Keeping to a Time Line

blog owls

In story writing there is always a time line. Most children’s stories are in chronological time and easy to follow. Adult fiction often dips in and out of the chronology, taking readers back in time or plunging in some time ahead of the story line’s actual beginning, creating a more challenging read.

Sometimes my life gets a little out-of-order, and so does my time line. It’s probably why I draw new timelines on A4 paper, rather than write things into my diary. I like the illusion of control.

The down side of being your own boss is being able to alter that timeline and constantly push out your own deadlines. I am good at meeting deadlines. In fact, I am great at meeting them, I’m one of the most reliable people I know. That is, when someone else gives me the deadline.

Now, with only my dreams and plans dictating my day, and with many other interruptions and distractions in my life, meeting deadlines is not so easy. It means treating each day as a work day, and scheduling in time off, or time for other projects in my life.

I frequently draw inspiration from my eldest daughter, who asked me once, quite pointedly,  “Is it in your dreams, or in your diary?” It was a great question; so useful, in fact, that I quote her regularly. When friends say “I’d love to come and visit you … sigh…you’re living my dream…” I challenge them with this question. Very few of them reach for their diaries. Even fewer manage to get past the dreaming stage.

Today, however, is diary/time line day for me. It’s time review progress, and to set a new deadline or two. I’m a ‘big picture’ rather than a details person; I like to have an overview of my year.

At the end of last year my dream was to be sending manuscripts to publishers and to have sample illustrations for other books done by the end of March. I was then going to head to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (see earlier post) to familiarise myself with the industry, portfolio under my arm.

My timeline had dates running down the page and details of books, paintings and travel plans alongside them.

My aims to the end of March:
Three manuscripts posted to three different publishers.
Three more manuscripts finished and sample illustrations made.
My (still secret) book written and illustrated, ready to send to publishers.
Ten new paintings for a joint show in Italy to be completed.
Trip to Bologna as a hopeful writer/observer.

The reality: 
Loads of research into publishing, and the decision to self-publish was made.
Publishing house chosen, account set up.
Seven manuscripts completed.
Three illustrated books published.
Legal Deposit copies of three books posted to the  National Library of New Zealand.
My special (still secret 😉 coming later this year) book written, revised, and ready to illustrate.
Eight new paintings completed.
Three paintings currently on display in Cassino, Italy, at a group exhibition.
Blog up and running.
Lots of new materials purchased and work happening (a treat to play with, instead of going to Bologna).

Am I on schedule? Not really. I am still about twenty years behind with my goals, because it took me that long to move them from my dreams into my diary.

Today’s diary: 
Review time line. (Done). Decide what went well and what could have been better.
Set new deadlines. Then it’s on to some small pictures.

I have a tough boss, and little owls are waiting to fly.

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