Unusually for me, I am typing this riddled with anxiety, brought on by the disconcerting feeling of not finishing first.
As Adrian states in his ‘His’ blog, this morning I sought him out, and with my sweetest of smiles, I gently reminded him of our intention to write a ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ 2020 reflective blog for the Hobeck website. I was conscious that if we left it too late after 1 January, it wouldn’t make sense. I had decided that we had to do it today and I had decided to give him a nudge.
If I am honest, I thought the reaction would be a retort of ‘I will do it’, and then he would get distracted by random other things for a few hours. I knew he would keep to his promise and write his blog today, but I assumed that by the time he sat down to do it, I would have written mine. That is often the way with the two of us. I do my bit, throw it at him for him to do his, whether it be check a cover brief, rejig my blurb or look over a publishing proposal. In this case, as always, I was sure he would write the blog today, but I didn’t think it would come quickly. Against my expectations, more-or-less as soon as I had closed my mouth, he went straight to his laptop and starting feverishly typing. Within the hour, the blog had been written.
Now he has finished and his blog is live, I am in the uncomfortable position of having to write mine quickly enough to make it still relevant. I don’t like this feeling, as I am normally the driver of our deadlines, not the one being driven. This does not feel nice. I actually feel quite odd.
If 2020 has taught me anything is that being made to feel odd, and being out of your comfort zone, is no bad thing. In fact, it can be very energising and eventually reap good results. Starting Hobeck with Adrian forced me out of my comfort zone. He rightly remembers that at the start it was a case of him trying to get me out of my freelance head space and to think about Hobeck. I admit freely now that I would frequently fob him off. I hid behind excuses of ‘but this work pays the bills’ and ‘but I’ve made a promise to do this’. That was my form of procrastination. It is human nature to hide from things that terrify us. We just all do it in different ways. I hide in a whirl of business. Adrian hides in a whirl of distractions. Who would want to try to stroke a lion? We all have our own version of the cave.
I was very frightened of Hobeck at the start. It took me a while to come around. Adrian was able to coax me out of my safe place with his energy, enthusiasm and passionate desire to make a difference. He reassured me that I could do this. He had confidence in me. His determination was very attractive and rather addictive. And it worked. When we signed our first author, Robert Daws, we had to grab the proverbial bull by the horns and run with it. We plunged in together. Then, just as things were hotting up and our first publication date loomed, Adrian’s health deteriorated, and his ability to work became sporadic at best but I had to keep running. I confess that that was a scary time. I did it, though, because I had no choice. I owed it to myself, the family, to Adrian and most of all to our first author to face the fear. I faced it.
Now, six months later, and my confidence has grown exponentially. Work feels like play. Hobeck feels like play. I wake up eager to get to it and I rarely leave the bed without some social media engagement. I go to bed and the last thing I do before I sleep is tweet about one of our forthcoming books, or a competition, or what the Hobeck cat is up to.
Even though Adrian and my working patterns are so very different we have found a very effective methodology which works for us. Adrian is like a box of bangers, bursting sporadically whenever fire strikes, but with silence between each explosion. I am more like a Catherine wheel – turning round and round, giving off a consistent light and energy. It works for us. I would be lying to you if I said we never had a cross word with each other. We do. We do get frustrated with each other’s working styles sometimes. It would be odd if we didn’t. I was reassured recently, by the words of one of my favourite modern thinkers, Alain de Botton, who said that fragile relationships are those that equate happiness with conflict-free unions. Bullshit, he says to that. You need a certain amount of friction in order to go forward. I firmly believe so. Adrian and I complement each other but we also push each other to challenge our own ways of working and ways of thinking. I like that. I need someone to say ‘I think you are wrong’ sometimes and, yes, he needs that too.
I look back on 2020 as a year I was forced out of comfort by one of the bravest people I know. He encouraged me to approach the lion. I look now to 2021 as the year I hope I will willingly stroke the lion.
So I say to 2021: ‘Here, kitty kitty. Not you, Hobeck Cat!’