Last week I began drafting a blog post about how I was going to start down the path of running a small hand-made jewellery business. I started thinking about my brand identity (including a name and logo) what materials and techniques I would include in my range, pricing strategies and how I would market and sell.
Then a few things happened.
Firstly, Steve Jobs died.
The internet marked his premature passing and one of the things doing the rounds was a commencement speech he delivered at Stanford University. In it he discusses how his own perspective on life was changed by his brushes with terminal illness and reiterated the importance of doing what you love.
The next thing that happened was that I received an email from one of the regular listings I subscribe to. It was from author and writing teacher Holly Lisle. She wrote how she had recently spent a couple of weeks with her son, back from serving in Afghanistan and that, along with some other recent events (including the death of Steve Jobs) had made her re-evaluate her priorities. In the light of this, she was going to quit teaching (which she enjoyed) to spend more time writing (which was her passion).
The last thing. I was spending some time working on developing the characters in the novel I’m going to write for Nanowrimo this year. As part of this I’d been looking again at Myers-Briggs personality profiles. I’ve been tested a couple of times at work over the years and my profile is a typical ENFP. (There are 16 different type profiles.)
Here’s a bit about ENFPs.
ENFPs have an unusually broad range of skills and talents. They are good at most things which interest them. Project-oriented, they may go through several different careers during their lifetime. An ENFP needs to focus on following through with their projects. This can be a problem area for some of these individuals. ENFPs who remain centered will usually be quite successful at their endeavors. Others may fall into the habit of dropping a project when they become excited about a new possibility, and thus they never achieve the great accomplishments which they are capable of achieving.
I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in fate or karma or that everything happens for a reason. I have witnessed the human ability to derive meaning from, and make the best of, difficult situations. Still, I’ve had the niggling feeling that I haven’t got a job yet because I haven’t quite done, or learnt, what I was supposed to from this last year.
I lost my job at the end of 2010. In a sucky job market I chose to spend four months travelling around the other side of the world. When I returned in May I got back to hunting. I really enjoy my career – I went through a lot of effort (including two other careers, a lot of volunteering and two degrees) to get it. But in the current economy I had a feeling getting another job in my profession wouldn’t prove easy and so it hasn’t. Five months later I’m still jobless, still looking and still living in my parents’ spare room, 200 miles away from all my friends and my life in London. As if to rub it in, three weeks ago I also broke my arm.
But I think I might have finally got it.
Over this summer and now into the autumn – in between job applications – I’ve variously dabbled with: editing my WW1 novel; working on a couple of short stories; writing poetry; non-fiction travel writing; painting; sculpting; making jewellery; papercraft/mixed media; photography; making cards; linocuts and printing.
I refer you back to the ENFP profile…This blog’s title was chosen for a reason.
There is one thing – above all others – that is, and always has been, my passion. Writing. Not just any writing, writing big, complex stories. Novels. I started writing my first proper novel when I was 14. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write stories.
It’s time to stop making excuses. It’s time to stop being distracted by whatever new hobby next comes along. If I’m to fulfill my life’s ambition – to be a novelist – I have to commit to that completely. If I fail to produce work that others can read and enjoy because of my lack of focus, that will be the greatest regret of my life. No more diversions.
Obviously I’ll still work at my day job (it keeps me sane and I need money to live) and I’ll probably still dabble a little bit in my other hobbies, but writing novels has to be my main priority. You don’t get to be an author without a lot of hard work and I need to crack on with it.