Annnnnnnnyway, none of that is actually what I came here to write about. We worry about a lot of stuff, and by we, I mean everyone in the entire world except for the robots.
And the zombies.
Zombies don't worry. They just get out there and get stuff done. See, they control what htey can control, and they don't worry about the other stuff.
Because they can't control it!
They worry about how fast they shuffle after someone and they worry about which brain they want to eat and they worry about how low their eyeball is dangling.
We can learn from this. Of course we can, we can always learn from zombies. In life, there is so much we can't control. Mean teachers, the weather, what people think of us, we can't control any of that. All we can control is how we act and how we feel. That's it. No more, no less.
No one else can control how hard you work. Only you.
No one else can control how you feel about things, in fact no one else can even make you feel anything, only you.. Three people could tell you exactly the same thing, and you could react differently each time. Why? Because of you!
I am a writer. I can't control if a publisher or a reader will like me or my books. Everyone has a different opinion. All I can control is how well I write, and tat is my total number one goal, to be the very very best writer I can possibly be. That way I give people a greater chance of liking my books, but even then there will be people who don't like them.
People don't like Dr Seuss books or Harry Potter books, when lots of people do ... and by lots of people I mean 79 gajillion!
There's a really cool saying by someone I don't know. Don't worry about the things you can control, because you can control them. Don't worry about the things you can't control, because you can't control them.
Why whinge about the weather when you can't do anything about it? What you can do is change your attitude and make it an awesome day no matter what!
Why whinge about the person who didn't like your story or the person who didn't like you or the person who tried to eat your brains? Just learn from the situation, remember that all you can control is how you act, and move on!
Be authentic, be real, and be brilliant, and then let other people react how they are going to react.
And remember that you can't force anyone to do anything. It's up to them.
Just like it's up to you.
Now get out there and be awesome!
Seriously. When a zombie looks in a mirror, it isn't like a vampire. You can see everything. All the gross bits that are hanging off are in very vivid detail.
And when a zombie reflects on his or her year, that is pretty gross too.
"Braaaaaaiiiiiiinnnnnnnnssssss!" they think or say. The length of the word reflects how many brains they have eaten that year, and so lends itself to a conclusion of how succesful their year has been.
"Brains." Bad year.
"BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!" Fat zombie.
At the end of a year, I like to both reflect on the year that has gone and also set goals for the year ahead ... in fact, I set financial year goals, I set quarter year goals, I set seven sets of calendar year goals, and I set five year goals too!
But that is goals, I want to talk about reflection. It's hard, sometimes, when you look back at your year, to decide if it has been successful or not. See, what one person thinkis is successful, another may see as a failure!
Not sure what I mean? Okay, so say there are two professional swimmers. One, Swimmer A, has a best time in the 100m of 50 seconds. Another, Swimmer B, has a best time in the 100m of 59 seconds. Say, over the year, each of them did a best swim of 53 seconds. For Swimmer A, that is a bad year, as they didn't get to their previous best. For Swimmer B, however, it was an awesome year, as they beat their previous best by 6 seconds!
So a very important measure of success is working out what success is for you. It could be beating a previous best at something, it could be staying at the same level.
And sometimes, when other stuff happens in your life, your focus has to go there, and so your performance may suffer in other areas, but it may still be a successful year.
For me, in writing, I like to look at how many stories I wrote, how many books I published, how many copies I sold, and how well I connected with people I spoke to at markets and in schools.
But again, what I aim for will be different to what other people aim for. For some super-busy people, writing one story would be amazing! I aim for more because I have the time to write.
Basically, what I am trying to say is this ... don't compare your year to anyone else's! Who cares what anyone else did. Unless it inspires you to be better, don't worry about it. You work out what you want to achieve, and you go for that. If you reached your goal, awesome! If not, work harder next year.
That's what zombies do. THey don't care if Fred ate more brains than they did. They just enjoy the brains they ate, and there's a little something in that for all of us, and possibly a little something of us in all of that.
So, to finish off my posts for 2017, have a very safe and happy New Year. 2018 is gong to be amazing. I can feel it in my bones. So bring it on, and make it a year you are proud to reflect on in 12 months' time.
See, the thing is, you have to celebrate your achievements. I've talked a lot on here about setting goals, and not giving up, and trying hard, and eating brains, and that's all well and good and awesome and gross, but what about once you reach your goals?
I mean, I then set new goals and start going after them, but life can't just be all set goal go for goal get goal rinse and repeat!
There has to be a little fun in there too!
Zombies know this! When they set a goal of chasing someone down so they can eat their brains and suck their nose-hairs out to use as a toothpick (admittedly a very bad toothpick, but I never said zombies were inspirationally smart), they celebrate! They celebrate by roaring and grunting and groaning and eating that brain like it's the last brain they will ever eat.
You have to celebrate the little things.
Along the way to your goal, celebrate the little milestones.
Trying to run 10km? Celebrate the first time you get out of bed rather than rolling over because it's too cold. If you can only run 500m at the start, celebrate running a kilometre! Celebrate the first time you run 5km. Celebrate the first time you go for a run and don't end up lying on the ground crying because your legs are sore!
So I have just released a brand new book, Ninja Inspiration, and I am usually pretty bad at celebrating these things, so today that is all going to change. Because ninjas are good at celebrating too! Yep, after they have assassinated someone using only the broken wick of a strawberry-scented candle, ninjas celbrate by very quietly sipping a cup of tea and washing their hair.
You have to celebrate the little things.
And the big things,
Basically, if you set your mind to something and you achieve it, or you improve greatly on the way to it, or you simply have been trying really, really hard towards a goal ... celebrate. Take some time out to let yourself know you are doing a great job, and that you are awesome, and that you are in the top 1% of the world for awesomeness!
You deserve it.
Okay, I'm outta here. Have to go and quietly sip a cup of tea and wash my hair ...
See, here's the thing. Friendship is one of the coolest things in the world. Friends can and should become like family, and are even more important than family sometimes because you get to choose them, and you want to choose awesome people who make you feel good!
So choose wisely.
It's like Rock, Paper, Scissors but almost more important.
But surely there are some good points about zombies and friendship? I don't know. Here, let's list the good and bad points about zombie friendship.
They will try and bite your face off and eat your brains.
They will try and eat your other friends' brains.
They have no consideration about other zombies, and will actually fight other zombies to get what they want.
They always have to be first.
They only think about themselves.
They surround themselves with other people who want to bite your face off and eat your brains.
They make you feel nervous and worried about what they will do.
They will never give you a lift somewhere if your car has broken down.
They will lift you up and carry you to their favourite lunch spot (this sounds nice ... it isn't).
They work together with other friends towards a common goal (which is to eat YOU! Not good!).
They are often the ones to make the first move, so you don't have to chase them down to catch up with them. They will pretty much always chase you first (So they can eat YOU! Not good!).
They are reliable. Not many surprises with old mate Tombie, I mean zombie (Yep, you see them, they try and eat YOU! Not good!).
Okay, so even the good things are all things that mean they want to bite your face off and eat your brains.
Here's the thing. Friendship is a two-way street, and is about give and take, and is about wanting your friends to be happy. If all you worry about in a friendship is whether your friend is going to hurt you, or eat you, or stab you in the back (literally), that isn't a friendship for you.
Choose your friends wisely.
Choose people you want to be around and that you feel safe to be around. Not only will that make you feel better, but if there IS a zombie apocalypse, they're the type of people you want to be with.
Also, if there IS a zombie apocalypse, trust me, keep your DVDs and keep your real books. That way, when everyone else is running around all, 'Ohh, noooo, I can't watch my favourite show because the internet is dead, and I can't read because there's no electricity, and I can't sleep because someone is trying to eat me,' you'll be all, 'Well, hey, we can watch a DVD because there's still electricity, and we can read these wonderful books that don't need batteries or streaming, and we can sleep because I built a house that is zombie-proof and awesome!'
So there you go!
Balance is also important when you start getting super busy, whether that's at school, or work, or anything at all. If you let one thing take over your entire life, you can very quickly either burn out or get bored or get eaten because you are so focused you don't see the zombies coming.
Zombies don't have balance. They are totally focused on one thing, and while focus is massivel;y important, it is great to focus while you are in your work, but you need to be able to take a break and focus on other things as well.
As a writer, there are a few ways I get super busy. Sometimes it's when a deadline for a book is due, and I have to finish it to get it to the printer.
Sometimes, like right now, I am in the midst of 52 million school visits, heading out every day to talk to kids around Victoria.
Or sometimes it might be that life takes over.
When this happens, things get pushed aside. I may not write at all if I am doing lots of visits. I don't like this. Writing is a life-source for me, and when I don't write it kind of dries me up a little. Which makes me look like a zombie ... which is actually very handy because then they won't eat me so hey, dry away, face!
Anyway, what I find is that it is very important to try and find balance. You don't have to do huge things, just make sure that if you are caught up in work or assignments or whatever, that you take time for yourself as well.
Even if it's going for a loooooong walk, or heading out to the Ariana Grande concert, or even just dinner out or going shopping or playing an instrument to change things up, you need to get away fromn the thing that is dominating, otherwise it will, well, dominate!
Most of the great creators had other interestes as well. They may have played multiple musical instruments, or invented things, or been runners or skiers. It doesn't matter what it is, it is great to have other interests outside of your main one. Not only will this give you a break, but it can actually open up the door for new ideas and thoughts to come in. I have actually solved many probl;ems in stories while out on a walk, or just hanging out with friends. I thought of a brand new story idea the other night while at a Pete Murray concert, just from a line he sang in a song. or said before a song. I can't remember. It doesn't matter. I wrote down the idea and then went back to hanging out and relaxing, standing at the concert, swaying to the rhythm, trying not to hurt anyone by my dancing.
I succeeded ... mostly.
So look for balance. Look for things that make you a well-rounded person. Zombies aren't well rounded. They're kind of jagged and bony and scabby and gross.
Good luck, and remember, if at first you don't succeed, sky diving isn't for you (Thank you Stephen Wright for this one!).
And when I say goals, I don't mean goals from the Latin Go, meaning go, and Al, meaning that guy from down the street (as in you yell "GO, AL!" when he's being chased by a zombie).
Nope, By deadlines and goals, and in my case this last month it was a writing deadline and goal, I mean setting a timeframe to get something done.
Zombies do it. They want to eat your sweet, sweet brain.
Zombies do it. They want to eat your sweet, sweet brain like right now.
Okay, so here's what I had to do.
I had been inspired by a friend - funnily enough a guest poster on this blog a while ago, Miss M - to write a new novel about a certain lad named Pete McGee. I had already released three books in the series, and they were pretty much my all-time favourite books I have done.
I had thought the series finished. Done. As dead as someone getting one of those flatlines on the hospital beepy machine. But it turns out it wasn't. As I started thinking about a new story in the series, ideas kept flying at me like zombies on a leftover brain. I realised I had to write this story.
I had a goal.
But I kept pottering around, getting excited about ideas, but really just writing notes on it.
Then my writing group decided to do a novel in a month ... I had a deadline. Coincidence? I think not!
It was writing time. I started writing the new book, tentatively titled I don't know what to call this book.
I wrote 13,000 words ... it wasn't working.
I started again - 13,000 more words ... it wasn't working.
The deadline was looming.
Pressure was mounting.
And then it hit me. I had the answer. I realised why it wasn't working and I started again.
And I wrote.
But with not many days to go, I still wasn't done.
Previously, I had a record of around 5,000 words written in a day, and that was on an earlier Pete McGee book (Pete McGee: Dawn of the Zombie Knights).. With four days to go, I matched that record.
On the third last day, I was out and I wrote, by hand, around 2,000 words.
On the second last day I took those 2,000 words, and added another 5,000, over 7,000 for the day, a new record.
But on the last day, the day the deadline was up, the .day the goal was due, I still wasn't done.
So I sat, and I wrote, and over 10,000 words came out to finish the story!
It was massively exciting and a massive relief and a massive moment of pride that I had done it.
This was a first draft, so not all of it is perfect, and not all of it will stay the same, but on that last day I was so in the moment and focused and flowing that I became the story. I had moments where I was laughing, and moments where I couldn't even see the words on the screeen because I was crying so much. It was an incredible feeling, and one that was made possible because I set the deadline and I made the decision to stick to it.
So this is something I aim to do again, many times over, setting myself a challenge, a deadline, a goal, and then actually going after it. It's easy to set goals and let them drift by, to know what you want and need to do but to not do it.
But, as Derek Sivers says, "If knowledge was everything, we'd all be billionaires with six packs.
You won't always reach your deadlines and goals, but that's okay. Zombies don't always reach theirs, and that is a win for us!
So let's do it!
The main point is this - zombies are takers. They take brains and they take limbs and every now and then they take eyeballs. This is why, in the end, they lose.
And this is why, if you're just a taker, in the end you lose too.
Being a giver is a win for so many reasons, not just so that you can feel good (although that's a bonus!). The thing is, when you give to other people, and you might give time, money, advice, friendship, a listening ear (zombies are very happy to take this one. If you want to give to a zombie, a listening ear is the best thing to give. Not many people know this, but that's the reason why Van Gogh and Chopper Read chopped off their ears. It wasn't to make a statement. It was to give something to the zombies so they could escape and live for a little bit longer. True story).
One of the greatest things about the children's book community I live in is that it is a community of givers. It's a community where everyone wants everyone else to do well, so there is incredible support and incredible wells of experience and advice. I personally have sat down with some of the very, very top authors in Australia, and without even me even asking they show an interest in me and my work, and give advice, lessons they have learned, things they have done, things I should do. This not only fires me up to do all these things, and to learn from these legends, but it also makes me want to do the same for other people.
I am naturally a giver anyway, and love donating money to charities, but some of the best feelings I have had have come from being able to pass on knowledge to other people, and from being able to listen to friends and give them my time and attention and love.
And, don't get me wrong, it isn't always give or always take. Doing these things makes me feel good, no doubt, Gwen Stefani. But the focus is pretty much always on helping other people, on giving, and so the feelings of niceness are the bonus side serve of dairy-free ice-cream.
And I heard a really nice quote the other day, just to finish off. Here it is.
NO! That wasn;t it! I mean, that's a lvoely quote if you're a zombie and you hear it and you realise there are brains fresh for the eatin', but the quote I heard was this ... If you want to make yourself happy, make someone else happy.
Live to give. Make other people smile and feel good and help make other people grow and improve, and you can't help but feel good. It's win-win.
If you make a zombie feel good, it's win-lose. Or win-munch munch munch mmmmmm, tasty brains.
Don't do that.
DO have an awesome week!
This is not ideal.
Also, if we hang out with non-zombie-type people, we still want to hang out with like-minded people. This is because if we hang out with people who are only looking out for themselves, when the zombies attack, those suckers be pushing you out front like an entree, main and dessert!
The problem then becomes, if you know that they are going to try and push you to the zombies so that they can survive, you start thinking the same way! If you want to survive, you gotta push someone else first, and now you're acting like them and that's bad!
You want to hang out with people that support and inspire and uplift you. You want to hang out with people who make you feel amazing, and make you happy. You want to hang yout with people that won't try and eat your face off or try to give you to someone who will eat your face off. Even in non-apocalyptic times this is important!
For me, as soon as I am in a room with authors or illustrators, I know that I have found my tribe. I know they are people I want to hang around with. I went to a conference the other week, with a few hundred authors and illustrators and publishers, and it was SOOOO amazing. Just creative people wanting to learn and get better and who were super excited about doing something they totally lvoe doing. It gets me buzzing and excited and I always feel like writing something when I leave a group like that.
I have other people too, other amazing people that I love dearly who aren't necessarily authors or illustrators, but who have this energy that lifts me up and makes me feel amazing, and who, after I spend time with them, I leave feeling lighter and happier than before I caught up with them.
These are the people you want to hang out with.
These are the people that are going to make you want to be a better person.
There's a theory that you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So you have a choice to make. Do you want to hang out with people who are negative or who drag you down or who make you feel less than you could be or who want to eat you, or do you want to hang around with people who lift you up and make you feel Both amazing and inspired.
It seems like a pretty easy choice - it isn't always an easy thing to carry out, but it has to be done. For you to fully be the most amazing person you can be, your tribe is important, and you need to be abl;e to ease out the people who are dragging you down. Don't cut them off necessarily, just spend less time with them.
And spend more time with the awesome, amazing, legendary, champion people. They're the good ones.
See, zombies hate water. So it's weird that just keep swimming could apply to them. But it does. Because just keep swimming means just keep going, just keep searching, don't dwell on what's happened, don't be resentful, just keep swimming and you will find what you're looking for.
It may not be in the place you expect it to be, but you'll find it still.
Zombies "just keep swimming" when they never give up if they're trying to suck on someone's brain and that someone is trying to chop the zombie's head off with a butter knife. BUt zombies also "just keep swimming" when they finish one brain snack, or miss out on one brain snack, and they search again. They want more, always looking to be more, improve, develop.
This is something we can totally learn from. When we go after something that is really attractive to us, something that we believe will make us better people, bring us incredible joy, we gotta just keep swimming, just keep working at ways to get that thing. And if one way doesn't work, well, maybe you gotta swim in another direction. Maybe you gotta swim against the current sometimes, really pushing hard, working hard, maybe you have to go around even when what you want is right in front of you, so close you can almost touch it, taste it, but that current keeps pushing back at you.
Find a way.
And if it turns out that you just keep swimming, and just keep swimming, but you don't reach your goal, or if you reach it and it doesn't give you what you expect ... don't be resentful. You're allowed to be upset, of course, that's natural, but then you have to look at the wonderful things you had or the wonderful things you learned or the wonderful memories, and use those, take them with you, and just keep swimming.
Because there are more wonderful things up ahead, or off to the side, and you'll find them if you just keep swimming ... or, if you're a zombie, just keep shuffling ... or, if you're a non-brain-dead human, just keep trying and searching and learning and growing and loving.
It's the only way.
The reason I am excited is because it's a public holiday ... no, that's not it either. I'm a writer. Every day is a public holiday! This is awesome because I am able to hang out with awesome people and have coffees and lunches and play golf after I have done my writing for the day.
No, I am actually excited because my new book, How to Catch the Easter Bunny is out and doing really well! I am excited about that, but that's not really it. The main reason I am excited is because I have just scored myself a new tattoo ... it is a saying ... Be water, my friend. This is a saying by Bruce Lee, who, after zombies, is my ultimate hero and inspiration.
So this saying is really important to me. Last week the very cool Miss M wrote about going with the flow, and she even mentioned this quote. Being like water is very important in a zombie apcalypse. You have to be able to adapt to your surroundings. You have to be able to change plans and use what is happening to your advantage. You have to dive into a river because zombies don't like water so you will be safe for a while ... as long as you can swim ... and there are no sharks ... or whirpools ... or jellyfish ... or scuba divers that are mean.
Being like water means knowing when to attack and when to hold back, when to flow, and when to crash, but it also means you have to keep moving. If water doesn't move it becomes stinky and gross. If you don't move in a zombie apocalypse, you also become stinky and gross ... because the zombies will eventually find you and bite you and then you will be a zombie and they are stinky and gross! If you don't move in life, if you don't grow and change and learn and improve, if you just stay the same, the world passes you by. You lose time. You become stale and stagnant and left behind.
So always look at ways you can keep moving, learning, growing, adapting, being like water.
And drink at least a litre of water a day too. That's important. Just make sure it isn't the stinky gross water. That tastes pretty bad and probably has frogs in it.
Okay, that's it for this week!
Be water, stay awesome, have an amazing Easter, and stay safe!
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