I haven't been around much over the past couple of months. True.
Mostly because I have contractual deadlines for a new book series and two new Flower decks and I also have my novel to complete this year. That is a lot of work and I really am not in the position to pay/ask someone, or to actually want to have someone, run my social media for me. I can only do so much in a day and it means I'm too busy to post videos, photos and blog posts about what is going on because the reality is, when you have a lot of work to do, you have no additional time to do much else.
Then there is this thing called, LIFE. Relationships to tend to, dogs getting sick, kids having life changes, bathrooms to paint, cars to fix, gardens to love, books to read, health to look after, places to to go, people to see, just like everyone else does. I'm ok, I'm just busy! :)
My work with Botanical History also takes a lot of research and what you see published this month, was planted years before and ended up with my publisher at least six months to a year before it sat on bookshelf. People who do not read my work, constantly ask me if I channel or make up meanings and messages or if I have someone else help me. No I do not. All my work is researched back through history, through to the very first indication of each plant on earth and then back through the multitude of ways the plant has been used and has been a part of the Ethnobotanical relationship for me to then include it in whatever I am writing. That takes a lot of care, a lot of time and all of my focus.
My blog post today is actually prompted by an increasing amount of email I receive asking for help to be an author. Nearly all tell me they have a brilliant idea for a book or deck but haven't started it and won't start it until they get a contract or are sure it will sell. Then there are the next lot of people who have started their project but haven't finished and want to know if what they are doing will sell and if not what I think they should be writing instead to get a publishing contract/sell lots of copies and so on. I very occasionally get correspondence from someone who is dedicated to a passion and they just want tips on how to have their passion shared and hopefully get published. The rest are dedicated to the passion of success. Nothing wrong with that, but I am the wrong person to ask.
I am not measurably successful by everyones standards with everything I create because I do not follow trends or look for 'gaps in the market'. I don't know how many people click on my social media posts. I am too time-poor to work at 'engaging an audience', I do not change my fonts, colours or content inline with analytics and I do not look at similar pages and people to myself in order to expand the audience I have. BUT, and this is very very important, there is nothing wrong with all of that! I just do not have the resources for it and I adore my botanical history research, writing and art creating and then there is my garden which, as any of you who garden know, takes a huge amount of my time but I give it lovingly.
I simply can not give up any part of what I love doing for what I probably need to do in order for me to do more of what I love. My choice.
This time next year, I will have eleven published titles worldwide. 10 will be focused on flowers, one on a type of plant. Eleven in the fours years since I became a published author. This is because my passion is exploring Botanical History, particularly the Language of Flowers, Ethnobotany and Gardening. Plants are my focus. I have written about plants and created art about plants for decades and so when it came to becoming published, I was ready. Ready to share what I had already completed, ready to create new projects and when people approach me with their ideas for me, 99% of the times, I had already done it, started it or planned it out. Why? because I was already living my passion with focus.
Focus like this makes following your passion very easy but it is not the easy road at all.
Not everyone will like what you do, they won't want to publish it, buy it, talk about it. They will have expectations for your work which has nothing to do with why you created something in a certain way. (I wrote a dictionary, Flowerpaedia, of a 1,000 flower meanings completed translated both ways like a human language translation dictionary with instructions of how to view the flowers online if one wished so people could carry it around with them but some just can't grasp the concept that having it illustrated would mean it was coffee table sized tomb at 4 times the price). This will happen to you if you put yourself out there with what you believe in, not everyone will like what you do or how you do it but if what you do is really your passion, then trust me, you will bob back up with lessons learned (or simply shrug off it off) and set yourself on that road again. If you can not? Then it was never your passion to begin with.
None of the time you spend on your real passion is wasted!
A lot of people tell me they are worried that they are wasting their time on their passion and could I suggest a better subject they could be doing. I have created artwork, written parts of books and decks for things which haven't seen the light of day yet but they might later on. They are still what I am passionate about, they are still part of the conversation that I engage in every single day. Nothing is wasted if it is what you are meant to be doing.
Live your life in your passion. The amount of people who approach me telling me that they want to write/create decks about the meanings of plants and flowers as well and would I kindly share my booklist so they can find the meanings too is staggering. Seriously staggering. I do have a cheeky response, "Go and ask your garden" to which I sadly and usually get the response, "Oh I have a brown thumb". Then what is it that you do have an affinity with? That is probably where your true voice can be found.
Again, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be successful financially or in popularity and some of the most successful people on this planet are successful for just being successful. Yeah that's a lot of the word successful! :D If that is what you are looking for, them you need to seek out people who are more the entrepreneur. Everyone's measure of success is different and so is mine. None are 'better' than the other, they are just different. My personal measure of success is not how many people come and see me at talks and workshops, its not even how many titles I sell or where, it is the completion of a body of work that I have created no matter if it is published/exhibited or not. I think it is very important to share that because there are a lot of people I meet who also measure their success and contentment on this very same scale. You are not better than others, just different. Again, your measure of success is personal and if it is dollars in the bank, clicks on a social media post, bums on seats, completion of a novel, discovery of a concept, whatever it is, it is no more meaningful than the next person because it is what makes you jump out of bed each morning, makes you tick, what make you personally content and drives you forward.
So what if you fail?
I have a deck which hasn't done as well as the rest of my work but I love that deck. It is everything I wanted it to be, a collection of the Flowers which grow at Sacred Places around the world. It is the oracle deck Flower Reading Cards. Maybe the title didn't really 'sell it' that well, maybe the colours and fonts didn't cut it, perhaps my lino-print artwork was too loud, bright or just didn't resonate, maybe everyone else just thinks it is crap, but I don't. I think that deck of Flowers is wonderful. The work to put it together was immense and exciting and filled my days with so much joy as I was lead down ever expanding paths through history on the trail of each flower and the places it originated from. Because my measure of success wasn't how many it sold, it was what I did every day and what I still do with that work, I look at that body of work as incredibly successful.
Don't work in response to others.
I work very hard at my passion and nothing I ever create or share is in response to anything or anyone else except 'The Work' that I do. There is zero room for that sort of energy in my life and I often see others doing it and believe me, they are never happy. Its a never-ending game of one upmanship. Walk, no run, away from that energy. Head down, tail up and onward my friend. Blinkers on because believe me, the minute you step foot out there someone will tell you that they thought of what you are doing every single day. Usually they will not of stepped out there with this similar work themselves but even if they have, (or quickly do in response to you work!), if you are creating authentically and with focus then what you are doing can not be battered or dented with such energy.
So to be at success at whatever it is that you want to be successful in, you need to sit down and define your measure of success first.
Don't be shy about it and be honest. Find your passion (hint, it's what makes your heart beat a little faster when you come across it.)
Then live it with focus every day.
bunches of love,
I haven't been around much over the past couple of months. True.