This, our fourth blog, I'm thinking about decisions, decisions, decisions. It feels like most of what we do is make decisions. It's almost like a daily decision to keep going. To do that next thing on the list, to commit to the next bit of work, the next deadline, the next avenue we have chosen to explore.
Our working styles, Abigail's and mine, are both similar and different. Similar in that, I feel, we both work hard and push ourselves. We are possibly our own worst critics and strive to do the best we can at all-times. Our business core values were thought about early in the piece, which has made it much easier to go forth with confidence that we are pushing towards a common goal.
But we are also very different. Abigail is a bit more cautious than I am, which I'm thankful for! I am sometimes willing to look stupid just to get something started, not just in work situations but also in life. If, and I'm not just talking about our project, if there is no obvious start point, I'll just throw a piece of spaghetti at the window and see if it sticks. It might fall off entirely (uncooked / bad idea). It might slowly crawl down the window like a worm leaving a nice steamy mark as it does so (not quite cooked and not a great idea, but a starting point). It might stick, radiating a satisfying condensation (a fully cooked, ready to roll humdinger). I don't mind which it is, it's just a matter of deciding which it is.
Abigail might come back and frankly say 'no, I don’t' think so... but what about this' and vice versa. In a sense we are both vulnerable to the other, I might write some text and send it to Abigail who'll come back with feedback, additions, edits. She might send an illustration and ask for feedback, changes, and thoughts. We've probably rubbed each other up the wrong way at some point or other, although I can't think of any specific events. Maybe we could think of a strategy to deal with that if we do?
Without a formal 'main frame' or traditional working environment we are both responsible for respecting each other, acknowledging mistakes, learning from them, working together towards a common aim. We encourage and support each other, and push forward.
Sometimes we have a sick child. A relative or friend in need, work from another project or some other commitment. We do our best to meet the deadlines we set for ourselves and have goals we plan on reaching but we are realistic about what's achievable or malleable when it comes to when things get done. We have to be. We live in separate countries; our communications are primarily email and Skype.
We both have different strengths and weaknesses. Many moons ago in a corporate job I was put through Myers Briggs system, which is based on Carl Jung's research about our psychological functions, Check out http://www.my-personality-test.com/personality-type/). I was found to be an I N F J - Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. Abigail, do you know where you are on the scale? I'd be interested to know!
Regardless of that I know we work together well. The longevity and perseverance of our working relationship and also friendship is proof of that. Long may it live!
Tracey and I are so similar in some ways. I love and appreciate her openness and honesty. I chuckled at Tracey’s last blog post where she confessed to watching ‘Suits’ whilst working – how dare she? I love a bit of ABC iView on my laptop whilst digitally inking Dreamer, Diddy and friends. And I recently recapped on the last 4 seasons of Game of Thrones! BTW Tracey, I did your Myers Briggs test and apparently I’m an ESFP - Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving – make of that what you will!
When I think about ‘working styles’ at the core is my space where all the work gets done. I have a small box-room home office at the back of my house. This is where Dream Wonderland was conceived and the album written, performed, produced and edited. Surrounded by my music keyboard and speakers, I create all my work via a trusty iMac, MacBook Pro and Wacom tablet.
The office is a mess. I am at heart, I admit, a messy person; something I try to counter with waves of obsessive tidying once a month or so, although my husband swears this is at best yearly – how dare he! But I like to think it’s an ‘organised’ mess. I wonder, Tracey – are you an ‘ordered’ messy person like me?
This little creative space is also where I’ve recently been working on our new Dream Wonderland eBook, drafting the text back and forth between New Zealand and Australia, and where I frequently Skype with Tracey. Fortunately for her, she only sees the view of the back of the room, which is relatively tidy. Between the three devices I’m typing, drawing, editing and transcribing, and it’s the to-ing and fro-ing between the gadgets that’s causing my neck, back, shoulder and elbow to ache. I guess this is what happens when you get older!
I don’t know how it happens, but when I’m in this little room I enter a time warp. I remember seeing an Oprah show years ago whilst on the sofa breastfeeding one of my two as babies – Oprah was always on for the lunchtime feed. It was about finding your ‘passion’ and getting a job in that area, and when you’re working at that passion, time ceases to exist. Writing music was always my passion, and when I’m in the creating ‘zone’ hours can fly by without me realizing. And this is how I am with my newfound passion for illustrating. I’m really enjoying this different creative process and am equally immersed in it when I’m on task. It’s just playing havoc with my body!
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a stickler for detail. Illustrating for this first book has been interesting though, because I have to let go of that a bit. With time restraints I need to move faster than I would ultimately like. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes you’ve just got to get it done; otherwise it’s never finished.
Tracey is good for me in this regard. She moves so fast, I can barely keep up – as she has said, her spontaneity balances my cautiousness. She is the Yin to my Yan and collaborating so closely with Tracey has certainly changed my own working style. And changes can be good – David Bowie says so! Similarly, entering a business relationship with Tracey is also proving to be equally auspicious and creatively stimulating.
Response from Tracey:
PS I don’t always sit in front of the TV with Suits on in the background, although that would be nice wouldn’t it! Definitely not while I’m writing. I have to have a clear desk, just my mac, my wireless keyboard and mouse and my brain. The room has to be clean or else I don’t feel comfortable to work creatively. When I’m doing paperworky type stuff I like to have something else on in the background but I also like to be warm! So if I’m working at night I’m in the living room with a fire going, a hot water bottle, a blanket, a cup of tea and my breakfast tray with my iPad and keyboard. Voila.
Also I’m not surprised to find that our respective Myers Briggs personality types INFJ and ESFP compliment in a lot of ways.
I know we are not married! But it does give some insight into how we work together.