, eat good food, and do yoga in the sunshine.
I've still had commitments, including finalising the next two books in the A Kids' Year series (out Aug 2016), finishing research and text for the following two books (out 2017) and writing some articles for magazines and reviews for Kids' Book Review. I've also had some events and promo for Smile Cry, but overall ... the balance has really shifted in my world.
It's been really interesting entering this Lull period because once you're immersed in a more balanced state (rather than having your head perennially buried in work), you can look through your own internal window and really see what's happening out there--perhaps for the first time in a long time. It's been an eye-opening experience for me, looking through that window with some long-forgotten clarity. It's made me realise how very much I need these periods of Lull -- to recalibrate, re-energise, and become re-inspired.
I also think it's helped forge a gentle new direction in my career, and I'm not even sure what that is yet!
I think we're in real danger of diminishing leisure time--touting it as 'lazy' or unproductive. We need it as much as we do our work. Without it, we are unbalanced, sick, angry and FAR from our best in a creative sense. It's the yin to our yang. And it should be slotted and scheduled and given as much importance and dedication as our 'work'.
Work that we love is vital for our wellbeing and contentment, but I'm sorry ... multitasking is dead. Being 'busy' is over. It's passé. I'd even go so far as to say that being 'busy' is kind of boring now, and I truly hope you never hear me say 'I'm busy' ever again. Do you know why? Because 'busy' is a sickness. And we are killing ourselves with it.
This past month, I've redefined what busy means. I've returned it to its original meaning--that is: 'occupied', as opposed to its more modern meaning 'having a great deal to do'. Having a great deal to do is an illusion. It's a self-imposition. And impositions always end up stressing us, throwing us off balance, or making us frustrated and miserable ... all certain paths to sickness. Of body, soul and mind.
Sometimes I'm simply 'busy' (read: occupied) with resting. Walking. Smearing honey onto sourdough. Staring into space. Ironing sheets (yes, I iron sheets; well, just the top part). Snipping roses. Painting toenails. Baking. Sipping tea in the sunshine. Cuddling my kids. And all of those things, contrary to what the Modern World will have us believe, are as important, if not more so, than producing, achieving, succeeding.
And don't even get me started on the warped idea of what 'success' means now.
We can't achieve, succeed and produce anything wonderful without the time it takes to dream and create. Leisure time gives us that priceless opportunity. And there's NO shame in it.
I want to ask you if you'll be brave enough to do something.
The next time someone asks you to do something, don't say 'I'm too busy/I'm snowed with work'. Instead say something along the lines of 'I'd love to do that for you but I'm going to spending that afternoon reading/walking/baking/sleeping/drinking coffee/staring into space/insert your own vital leisure pursuit here.'
I dare you to help change the false 'busyness' perception we're so entrenched in. I dare you to make it clear that Lull time is just as important, if not more, than 'work' time. I dare you to make it clear that we will take NO MORE lull-shaming.
Being brave myself, I'm now going to share with you all the lovely leisure/lull activities I've been doing this past month, that's made me unashamedly unavailable to do too much else, especially 'work'.
I created some portraits for two of my beautiful friends. Lisa-Marie Kerr of Bear and Sparrow (at top of this post) and author/illustrator extraordinaire, Nicky Johnston.
Nicky also did a portrait of me with Smile Cry! It was a heck of a lot of fun creating versions of each other.
My divine friend Jen Storer came to town for the launch of Smile Cry.
|love this girl (her fave page in the book is the one on the left--A GOODBYE CRY)|
We got to spend some treasured time together, and she even launched the book at Harry Hartog in Woden (above). You can see a wrap-up here. Jen has since gone on to launch a sensational new video series via her Girl and Duck creative inspiration and teaching site. They're called Q&Q Fridays, and in them, Jen answers all your most pressing writerly needs. All you need do is subscribe here and you'll receive free access to the videos via email.
I had a full page article in the Canberra Times, writing all about feelings in little ones (see it here).
I began a crochet project -- my first for the year. Canberra gets cold VERY suddenly -- usually in the space it takes to get the April school holidays over and done with. This is proving soooo therapeutic.
I actually created an image for the 52-Week Illustration Challenge, after a too-long hiatus. This was for Week 10: ANIMAL, and was inspired by the work of the amazing Oana Befort. I'm practicing different styles of illustration before committing to my next illustrated book. I dedicated it to my daughter, who kind of likes horses. A bit.
As part of that illustration exploration commitment, I also began (actually, late January) a course in illustration with Carla Sonheim. She has an incredible series of online classes, and I'm taking the Y is for Yellow year-long course which aims to build a solid body of work (something I sorely need). I'm loving it! It was great to spend time on this course the past month.
I decided it was high time to get some pro author head shots done. I've put this off and off and off and off, but, like a dentist appointment, I knew it just had to be done, and was so sick of that 'looming' feeling, I just got in and ripped that bandaid off!
When you have author head shots done, it's best to book someone really incredible. Enter the gorgeous, uber talented Christine Pobke, who took these shots at the National Gallery of Australia. With her beautiful little girl, Elsie, in tow, we had the most wonderful time. Christine made me feel so at ease and I'm delighted with these pics.
Having pro shots is so worth it--not only because they can make you look good (!) but because they make you look, well, pro.
If you want to have them done and worry about the cost, I suggest finding a great photographer via word-of-mouth and asking if they can do a quick 30-min session. That's actually MORE than enough time for a good photographer to get many great captures. You could negotiate a price that includes a couple dozen high-res digital shots. Be sure to ask them about shooting venues (they know best!) and maybe even offer to go to their studio, to cut travel costs. Also ask what they expect in terms of credit/usage of imagery, so you're clear on how you can use them. Photographers should not insist on a watermark or on-print logo/credit. It looks awful, and the photo is not about them, it's about you. Credit can always be given elsewhere.
What else have I been 'busy' with?
Oh - this 'cover girl' thing happened, sweetie darling. That was confronting!! but amazing exposure and great article, thanks to the gorgeous Laura White and the Canberra Weekly.
I marvelled with delight (and am continuing to do so) as the leaves in our garden began turning red.
I had a massage during which a Thai woman walked on my back and at times caused enough pain to rival childbirth. And this coming from a woman who had weekly, tough-as-nails massages while living in China. NO PICTURE of this one!
I signed up for this documentary series The Truth About Cancer. Whatever your orientation on this topic, it promises to be eye-opening and packed with confronting information and revelations. Methinks Big Pharma is nervous! Apparently over a million people have already signed up to watch.
Oh, and I lost a kilo. Only 899 to go!
I've committed to some wonderful upcoming events, including some Book Week visits. My National Library co-book-creator, Christina Booth, is coming to Canberra in April, and our local SCBWI chapter is thrilled to have a speaking engagement for her. See poster below.
Christina and I are in the final stages of our next NLA book, following in the footsteps of This is Captain Cook. Can't wait to reveal more!
I'll be reading Jol and Kate's fabulous book--I Got This Hat--for National Simultaneous Storytime at Dickson Library on 25 May. I'll also be reading a couple of my own books.
See all upcoming events right here.
And what's coming up? Some junior fiction. A new picture book idea. Crochet. Reading Flow magazine. Baking. Walking. Watching leaves fall while sipping coffee.
And now for an exciting announcement--I can finally reveal the title of my first self-illustrated picture book (out November 2016). Drum roll, please ...
Yes, that's right. Stay tuned. I shall reveal more in the coming months!