The Great Life Experiment

by Mhairi Simpson on August 23, 2014

This is where I find out how good I can really be.

My head is all mushed about at the moment. Not exactly confused, because I’m very clear on a number of things, like the fact that I love helping people, and the fact that whenever I really put myself out for someone, it’s completely not appreciated. But also the fact that I like writing for other people and the fact that I like writing for myself. Trying to find some middle ground between these things is what has me feeling all over the place.

It makes it hard to figure out where my priorities should lie. The best I can come up with at the moment is that I should do what makes me happy. This is different from doing what assuages any feelings of guilt over things I can’t control. I’m allowed to live in my own home and eat what I want and work how and when I like. It’s hard, sometimes, seeing friends struggling with jobs and homes and family lives, to believe that I’m allowed to be happy. That I’m allowed to be productive. That I’m allowed to be successful. They have it so hard, so many of them. Why should I even aspire to be happy?

I have held myself back many times in my life. Most recently in August 2011, when this blog garnered almost 3k hits in one month. I promptly had a crisis of self-confidence, for pretty much no reason at all, and let it all trail away to nothing. Deep down I thought, who am I to have such a popular blog only six months after starting it? I’m no one!

This is where the life experiment comes in – can I achieve success? Can I reach through my barriers to grasp the things that really make me happy? Can I change the story I’m telling myself every day that I’m not this or that enough to deserve it?

It all comes down to stories. When we change the stories we tell ourselves, or even just tell them differently, we change how we see the world and that is what I need to do. Or maybe I just need to change how I see myself. That would be a story worth telling, even if I’m the only person who ever hears it.


Day 4: the first wall and having no limits

by Mhairi Simpson on August 22, 2014

So, we have hit the first wall – specifically that I have completely run out of money. I’m actually okay with it because I would be in this position even if I were still employed. Running out of money in the middle of the month is, I’m sure, nothing new to many people.

It may seem counter-intuitive to go from too little money to even less money but the Universe kind of threw me into that one – the job was going anyway since I wasn’t able to work after the accident. So here I am, living the dream and already over my overdraft limit.

And like I said, I’m okay with that. It’s temporary – these things always are. I have creative endeavours to be getting on with and focussing on those is like a balm, it really is. Not because it’s like taking a break, though. I’m pushing myself harder now than ever before and not because I know I need to start earning a living. And that’s what’s so great about this whole situation.

Be A Bard won’t be earning for a while. There’s a load of playtesting which has to happen before anything else. But right now, it’s stretching me. And I’m letting it.

You see, I did all the easy images first. There are something like forty-five different images in the deck, many of them things I thought would look cool (ie, batshit insane) and most of them I have never drawn before. So I actually have no clue how to draw most of these things and have had to make liberal use of Google in search of references.

But the biggest thing I’ve had to do is not give up. Four or five times now, I’ve wanted to give up because I just don’t know how to do this stuff! This project really is beyond me – I have a modicum of artistic ability but very little experience and suddenly I’m expecting to be able to draw, well, anything, really. The first time, I did give up. I decided to just leave it because I simply wasn’t at the level I needed to be at yet. Better to leave it for when I’m better, I thought. I’ll be able to do it justice then.

Anyone who knows me can hazard a guess at how long that lasted. I think it was a couple of hours before I picked up the pad and thought, well, just try. Just freaking try.

So I tried.

And I did.

And now I have seventy-six images drawn. Well, technically I have eighty but four are still in the sketch stage.

This project has been the best thing that ever happened to me because it’s forcing me to push myself, to ignore what I think I can do and just keep pushing forward. I’m not saying it’s the best art in the world but it’s certainly the best art I’ve ever done and the project itself is huge – a deck of a hundred and five cards which is also a game and I need to sort playtesting (I actually do have a vague plan for this – surprisingly enough it involves a bar), then get the money together for a print run (don’t even ask) and then somehow I have to figure out distribution, with zero contacts or indeed any idea whatsoever about how these things work.

And yet, I don’t care. Because right now I’m getting something huge out of this project – I’m getting the knowledge that my limits are where I put them. Do you know how enormous that is? To know that the only thing holding me back is me, specifically my beliefs about what I’m capable of? At this moment in time, I have nothing to lose by pushing forward and I would never have believed how far I’ve been able to go.

If it took coming off my bike and losing my job to allow me to get to this point in my life, then I am incredibly grateful for that. It seems a tad extreme, I will admit, but if that’s what it takes, so be it.

And if that’s the only thing I take away from this phase in my life, I will still be forever changed and I can’t help but be happy with that.


Taking the big leap. And BADASS UNICORNS.

August 19, 2014

There are times in your life when you have plenty to say but none of it is really appropriate for public consumption. Let’s just say the last few months have been rather stressful and leave it at that. I am now self-employed (not quite officially yet – I still need to register for taxes) and […]

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Peace and fear and the fine line between

July 11, 2014

I am curiously at peace this morning. The paintings still look as I remembered them, even in daylight. I have filled in a form which will bring me several hundred (very well-timed) pounds. The new banner also still looks gorgeous. I feel very proud of yesterday’s creative achievements, even though there was no writing. I […]

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Rejoining the community at ROW80

July 9, 2014

I’m actually a sponsor for this round. If you haven’t heard of ROW80, it stands for A Round Of Words In Eighty Days and you can find out more about it here. You can also join the fun whenever you like, just jump in Right! Here are my goals for this round: – to get […]

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What’s so good about you?

July 7, 2014

The little voice inside says, “Seriously? You want to help people? You? You can’t help yourself out of a wet paper bag! What’s so good about you? Who are you??” So I sit, miserable, staring at my computer screen and wishing would just kill the little voice or take me away from it forever. Like […]

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The knight’s daughter

July 6, 2014

Minnie stands on the balcony, cool night air caressing her face, tilted towards the stars. Her eyes are closed but she does not need them to feel the grandeur of light wheeling so far above and yet so near. She has always felt closer to the stars than to the world she walks. She learnt […]

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The voice murmurs evil

July 3, 2014

The voice is back. Maybe it never went away. It tells me I am nothing and no one. More specifically it sneers at my dreams. “Who do you think you are?” Its lip curls. “Why would you be able to change the world?” It tells me I’m weird and a freak and no one will like […]

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The dragon’s tale

July 1, 2014

Dragons dance, silver in the moonlight, love and wisdom and delicate fire lighting their way. The way to another world. Here it is drawn in colder lines, harsher colours and ruder scents. The world of men is not for dragons. And yet… There is a challenge, a tale, a weaving of words and meaning older […]

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You know what this world is?

June 10, 2014

It’s AMAZING. And TERRIFYING. And HIDDEN. But OVERWHELMING. And because of all those things, we like to hide away from it. In our little, limited, familiar bubble, there is nothing unknown. We can handle what we find there because it’s normal. Expected. VISIBLE. Of course, it can also be terrifying but one is better than […]

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