If you’d asked me this time last year how I measure success, I probably would’ve said something along the lines of surviving my eldest turning 15, getting an agent and consequently going out on sub, preparing to chair events at the UK’s first ever Sci-fi, Fantasy and Horror Writing Festival and so many other literary happenings that filled my life. I was happy and finally achieving things on my bucket list that had previously seemed so far out of reach.
Fast forward a year and so many things have changed. I don’t want to make this post about C-19 and the various bumps in my literary road because it’s not, it’s about the changes that I, as a human make when faced with adversity.
I stopped writing AND reading. Two of my most favourite things to do in the whole wide world.
For some reason my brain decided that enough was enough. It turns out I only have head space to deal with so much. It closed its doors to my musings and the need to mull over every conversation and decision I made from 1986 onwards, and went off in a huff. I like to think it went on holiday somewhere warm with a cool breeze and an ice-blue sea to swim in but to be honest, I just wanted to know if it would come back.
And it did. Eventually. In little chunks.
I was getting used to being at home with varying degrees of time to myself and my urge to write and read slowly returned. My brain finally decided that I could actually open up a blank page and add letters to it. There have been a few days that I stared at that blank page as much as it stared at me but even the act of logging in was a vast improvement to what I had been achieving on a daily basis up to that point.
Little did I know that a story had been fermenting while my brain was in the huff-zone and it’s only now making its way onto the page but not without a fuss. Not quite kicking and screaming, more digging it’s heels in but slowly coming round to my way of thinking. A negotiation of will, if you like.
So, if I was asked the same question now, I would say that I measure success in that I am lucky because I get to wake up every day to spend time with those I love the most, who don’t judge me, who know when to leave me in peace when anxiety strikes and who bring me milky tea and a biscuit when I haven’t stepped away from my screen in a while.
At this moment in time, it can also mean getting dressed and remembering to brush my teeth every day. I’ve noticed that I no longer joke about asking what day of the week it is and I can’t remember the last time I wore my watch. I consider it a success when I allow myself to immerse my mind in research such as the breathing habits of newts (true story) or when I start to fill a notebook with ‘new story ideas and what ifs’.
Ultimately, success is being happy with the life that I lead and recognising my limitations for what they are rather than letting them define who I am.
Perhaps a bit profound compared to my usual posts, but you know what I mean.