Excuses? (The Return of Procrastination)
Today I walked my son to school like I usually do. He likes to ride a push bike, one of those balance bikes without pedals. But recently he’s begun to outgrow it. With the coming of his fifth birthday he had also been making some changes – he is very much a person who decides to do things his way.
So this morning he decided that he would no longer ride his push bike, but would instead take his larger bike with the pedals on.
And he was about to give me a heads up about things while he did it……
He got off to a shaky start. The problem was that he no longer had the freedom of his feet being free to touch down if he felt off balance. The constraint of putting them on the pedals made him feel insecure and so there was a lot of stopping and starting. He would make an excuse and try to get off, saying that he had to walk it round the bend in the road, or that there was a beer can that we needed to kick along.
I said, no, today was not a beer can kicking day!
I didn’t let him get away with it. I pressured him to get back on that damn bike and get pedaling. I cajoled him and, just once, asked him why he was being such a wimp when he said he was going too fast – this from the boy who blasted his way down the woodland path from the water tower to the car park at the bottom of the hill, leaving me jogging to catch up.
Anyhow, it’s just under a mile to school and by the time we were rolling down the last straight to the school gates he had his feet up, balance together and pedaling gently. As he went he called out to the world, “this is fun!”
Like most things, it’s just a case of doing it until the fear goes away.
He parked his bike in “big boy” bike rack, and went to class while I headed home. But on the way I reflected that perhaps I had been just the tinniest bit hypocritical.
What triggered this reflection was the surfacing of a new deadline. I recently got the news that Angry Robot have opened their doors to submissions for authors who don’t have representation. That they are an imprint of the Big Five makes it worth a shot at getting in with them.
The draw back is that I have to make the submission by the end of May, and the book has to be finished so they can set to work immediately.
Now it’s a big assumption that I’d get an offer, BUT! if I did then I’d be screwed because although I have recently put up the first part of Red Star Rising, I haven’t done the edits I need to do. And I know that there are parts that need work towards the end.
So when I asked myself the question of just what the hell had I been doing with my time, I started to think that maybe I might just be the tinniest bit scared to take the next step, that I was just making excuses about getting my feet on the literary pedals because I too was insecure.
THE SPECTRE OF PROCRASTINATION?
I have perhaps mentioned that this blog originally started off as Escapades In Procrastination, that it was in part an attempt to talk about how I overcame some of the more obvious distractions that were holding me back.
But now I’m wondering if that procrastination isn’t lurking in the corner like some haunting shadow as I attempt to dodge the obvious next step in favour of dallying with short stories and platform building. Certainly my partner lost her rag with me a couple of weeks back and accused me of dithering because I was scared to actually submit my work.
I didn’t believe it then, but just how subtle can self sabotage be?
Maybe I’m being melodramatic, and I don’t feel afraid. After all, I put it up for people to read, didn’t I? But there are fears. There are always fears. A common one for most people is surely the question of “Is it good enough?”
So perhaps I was just procrastinating by writing all this stuff on the side, and while I tell myself that I was busy trying to build a platform, there is the obvious fact that no matter how much effort I put into social media it isn’t going to take off without a book.
Sure, I’ve built the foundations, but it’s the book that’s going to build on top of that.
So it’s time to focus.
Sure, I’ve made promises that I’m going to break now, but this is the most important point of all this work: finish the damn book. There’s time for other stuff later on, because right now I’ve suddenly got a deadline and thank the Heavens for that!
Because it means there’s a target, a place to aim for, and there’s no room left for excuses as time’s getting short. And all thanks to what can be learnt from a five year old. Sometimes it seems that for all the responsibilities and high tech toys we gather to ourselves, there is still a part of us that’s still trying to learn to ride a bike.
But all it takes is a little persistence and I’ll soon get the hang of pedaling.
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