Category Archives: Life

The Chilli Effect

The Chilli Effect – photo by Blaise van Hecke

Do you like to eat chilli? Would you munch on one raw? Probably not unless you’re one of those people on a food challenge show on YouTube. Why do you think they would do it? Usually there is a reward for it, like winning the challenge, getting media exposure or winning money.

We will get outside our comfort zone if the reward is there. If not, we’ll remain as most humans are: lazy. What is it YOU want for 2018? What are you going to do to make it happen?

If there isn’t enough incentive for you to make something happen, it will be very hard to find the motivation to do it. I’ve lost count of how many people tell me in writing workshops that they feel unmotivated to sit down to their writing. This just tells me that they don’t want it enough. It comes down to the reason WHY you do it. Determine why and you’ll be able to have that to reach out for. It’s not easy writing a book or climbing a mountain, so your why needs to be big enough to keep you going when it gets tough.

I’ve told myself many times that I’m not a disciplined person. But getting something done actually doesn’t require discipline. It requires you to sit down and map a plan to get where you want to go. Sometimes you’ll get off track but don’t be hard on yourself. Get back on track and keep going. Keep giving yourself little pep talks and adjusting your plan to keep you moving forward.

Here are some of the things that I do to keep myself moving forward with my writing:

Set goals that are achievable.

I was writing my first novel for about 10 years and was still only around 20,000 words into it. I had plenty of reasons for the lack of time: running a business, two teenagers etc. Then I asked Les Zig to coach me. He told me to set aside 15 minutes every day. It’s easy to find 15 minutes. I got up half an hour earlier than usual (I’m NOT a morning person) and sat down to write. I managed to write the full novel in nine months by doing this.

It isn’t helpful to set goals that are too hard to achieve. Instead of 1000 words per day, aim for 250. If you go over it, you feel good and it’s better than no words at all.

Remind yourself why you’re doing this.

It takes a lot of hours to write a book. It may take time away from your favourite TV show, or Facebook or even your family. If you don’t know why you’re doing it, I promise you it won’t happen. My incentive was to just have written a novel. It was more of a bucket list item than anything.

Hang out with like-minded people.

When you tell someone that you’re writing a book, they might think that you’re all talk. Or they might wonder what you could possibly write about. It seems like a very indulgent pastime. When you find a tribe of people who do what you do, they’ll get it and will encourage and support you, as well as give you critical feedback on your work.

When the work gets hard, think about that chilli. Is the purpose big enough for you to keep pushing on? Take a nice big bite and reap the rewards.

Blaise, the book chick

The Genesis of Busybird Publishing – the short story

The Genesis of Busybird Publishing, image by Les Zig

Many people ask me about why the business is called Busybird. I guess it was an organic genesis. Let me try to give you a short version …

When I was a child living in the bush, I spent a lot of time hiding under a blanket watching birds. My favourite bird was the cheeky Willie Wagtail flitting from branch to branch showing off his beautiful blue-black tail feathers in all their fanlike glory, and the little Superb Fairy-wren, so delicate and pretty.

This fascination was further encouraged when my stepfather went to Melbourne and came home with posters of bird species from the Royal Melbourne Zoo. My little brain would attempt to pronounce the Latin names without much success but I learned about what noises the Whipbird made or what region the Welcome Swallow lived in.

Fast forward to adulthood and I began to collect bird trinkets: earrings, necklaces, scarves, ornaments, even a bluebird tattoo. Friends and family started to give me gifts that featured birds. I’m not sure what this fascination is about. It may be that I am an air sign, or I love the idea of the freedom that wings might give me.

In 1998, when I was making handmade cards (using feathers as a design element), it seemed very natural to name a business ‘Busybird’. I wasn’t after the ideal of ‘being busy’ but more so the industriousness of my feathered friends.

In partnership with my husband Kev Howlett, we tackled design and photographic work. The digital landscape was changing rapidly during this time. We got one of the first ‘bubble’ Macs, I learned how to send an email and got my first mobile phone (a red Nokia, no querty keyboard). I still have the same mobile phone number today.

We were fortunate to get a contract with Ford Motor Company digitizing their catalogues and this kept us very busy for almost ten years. But like anything in technology, a company in Sri Lanka out priced us and we lost the contract. At the time were were devastated but it allowed me to go back to school to learn about publishing. I had intended to learn about writing in order to finish my novel but I fell in love with the publishing process.

In 2007, while studying my Diploma in Writing & Editing, I met Les Zigomanis. We immediately found that we worked well together and had similar views about the writing industry. We decided to publish a short story anthology called [untitled] with a couple of the other students.

This was a VERY steep learning summit. This experience made us realize how many mistakes you can make when you don’t have all the knowledge about self-publishing, in terms of time and money.

This experience also made me realize that this is where I wanted to be: bringing books to life. I love the whole process and I love being part of this journey with people. It really can be cathartic, life changing, satisfying, frustrating, fun and rewarding.

Ten years on (we changed the trading name to Busybird Publishing) and we’ve  (the whole Busybird team) now worked with over 200 people to bring their book out into the world, and countless others to improve their writing.

I like to think that we are like a midwife. We’ll hold your hand, wipe your brow and whisper words of encouragement. We’ll also be there when you hold that baby up to the light and bask in the wonder of what you have created because we feel as much pride in the outcome as the creator.

What a blessing to be able to help give something wings and release it out into the universe. Everyone deserves a chance to have their story told, to have a voice. It’ll have different resonance for different people but it’s the value of being able to tell it as much as it being accepted by a reader.

If you’ve been thinking about your story, why not attend my next Life Writing session THIS Saturday.

Blaise, the book chick