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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Friday, September 16, 2011

No plan B

I was talking to a friend last night about making one's living from one's art. In her case, painting. She has been painting full time, and supporting herself entirely from her artwork since she was 22, so I thought she might be a good person to ask for tips on how to get there. Her answer was simple. So simple that I thought to myself: there must be more to this. But no, there wasn't. She said:

"No plan B." 

Yeah. Right.

But really, if I think about it, when I have no other option, I always manage to make things work in life. It's just that I have always done so many different types of things that there always have been other options. There has always been something else I could do if what I was doing was not working out the way I had hoped.

"No plan B" sounds good, but in reality it means a lot of hard work, and pushing through lots of mistakes that feel like huge pothole failures while they are happening. Just this morning when I woke up I had an email from someone I have been writing for explaining that my writing was still too poetic, and that she had cut a good deal out of work I had recently done for her and hoped that I would not be offended. This particular job is coming to an end, and I have a feeling that one of the reasons is that despite trying my hardest to conform to the style that this company was looking for, my writing was still too descriptive. I am not at all offended. Of course I want her to be happy, so whatever it takes to get there is what I will do, but it can be hard sometimes to not be too hard on myself for not getting it right. I have been doing some work for a food company recently also, and working with a new editor who has also been rather generous with the editorial changes. I recognize that I am just getting started, and that any good writer has to edit a good deal, which means that I would have to edit far more than a good deal given that I am just getting started, and have a lot to learn. Most writers also inevitably go through the phase of feeling as though nothing they write is ever going to be good enough, and clearly the only way to get better is to keep working away at it, but some days the feedback is easier to receive than others. I want all my clients to be happy with the result, so that is my priority, and if it means that I have to deal with more criticism for a while then I guess this is all part of the process.  

Deciding to commit to my writing is easy. Continuing to write when the feedback is anything but complimentary is really hard some days. Today is one such day. I am still trying to find my niche as a writer. Perhaps writing about food is just not my thing, and the only way I will learn that is by giving it a try, which is what I am doing. Or maybe I just need to keep working away at it even on the days when it is not really enjoyable -- maybe if I keep trying I will just eventually reach the point where I can hit the right tone right off the bat without losing my own voice in the process. The truth is that I most enjoy writing that is descriptive and poetic, and that I hope I will eventually find a market for this kind of writing. Where I can still hear my voice in the piece after it has been edited.

I went out into the garden a while ago, looking for something beautiful. I do this on days that are tough. Being in a relatively new community is teaching me to find little tricks to cheer myself up because most of my close friends here have young children, and are not available for a chat or an "i'll be there in 10 minutes for tea" date. Taking myself outside and away from my computer in search of something beautiful is one of my tricks. Today I found my tomato plant. Even though I had not watered it for a few days, I found six ripe cherry tomatoes on it. The smell of the tomato plant, the colour of the tomatoes, and the spray when I turned on the hose to water it all reminded me that life is not so bad. That I do have a green thumb, and I did plant these tomatoes, and they are still growing and producing fruit. That nobody actually has told me my writing is awful, and "how could I NOT have a plan B?" That committing to something that is as close to me as writing is and dealing with the criticism is all part of the process of becoming a better writer. That is it Friday and I do not have to face any more editors all weekend long. That I am going to an awesome devotional gathering this evening with a great group of friends. That I will be doing yoga in a park with over 200 people tomorrow morning. And that I get to go celebrate my dad's birthday (which is actually today) with him tomorrow evening, and one of my best friend's birthday with her on Sunday evening. In truth, things are really very good. 

I'm telling you, tricks work. :-)

Despite the challenges of having to push through the potholes that are inevitable with "No plan B," I am still liking the idea of it. It has a certain ring to it, don't you think? I think I am going to keep moving forward with it as my new motto. What do you think? Do you have a plan B, or are you completely invested in one thing work-wise?

Whether you are a plan B and C person, or a "no plan B" advocate, I hope your weekend is full of the beauty of Fall, and the company of loads of awesome folks! Have a great weekend friends!

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