I’m letting my standards slip

4 books in 9 months. If you had said to me this time last year that i would have written 4 books in 9 months and published 1 of them I would have laughed in your face. Mainly because this time last year writing wasn’t even on my radar.

Those of you who know me will be aware that i want to travel around the world without using a plane. Unless you are rich you need an avenue of income before you can even consider doing something like that. My first thought was to do football tricks. I was brilliant at it when i was in my teens, once doing over 2000 kick ups because i got bored of people constantly asking me ‘how many kick ups can you do?’ and have them say that i wasn’t that good when i replied that i’d never counted (i preferred to do tricks)

I tried to get back into it last year, but the humidity in Thailand made it difficult for me to keep motivated. I couldn’t practice for longer than 5 minutes before being drenched in sweat. In England i would spent at least an hour in the back garden every day honing my talent, not to mention the countless hours at school practicing with the better players at my school. I was finally doing what i loved; entertaining people.

Once i realised that i didn’t have the motivation to shake off 10 years worth of rust (if you are that motivated, you will never find an excuse. This time the excuses were there and i used them without so much as a second thought.) I dismissed it and said to myself that i’d try again when i was back in England (yep, another promise to myself that i knew deep down i wasn’t going to follow through with)

That brings me to teaching English; I don’t have a degree. I failed most of my exams simply because my mind was somewhere else for the whole of my teen years. (You could say that i woke up at around 19.) I didn’t think it was a big deal to not have any qualifications of any kind because i felt that if you were that motivated to succeed you would find a way no matter what, despite the hordes of people expecting you to fail.

Unfortunately one of the few places where that does matter is Asia. I got my teaching qualifications sure, but that counts for very little over here; they want to see a University degree before they even let you set foot in the door. If you don’t have a degree, you are not smart enough. That’s the unofficial rule.

Despite this i put my head down and worked my arse off trying to find an opportunity. Chasing down broken leads, being talked to like shit by potential bosses, whatever it took to get my foot in the door. I knew once i got that one opportunity i was going to take it. simply because opportunities don’t come too often for people like me. Not that i’m complaining; It feeds my motivation to succeed.

Finally about a month and a half later i got a job opportunity to teach a class in 15 minutes time. I lived 20 minutes away but cycled like Contador to get there on time. I was 1 minute late but i grasped the opportunity to get the class on a regular basis. Then they told me that they couldn’t give me a work permit because i didn’t have a degree. “That’s fine!” I enthusiastically answered. This was my one chance, and you can bet your arse i was going to take it….

3 months of teaching at a consistently high standard they changed their minds and said it was possible to get a work permit for me. The rest is history.

Then one day last December i was bored and decided to write a book. Yep, just like all of us have said to ourselves whilst drunk. Due to my admitted stubbornness i didn’t give up and actually finished the book. Once it was finished i tentatively gave it to a friend of mine who was a literature major in America and she told me it was brilliant, and that i should publish it. Again, the rest is history…

I wrote another one (the one i plan to publish very soon) about a killer written from a ‘dear diary’ point of view. I gave it to another friend of mine with a degree in psychology and a masters in criminology and she also gave me very positive feedback, with some small pointers on how to tweak it. It was then i realised this is what i can do; I can entertain people with my novels. Football tricks can be a side thing but i could make money from writing books, possibly whilst travelling around the world and absorbing multiple cultures which i could then utilize for future stories and characters.

Fast forward to today. I wonder whether i have too much on my plate and i need to either slow down or take an extended break, but my normally incredibly high standards are slipping, i can feel it. Normally i only succeed at things because my standards are impossibly high. So even if i don’t reach them i am still well above average. This isn’t just for writing books, i’m including blogging and teaching in this as well. For example lately I’ve noticed that I have been swearing a lot more in my blogs. Chasing laughs that aren’t there and trying to force them, and we all know what happens when you try to force a laugh.

I only wrote 4000 words last week; most of that needs to be changed since i knew that it wasn’t to my normal high standards as i was writing it. Hopefully this will be the kick up the arse i need. I know i have the potential to be a successful writer but at the moment that is all it is – potential. I need to sit down and hone my skills. I haven’t been in this game long. Other writers have more than a head start on me since writing wasn’t even a hobby for me until a year ago (so obviously i have never studied it) but it’s for me to start doing what i do best – overcoming the odds. Working twice as hard as anyone around me until i get to a level that only my impossible standards will accept, and that isn’t going to happen by wishing for it. I’ve got grab the bull by the horns and take it.

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