If I were to sum up in one word my every day experience for the past ten months, then that’s the word I’d choose.
Of course, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. My life has changed enormously since entering the indie world. I’ve known the pleasure of sharing my books with thousands of readers worldwide, I’ve absorbed a staggering amount of information on marketing methods and the craft of writing and most importantly, I’ve met a large number of lovely fellow indies; some of them I’m privileged and proud to call dear friends today. But this amazing ride, hasn’t been without its drawbacks.
I remember in previous years since becoming unemployed in 2010, the time when I filled my days with doing virtually nothing of importance for hours on end. Especially the summers were real bliss. I’d go down to the beach every day, swim and sunbathe in the serenity alone (yes, my town can get quite deserted sometimes!), or at home I’d spend lazy afternoons reading in the porch. In the years that I still had a dog, I’d take it for walks and enjoy sauntering through fields. Up until a year ago, I also had a busy exercise schedule that I carried out in my living room: yoga, aerobics and weight training. I also practiced meditation 3-4 times a week. You may think that all the above summed up a boring existence but believe me, those years were highly beneficial because the aforementioned pastimes helped me maintain a deep sense of joy and perfect clarity of mind; not to mention a cracking good physical shape.
Sadly, becoming an indie author changed all that. This past winter saw me piling up the stress in the first couple of months. The main negative feeling I recall from those days, was the debilitating feeling of inadequacy that gnawed at my sense of self-assurance. And of course, there was a great amount of apprehension involved, plus a sense of loss of direction. That was when I was alone still. I hadn’t made any friends yet to offer their precious assistance, support and guidance. Basically I had noone who understood the indie world so that I could express my angst and seek advice. Stress took a very strong hold on me and the result was a case of frozen shoulder back in January which although has eased considerably by now, is still a daily issue. I’ve learnt a great deal about this temporary, yet stubborn condition enough to realize the cause was a combination of a lot of stress and the long hours on the computer without any physical exercise. I mean I wasn’t even leaving the house on most days. Sometimes it’d be a week or more before I had a proper walk.
Anyway. To cut a long story short, the past year has been quite different to life as I knew it before, and physically, I feel I’ve paid the price. Months on end of constant pain and nights without much sleep due to my frozen shoulder are the hardest lesson I’ve learnt from all the mistakes I’ve ever made. For this reason, I’m taking a substantial and real break from it all during my annual holiday, to make sure that the next year will be a different story.
In a couple of days, my husband Andy and I are off to Corfu to visit my grandmother for our annual holiday in her house for just over a week. I say holiday, although for me it’s always more than that: it’s a pilgrimage. Every object in her home and every square centimetre of cement on her yard carries a memory from my childhood, my teens and early adult years; from the days when my granddad and lots of other dear relatives were still around.
Even the village beach that you can see in the picture carries a wealth of memories from when I was only little. People who’ve read my book “The Lady of the Pier” might recognize the similarities with the descriptions of Sofia’s beloved villlage in the book. The sports pier you see in the photo is the one that inspired it all and in the distance, you can see the “pyramid-shaped mountain” that my character Sofia loves so. This place has in store for me all the right ingredients that can help me regain my sanity and high spirits after a difficult year where in times I felt completely lost, fed up, and other times, scared out of my wits.
It won’t be the first time this summer that I will swim in these waters and then sit on the sand to clear my head. But this year, I need it more than ever. I need it as to nurture me back to health and also to recharge my batteries for another year of mentally-exhausting, 10-hour workdays on the computer, even on weekends. To make things easier for myself, I plan to be offline throughout my holiday break.
At first, the little voice of my ego complained in my head, in that tiny 5-year-old voice, typical of someone so selfish and immature. “How can you be offline for a whole week? People will forget you! Followers on Twitter will unfollow you! Don’t you care for your friends? They might need you for something pressing! And what if this super-duper, mega-important email comes while you’re away, huh?”
But then the down-to-earth voice of reason came from my adult mind to calm down the irrational little child in me. “Come on, let’s have a swim or two in peace and the rest will take care of itself, shall we? I’ll buy ice cream,” I added with a mental wink. That did the trick and the little brat remains quiet still. It’s not that I could have told my blind, misguided ego the truth now. I could hardly have spurted it out that frankly, I am not THAT important after all. The world is not going to end. The earth won’t stop spinning around its axis just because I’ll miss a few tweets and FB posts!
I owe it to myself, to take my eyes away from the blinking screen, if only for 1 week out of 52. I feel I also owe it to Andy, to gaze into his eyes instead for a change. Poor guy – he’s been so understanding! I hardly take my eyes off the screen to look at him most of the time when he talks to me as I’m tweeting or emailing!
Truth is, I yearn to be “Sofia” again – to sit on that beach and gaze at my favorite ‘pyramid-shaped mountain’ for a while. To clear my head, hear the murmur of the sea and just be. God I’ve missed that! I just know that unless I do that, I simply won’t have the stamina or the mental capacity to brave another year in the same kind of rhythm.
So, my good friends, this is to say, I’ll speak to you again soon!
It’s been a tough year; yet it’s yielded a wealth of exciting beginnings and accomplishments for you and me. Here’s hoping that the next year will grant us all even more amazing days.
A great new year begins this September – see you then!