It’s always wise to push yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time; I’ve always been a great believer in trying new things. When it comes to my creativity, I’ve continued to stick by that maxim.
Recently, I took the decision not to continue my relationship with Inspired Quill for any new titles. I was sad it had come to that, but the time was right for a change and I needed to take a change; yes, it means that I won’t have any new content published right now, but that’s fine. I need to find a new home for my creativity, and I’d rather take my time and do the search justice.
I’m still a published author – the three titles with IQ will stay with them – but I won’t generate any new content with them.
I started writing another fantasy story, because that’s my ouevre, but then I hesitated. Did I really want to continue just working in the same field? Well, yes, for the most part; I love science-fiction and fantasy, and would happily immerse myself in it all day, every day.
But I also want to try something new, something different – and see if I can stretch my range a little bit. Not because I think I need to in order to appeal to different publishers and agents, but because I want to see if I’m able to do it. If it does appeal to publishers and agents as a result, then fine – I’m content with that. If it doesn’t, and I stay in a niche, then that’s fine too.
Big changes have happened to me domestically; I’ve given up a job that I have worked at for over three years. I used to work full-time until my son – the jewel of my life – came home, and then I took off eight months as paternity leave before going back to work part-time.
But … but … it was too much, especially when lock-down hit and I realised how much everything was affecting me. Being a single father to a boy who brings me joy and wonder every single day of the week; work that was important and needed focus; my own writing career. All those elements were important to me, but I didn’t feel like I was doing any of them very well; my son wasn’t getting the focus he needed and deserved, I was struggling with work, and finding time that allowed me to write in a productive way was non-existent.
I say this not because I expect sympathy, because I don’t; I chose this life, and wanted to become a father more than anything else in the world. In order, therefore, to do everything justice, I came to the crashing realisation that I couldn’t do everything. I had to accept that I needed to focus on fewer things and do them as well as I can.
So I left the job that I had committed to three and a half years ago; it’s a hard decision, because when I do a job, I like to give it everything I’ve got – and I certainly don’t give up on anything very easily. But when I need to make a choice, then I stand by it. And I needed to change my own life style in order to commit to being a father first and a writer second.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that opportunities won’t come my way – and if they fit in with my lifestyle, then I will take the offer. If it doesn’t, I won’t. I’ve already had an offer of working five hours a week, which will supplement my income a little bit and give me some brain focus on something.
That in itself is an odd occasion; I hadn’t expected to get some hours so soon after refocusing my life on fatherhood – but reducing my hours from 22.5 to 5 most certainly helps. I can already see the benefits in my relationship with my son; he is delighted at getting our relationship more focused on being together, and I can give him my attention as well as help him be more independent.
I also feel a pressure leaving me that I didn’t entirely realise I was carrying; the pressure to be everything to everyone. I realise now that it’s not possible to be that person. My son needs me to lead and set a good example; being by his side as he grows and develops from a child into a man via the traditional route of time travelling one day at a time. I need to help him grow the skills of resiliance, strength, and love – which doesn’t mean keeping him by my side at all times of the day and night, but ensuring that the time with me is more solid and less “stressed daddy.” He’s had to put up with that far too much lately; it needs to change, and I can’t give him the emotional support he needs if I’m not giving myself the same emotional support.
And then there is my writing. It’s something I love; I want to be a full-time writer one day. Financially, that’s not possible at the moment, but I need to write because it’s a passion of mine – I don’t want to do it because I am forced to or because I feel an obligation.
I don’t; I care about my writing, and that is why I want to take it back to basics. I have been published six times; three novels with Inspired Quill and in three anthologies. I have been a director of Thanet Writers. I am a columnist for the Isle of Thanet News. I write this things down because they make me proud; I have had the opportunity to write for newspapers and magazines, opportunities I would never have imagined a decade ago.
It can take a lot of courage to follow your convictions; you need to be sure it’s the right decision. To be a full-time father first, and work out everything else around that, is right for me; it doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own life, but it means that I can do it on different terms than before. I can’t be someone I’m not, but I love becoming who I am meant to be; a father, a writer who is looking for a new direction in my career, and with other work where I’m right for them and they’re right for me.
When my son comes up to me wanting a hug, and we sit together in silence for two or three minutes just savouring our embrace, I know that every change I have made in my life this year is absolutely worth it. I don’t know where it will all end up, but I know I have made the right choices for this moment in my life.