I started 2020 watching a friend broadcast live as he and his family fled one of the hundreds of bushfires that were burning around the time of New Years Day. He returned to find is house completely destroyed. With the rolling news coverage and the escalating disaster and lack of empathy from the Prime Minister (Scott Morrison) and the government, I was bundle of anxiety and anger for most of January. Where was a chamomile tea when I needed it? (the photo is from Google Images)
In February, I put my big boy pants on and went on a 3 day retreat with fellow WA children’s authors and illustrators to Margaret River. Yes, I felt like the new kid in school, but it was great to meet so many talented creators and learn about their creative process. I also learnt that children’s authors can put away a few bottles of wine too! I was in good company.
All smiling faces with fellow author Monique Mulligan at the Perth Literature and Ideas Festival in February. Little did we know that would be the last of the smiles for a while.
It was March and due to COVID19 events that had been planned since 2019 where now being cancelled faster than I could share the sad news. About 6 events including launch events for were cancelled and I lost a big chunk of income. Magnificent Mistakes Read my blog post from around th e time.
I tried to make light of the massive delay in the shipment of Magnificent Mistakes, but nothing could take away from the fact that no-one knew when the books would be in bookshops let alone in the country. My anxiety was rising. Trust me to try and release a book about mistakes and failures in the middle of a pandemic!
After watching the dunny paper and food hoarding madness on the news, I finally saw it for myself. It was really unsettling. The world had gone mad. This is where the dunny paper should have been at Coles in Bunbury.
The meltdown that was waiting to happen, finally happened and I had a couple of nasty anxiety attacks that left me physically ill and I vomited all over our cherry tomatoes in the veggie garden… twice!. Our copywriting business (our main income) had also been smashed with radio clients pulling their spends and work dried up fast. Read more about that fun time in this blog piece.
The relief was palatable as stock of Magnificent Mistakes finally started to arrive in bookshops, libraries and in people’s mailboxes.
With in person events cancelled, I shifted focus and did live launch events on Facebook and Instagram, which was a steep learning curve. I watched what other people were doing and did the same as you couldn’t afford to be left behind. I think my Corona Cut helped lighten the mood.
With kids being locked down at home, I also started a kid’s Youtube Channel so they could have something else to watch apart from online school lessons.
I continued to do live events while still not knowing what the hell I was doing.
A feature in the South Western Times in August. The headline has become my new motto.
More live events, this time Capel Shire’s Fact or Faction talk where I talked about my anxiety meltdown earlier this year and the importance of good mental health strategies.
Thanks to living in WA, in school visits were back on again and Dardanup Primary was the first cab off the rank.
Andy and I were invited to the Big Sky Readers and Writers Festival in Geraldton in October, where we presented the Find Your Creative Mojo workshop and I did several events for kids and was on a panel with Jo Jackson King, Natasha Lester and Annabel Smith. Andy rocked as the host of the Poetry on the Green Event. BTW He’s just released his debut book of surrealist poetry. Read it aloud, it’s great for anxiety!
Some events really stick with you and the Find Your Creative Writing Mojo for homeschooled teens in October was one such event. The workshop was about helping young people find their creative voice and given that most of the audience where either LGBTQI+, ASD or marginalised for whatever reason, the workshop was even more significant. I hope these guys go on and do awesome things.
12 schools, 600 students and 4 towns for CBCA Children’s Book Week through the Shire of Manjimup. It was great to be back on tour and doing the motel living thing. #rocknrollkidsauthor
Find Your Creative Mojo was released throughout South East Asia by Penguin Random House.
The talk about leadership and resilience to Year 5s at Leschenault Primary School in November also involved a beatboxing jam session with one of the students. That’s how we roll!
After quietly spending 2020 writing and illustrating Being Wildly Kind in the background, I was able to do the big cover reveal in November. The book should be out in May 2021, barring anymore pandemics.
After seeing my Josh Langley Gets to Know chat show, I was approached by the Children’s Book Council of Australia WA branch to help develop content for some awesome WA kid’s authors as part of a new project involving libraries across WA.
Filming starts in January for my online self confidence course for kids. Here’s a brief description “An online course and toolkit to help kids build self-esteem and accept themselves for who they are. The course focusses on developing self-acceptance, emotional and mental resilience, creative expression, and empathy. More like an empowering video series than traditional course, The course is run self-paced online then used as an on-demand resource and toolkit once finished. The course is different in that it uses storytelling and creativity to convey the key messages, so it doesn’t feel like schoolwork or homework. The entire course is based on my Being You is Enough series of books and will be launched March 2021.”
I’ve started to write a new book for adults. I’m about 10,000 words in. More to come!
The Turning Point of 2020
While I have to preface that I was lucky enough to be living in WA, fairly isolated from the most damaging affects of COVID19, in the early stages it took it’s toll on me emotionally.
However, I had a lightbulb moment about half way through the year.
I was feeling weighed down by lots of anxious thoughts, self doubt and fears about everything that was happening in the world, however something made me stop and look at my desk.
It was covered in grant application forms, a new book contract ready to sign, a sketch pad filled with illustration ideas for the new book and a pile of my kids books ready to sign and post off.
I shook my head and swore under my breath, ‘For f**k’s sake Josh, you’re living the writers life you’ve always dreamed of!’
It was powerful moment. I realised I wasn’t showing up for the life that was happening right in front of me, the one that I always wanted. I was being a victim to my anxiety.
So I challenged it there and then and told it
“Not here, not now, not today, I’ve got stuff to do”.
Josh Langley and this is my show. Let’s get on with it.