Lessons, lightbulbs and looking ahead

Sam Tench / Photo blogs / / 1 Comment

New Year’s Eve 2020:

“I have a great idea. I’m going to write and photograph a book documenting life throughout the Pandemic of 2020.”

Just like that, I leapt headfirst into the new and lengthy process of writing a book. To this day, I still feel the strong sense of determination, belief and enthusiasm underpinning this project. A quick glance at my photographic documentation was all I needed to reassure myself that this book needed to be written.

Hindsight can be beautiful. The idea mulling in my mind was incredibly alluring but I could never have anticipated the reality that lay ahead and the many important lessons I would need to learn along the way.

Writing a book is demanding and sometimes incredibly frustrating work. On countless occasions, as I considered a section to be complete, my editor came swooping in with a red marker indicating changes needed to be made, AGAIN.  Similar to playing tennis, the manuscript travelled backwards and forwards many times.  In the process a lot of ‘blood, sweat and tears’ have been shed.

People often romanticise writing a book; I’m first to admit that I’m guilty of this. I felt certain that everyone would be super encouraging and love the story that Resilience tells. Why wouldn’t they love my book?  Unable to see my naivety through the rose-coloured classes, I would soon learn that some people may not like my work while others would have suggestions for improvements. This particular hurdle was a game-breaker. I would either take advice graciously or jump to the conclusion I must end my idea forever. Accepting constructive criticism as different from personal criticism has been and continues to be excruciatingly hard. Despite this, I’m slowly learning to come to grips with reality in order to produce the best work I can.

The day came when my book dream materialised and I could hold it and hug it for the very first time.  The arrival of my first shipment of books sadly didn’t pan out as expected in my dreams.  I could never have anticipated how I would feel. My baby (the book) had arrived home, the source of countless hours spent staring at the screen of my laptop was in my hands. Yet, ripping the boxes open was like meeting a stranger for the first time. Unexpectedly, I felt little emotion; if anything, I felt indifferent. There were no bells and whistles, no big celebration, no one to scream at or jump up and down within hysteria. It was me and a book with my name printed on the front cover. Now what?  Can I please call a friend?

Writing books had never been on my radar. I could never have foreseen what I would achieve in 2021. Pandemic aside, the mere suggestion that I could consider writing, plus producing all graphical content, and packaging it into a beautifully presented book would never have entered my mind. Now that the book is here, I’m faced with many new reasons to feel anxious! I question who will buy it? Will it sell? And the obvious concern, who wants to read a book written by me?

Referring to myself as an author sounds foreign and wrong. A month after the release of Resilience – A Year in Pictures, the achievement doesn’t feel real. I continue to await that imagined massive rush of excitement and pride in the product of my vision; the book I’ve spent many hours working on. So far, I’ve felt little more than incredibly vulnerable and at the mercy of the people who read it.

The bigger picture

I’ve been caught in a whirlwind of processes and seem to have lost sight of the significance of the achievement. With the upcoming launch in the GT Magazine (January 2022 edition) I’m looking ahead at the bigger picture. I’m looking at the lessons, the hard truths and the glimmers of light yet to be discovered.   Snippets of wisdom I’ve discovered so far include:

  1. Writing a book is no easy feat. The process of writing, editing, coming up with a catchy title, the design and marketing is complex and time-consuming work. The good news?  This means I can do hard things. The proof is in the book!
  2. My gut feeling is usually spot on. Take New Year’s Eve 2020 when my intuition directed towards a completely new life direction. I listened, I trusted, and now I have a book.
  3. Nothing worth doing is without its difficulties or setbacks. This is a mantra I need to adopt moving forward.

What next? There’s much to be done to get Resilience – The Year in Pictures into the hands of readers. The work doesn’t stop here BUT, it is time to consider the future. Something profound within tells me there is more to explore in the story behind Resilience – A Year in Pictures.  There is more writing to do.

Mapping our future

One thought dominates and is difficult to ignore. It involves the production of a second edition to Resilience that encompasses the real-life experiences of residents within the Greater Geelong and Surf Coast region.

Everyone has a story to tell. Would you like to share your story? Perhaps you have kept a diary throughout the lockdowns, or perhaps you have vivid memories and would like to document them? Writing and sharing are highly therapeutic and can help in personal healing. Story-sharing can inspire others who may be struggling in silence and need a nudge in a more positive direction.

That’s where your personal experience counts. I’m looking for participants who are keen to share. Your writing doesn’t need to be word-perfect or grammatically correct; it’s your experience, your story, that counts.

To express interest or seek further information, send an email to: pichealer@outlook.com

Write a paragraph about the pandemic-related anecdote or experience that you would like to share. Indicate if you have diary excerpts you are willing to share, or if you prefer to complete a questionnaire. Further information will be provided when all contributors have been chosen and regular updates will be given throughout the book-making process.

Happy New Year to all. I look forward to hearing from you.

1 Comment

  1. Julie Johnson  —  9 January 2022 at 9:54 pm

    What you related here Sam about feeling vulnerable regarding criticism, constructive or otherwise and you are really at the whim and merciless end of an audience who may well never want to experience anything at all to do with these times in our lives. Feelings of being unappreciated for how hard and tirelessly you have worked is also another little sneaky one. Why do I think I might know anything about these feelings well …. I can empathise with my experiences as an extremely committed hard working teacher who was 99.5% of the time in great demand but if I got a dissatisfied parent for some reason or another and they were rare but all those same feelings came racing to the fore. They were very hard to shake off as well, a little seed of doubt can start to grow. I like your idea for the follow up a collection of personal anecdotes and also this will let you know what level of interest there is out there and whether it is worth the work on that topic. Be very proud of your achievements try not to let the little seeds take root and allow yourself some time to experience joy in what you have achieved through Resilience and your personal growth. xxx Julie


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