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11 February 2016 ·

Taking stock in a writing life

The new book, Dragonfly Song, is now with the proofreader, and after spending the last eighteen months saying that I was on a tight deadline, I feel as if I’ve re-emerged into the world. (Probably the deadlines weren’t actually terribly
Dragonfly Song manuscripts under the TBR pile

tight, it’s just that the book was so all-consuming that it would have felt tight even if I’d had another year.)

Now, for the first time in 30 years of writing, I’m planning to take a full month off, not only to catch up on all the jobs that have been neglected, but to reflect on this business of being an author, and how I practise it. Radical, I know – to actually try and think about the business I spend my life in!  And I admit that after three days of answering emails, writing ever-longer to-do lists, filing tax receipts, updating slide shows and avoiding the mammoth job of updating the website, it’s very tempting to start a new book instead. Not the big one, which I’m happy to let gestate a little longer before I begin – but there are several picture books in various stages of drafts, I could just pull those out for another look…
A bit of tidy desk
And some tidying-up still to go…
Creating is much more fun than organising. And it’s much easier to spend my time chasing a shiny new story and hope that the admin elves will come in at night to do all those other jobs for me. Maybe I’ve just never offered them the right fairy food before.
But so far – with the help of some EFT tapping – I’m resisting. Shiny new ideas will be quite safe in a notebook for a bit longer, and unlike website maintenance and tax files, they do often grow by themselves when left alone. Writing is my life, and I’m going to honour that with getting some space around it so that when I leap into the next book, the creativity won’t be overwhelmed with the weight of admin.
Or that’s the plan. I’ll let you know how I go.

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Wendy Orr is a Canadian-born Australian writer. Her books for children and adults have been published in 27 countries and won awards around the world. Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea have also become feature films, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island) and Bindi Irwin (Return to Nim’s Island.) Her latest book is Cuckoo’s Flight, a companion to the highly acclaimed Bronze Age novels Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance. Read full bio