All or nothing

When I was in my final year in high school, I played Ado Annie in the school’s production of the musical Oklahoma. Ado Annie is a great character and I don’t know whether I did her justice. I suffered terrible stage fright and when the curtain fell on the final performance I realised I was never cut out to be an actress. But the two featured songs that I sang in the musical have often come back to haunt me.

Ado Annie’s theme song is “I’m just a girl who can’t say ‘No'” which my husband jokingly says is my biggest problem. My schedule for August with school visits, book launches in Melbourne and Canberra, book events all over the place, the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, and dozens of social engagements looks a little scary. They’re all fun activities that I’m looking forward to but there are a lot of them.

In regard to blogging and writing, I think Ado Annie’s other big number is even more my problem. In June I wrote blogs nearly every day of the month. In July I was full of good intentions but life got in the way. It’s an annoying pattern I have with all sorts of activities, including my writing. All or nothing. Too often, I write in a white heat – hours on end at the desk until neck locks up and my muscles feel like they’re atrophying – while my brain fizzes. I tip thousands of words onto the page for weeks on end and then have to crawl out of my office to recover. It’s not a very intelligent way to conduct a writerly life and when my family was younger and imposed limits on my writing time, I had to have a more structured approach to the working day. Now that nearly all the kids have left home I can lose my balance and disappear into the office for days or procrastinate endlessly, imaginging I have a lot more time up my sleeve than I actually do. It’s a new phase for me and I know I have to break away from this ‘All or Nothing’ approach to work.

This morning, when I tracked down the film version of Ado Annie and her cowboy boyfriend singing All or Nothing, it sounded like the arguments that go on inside my head in regard to writing. So I’m promising myself that this month, despite the crazy schedule, I’m going to aim for a little bit of everything, rather than all or nothing. Hopefully that will mean a better month for blogging, writing as well as celebrating the release of my new book, ‘India Dark’.

Kirsty is an Australian author of books for children and young adults.

“Books are windows into other ways of being.”

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