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What set it all off?

What on earth possessed me to set a 100 books published challenge? Two things converged for me over the last few of weeks. The first was a realisation that I was working with a number of clients who want to transition from office jobs to new careers as creatives. One of my clients wants to ditch the day job and do art, another wants to be a singer whilst a third wants to be a designer of cryptic crosswords. I have encouraged each of them to follow their dream, and worked through strategies to make it happen. Yet at the same time I haven’t pursued my own dream of becoming a writer. This is odd because I really enjoy writing and would like nothing better than to be able to focus all of my attention on that and not have to worry about finding other work to pay my bills.

The second was a book. I have just finished reading Chris Gillebeau’s book, The Happiness of Pursuit, Find the Quest that will Bring Purpose to Your Life. I have always liked the idea of a quest, who doesn’t? Many of us are on mini pursuits, be that train spotting or bird watching, walking from Lands End to John o’Groates, or a friend who planned 40 miniature adventures for her 40th year. They have an instant appeal.

Finding my quest

All the way through The Happiness of Pursuit I thought of the things I do that could be considered a quest. One of the secrets of quests, revealed in Chris’s book, is you are often on one before you realise it. You may have an interest in cathedrals, and visit them in each town you go to, as I do. Or an interest in basilicas as one of the people in Chris’s book was. But it becomes a quest when you are driven to visit every single basilica in your country. So, I wondered, is that my quest? I decided it wasn’t after a few moments of reflection. Whilst I might make a day trip specifically to see a cathedral, I’m not determined to see them all.

Finally, as I reached the end of the book, the penny dropped. I’m driven to write. I don’t just enjoy writing, I make time for it almost every day. Throughout my working career I have always written. No matter what else is going on, I write. The upshot is that I have 33 completed novels and 17 on the go, 3 of which are nearly complete. Quests have to be epic in nature. They can’t be something you can finish over a weekend, they have to stretch you. In an instant I decided, my quest was to publish 100 novels.

My stretching goal

I can’t tell you the sense of excitement this decision gave me. I’ve been slowly, very slowly, drifting towards publishing. For years I merely wrote for my own pleasure. Later I wished I could jack it all in to write, but I kept telling myself to be realistic, writing doesn’t pay. The average amount made by authors per annum is £4000 (although there is wide variation on this). Besides there’s all these hoops you have to jump through. You have to write to a particular formula and you have to convince a publisher to take you on.

But this is a quest. It’s about the showing up and the doing. It’s about overcoming the hurdles in your own particular way. It’s about reaching the finish line no matter what.

My solution is to self publish. When I first started started thinking about publishing I looked into self publishing and it wasn’t a great option. It had a stigma attached to it that only people who couldn’t attract a publisher, in other words bad writers, self published. It’s damned as vanity publishing. On-line publishing was also in its infancy and I couldn’t figure out quite how to do it. Since I last looked, self publishing has come on tremendously. It is now a viable option in its own right, and can also be used as a savvy way to advertise yourself to a traditional publisher, should you wish to go down that path.

Keeping myself accountable

Finally, whilst you can embark upon a quest and not tell anyone about it, I’ve decided to blog about my progress. I motivate myself, as an epic procrastinator, by setting a date I can’t wriggle out of. If I promise to teach a course or run a coaching session on a certain date I make damn sure I’m fully prepared by that date. Blogging about my quest, the successes and failures and lessons learned along the way will ensure I keep myself on track and accountable. It will hopefully be useful to others who are also on the writing path and will be a record for myself to track my progress. So join me on my blog, follow my progress via my newsletter or on social media. I’d love to hear what you think especially if you are a fellow quester or creative.