PBPD …

I have given the matter considerable thought and come to the conclusion that I am suffering from a never-before-recorded ailment – Post-Bliss Procrastination Disorder.

The sufferer, adjusting to every-day living following an extended period of rich life-fulfillment, plunges into distractions and diversions and finds they are unable to apply themselves to the pursuit of their dreams.

The disorder is further compounded by friends throwing great parties which side-track one from the business of pegging away at comparatively mundane – but still important – steps along the path of dream-realisation.

My dear friend Hannah triggered a major surge in my PBPD a couple of weeks ago when she announced that she would be staging a special birthday party for her husband Nick. Never one to miss a chance of dressing-up, she declared that all guests must come attired as their favourite musician from the 1980s.

I was immediately consumed by a vision of myself as Adam Ant.

Ah, Adam …

For Millennial readers, Adam was a leading exponent of the New Romantic movement who had me squirming with excitement as a 14-year-old. I began to spend much of my spare time sourcing such necessary costume items as white face paint, a pirate belt, dangly feather hair plaits, a dagger and a frilly-cuffed shirt. Substantial reflection and ingenuity was also invested in working out how to transform a black cropped jacket into a semblance of a gold-braided Hussar’s uniform.

The result, if I say so myself, was pretty awesome!

Stand and deliver!

Like all Hannah’s parties, this one rocked. The birthday boy was magnificent as Freddie Mercury, while the hostess with the mostest rocked Michael Jackson circa Billy Jean. The party was also attended by a Tina Turner, a Bob Marley, a Cydni Lauper, a Stevie Wonder, and a Beastie Boy among many others.

For HWB there was only one possible option – it had to be Bob Dylan. HWB is a die-hard devotee of the Bard, so he also got slapped with the white face paint and eye-liner to replicate Dylan’s look during his 80s Rolling Thunder tour.

I had barely had time to remove my lip-gloss when the next distraction presented itself – a girls’ night out to see Fleetwood Mac in Sydney. This PBPD-exacerbator was perpetrated by my mate Julie, who rounded up nine feisty and fabulous women for an evening of unbridled fun.

I discovered that it is impossible to contemplate plot modifications and calibration of chapter lengths while sipping champagne in a stretch limousine and energetically singing Black Magic Woman.

PBPD is, of course, seriously inflamed by work, family commitments, house cleaning, reading, cooking and … just about anything that doesn’t involve sitting religiously at the computer and editing one’s manuscript.

I’ve yet to find the cure, but hope that once I leap the hurdle of my brother Simon’s 50th birthday party this evening I shall summon the necessary will-power to refocus on the bigger, literary picture…

Maintaining Momentum …

Finally after almost a month at home I am beginning to feel like I’ve returned to the real world. I no longer wake up anticipating my stroll to the boulangerie and my quotidien perusal of le journal at Chez Felix. I’ve reacquainted myself with the morning chorus from the kookaburras and the pleasures of toast and Vegemite.

Living in Narooma is a delight, even in the depths of winter. It’s not hard to be here when I can toddle five minutes down the road for a lunchtime promenade on a stunning, sun-drenched, pristine beach.

Thursday’s lunchtime stroll ..

I’m finding great satisfaction in the small things, like the orchids in the garden that always bloom for my birthday.

And in the company and conversation of my dear friends, who continue to enthuse about my writing and encourage me to press on with the next phase.

Fab friends

I’m coming to realise that such encouragement and enthusiasm will be sorely needed if I’m to maintain momentum in the face of the daily grind. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but it’s much harder to leap joyfully upon my manuscript for a spot of pruning and polishing after a day at the employment coalface than it was sitting before my magical view in Carcassonne.

Now that the thrill of authorial inspiration has faded, I’m finding the hiatus between creativity and publication sadly deflating. There’s so much I can’t control about this process. It doesn’t matter how firmly I set my resolve or how disciplined I am about taking the next steps.

I’ve come to the bit where I’m in the hands of others – my beta readers, my hoped for agent. It now becomes about what outsiders think of my work and, like most writers, that scares the pants of me.

Maybe I’m completely delusional and all I have produced is drivel. Perhaps my perception of my literary baby as funny and engaging is the partisan fondness of a doting mother. Perchance my dreams of publishing glory are nothing more than a fantasy and all I’ve done is had a nice holiday where I’ve amused myself with my scribbling.

Not that that’s a bad thing. Before I departed for France I told myself that even if my book never saw the light of day I’d still have created a raft of unforgettable memories of my summer in the south of France, and indeed I’m fully satisfied and deeply grateful for that special experience.

But I persist in daydreaming about stacks of my novel perched enticingly for sale in airport bookshops, and the thrill I will have when I’m sitting on that panel at a writers’ festival whipping out my inscribed copy of The Burning Chambers before a bemused Kate Mosse.

Incurable optimist? Yes. Pragmatic realist? Also yes. I know I need to bare my soul and place my baby before impartial eyes, so I’ve taken the plunge and booked a manuscript assessment with Writing NSW in October. Someone with experience of the publishing industry – someone who really knows – is going scrutinise my work and tell me straight up whether I’m even in the ball park of possibility.

‘Till then I’ll peg away at my editing, maintaining the momentum towards that persistent dream.

Blanking the Blog!

Here’s an odd thing. After writing religiously for three months and still managing to bash out my blog each Sunday, I returned home and FORGOT MY BLOG!

There were some extenuating circumstances, but I was truly gobsmacked when a friend asked when my next episode would appear and I realised that Sunday had well and truly passed and the blog hadn’t so much as crossed my mind.

For the first few days at home I was just amazed at being back in Narooma and wrestling with returning to work. I had anticipated that I would have some re-entry challenges and I wasn’t wrong. Plugging back into email and skype and busting early morning and late night calls with colleagues around the world was a bit of a shock to the system after my fancy-free sabbatical.

But rediscovering Narooma was a joy and I managed to get out for a few lovely walks on the beach, revelling in the blue skies, roaring waves and cruising sea eagles.

Ahhh .. home

While I was in France I regularly pulled out this picture when explaining to people where I lived and was always smugly satisfied to see their gobsmacked faces at the awesome beauty of my home. It was heaven to be back.

Then on the weekend I buzzed up to Canberra for the wedding of my dear friend Amanda.

Beautiful bride

It was a gorgeous day and so wonderful to see Amanda blissed-out and glowing as she married her beloved Colin. I was only sad that HWB wasn’t there to share the joy since he was still disporting himself in Malta.

Week two was enlivened by a travel drama when HWB missed his flight connection in Dubai, and I went into emergency rescue mode, desperately rescheduling flights and hotels to get my husband home. And of course we had to celebrate our reunion, which culminated in a decision to stay up all night and watch the sun come up down at Handkerchief Beach.

Dawn of a new day

It was cold on the shore, but the beauty of the slowly emerging dawn colours behind Barranguba was breathtaking. The only downside was that sleep was the order of the day on Sunday – and I missed a second blog date.

I’ve been reflecting on this dereliction of my blogging duties and I guess I must have had a subconscious desire for a bit of a writing holiday after such concerted and sustained effort. Anyway, I’m back now and will continue to send out my Sunday missives until the end of the year or until I sign a publishing contract, whichever happens first.

Because I’m now in full-on pre-publishing mode. I have thrown myself into research on the complicated process of taking my manuscript from first draft to agent-ready perfection and it’s a bit daunting.

Stage one is to share my baby with a few carefully selected ‘beta readers’ (thanks Jean, Hannah, Julie, Bronny, Weed, Sue and Jeanne!). These valiant friends have agreed to take my book for a test drive and come back to me with frank and fearless feedback. I’m quivering at my computer as I await their responses. If they say it’s rubbish I’m going to have to take a good hard look at myself and my aspirations.

Ever the optimist, however, I’m working on the assumption that they might think it shows promise, and so I’m beginning to investigate manuscript assessment services, literary agents and publishers. I’ve secretly identified the agent that I hope shall be mine, and after forensically interrogating their author listing I took myself to the library to get my hands on as many examples of their recently published work in my genre as I could find. I want to be able to speak confidently about how well my work will complement their stable of writers – the book pile is huge.

I’ve also reformatted my manuscript, converting it to the required specifications – Times New Roman font, 12 point, double spaced, 3cm margins… These guys seem to be extraordinarily picky about such things, and I don’t want to end on the slush pile of rejection just because I failed to note their margin preferences.

And I can’t conclude without mentioning one last thing. It’s my birthday today 🙂 I revved myself up to make sure that 51 was the year of writing. Today my intention is firmly focused on making 52 the year of publishing…