The end of the beginning

This isn’t really the end. I’m still writing everyday, still aiming to get this draft of my novel done by the end of July.

I started this weekly blog back in August 2016, right at the beginning of the school year. As I switched from teaching to writing full time, I wanted to keep myself accountable in terms of productivity and time management. I also thought it would be interesting to document my new career as I muddled through this first year. (Can I call it a career if I really don’t make any money?) All year, I’ve slowly adjusted to working from home. I’ve learned to tolerate solitude and fine-tuned routines to keep me focused and creative.

Every Friday, all year long, I’ve written a blog post to record the week’s progress (or lack thereof). I’ve charted my ups and downs, from publication (woohoo!) to rejection (far more common, sadly).

Now the end of the school year is in sight. All my teacher friends are cleaning up their classrooms and marking final exams, while my own kids are finishing grades 4 and 8 and coming home for the summer holidays.

I’ve spent this blog writing about writing, and now I’m going even more meta and writing about blogging about writing (Inception! As my daughter would say).

Although this year has gone by incredibly fast, I really feel like a writer now. I’ve nearly finished this draft of my novel, and I’ve also completed several more short stories. I’ve gradually gained confidence and patience with my writing process. I am deeply satisfied with this shift to writing full-time, so much so that I’ve decided my teaching days are officially behind me. (unless I end up teaching writing workshops at some point!)

I am an introspective person by nature, so I’ve enjoyed using this blog to analyze my time and my development as a writer. That being said, I’m not going to keep posting every Friday; just when I’ve got news or something interesting to share.

This post marks only the end of this academic year; the end of the beginning of my writing career.

Multitasking

I’ve spent this week juggling projects.

As always, I’m plugging away at my novel. Scene by scene, I am advancing through my outline, with The End slowly becoming discernible, way out in the distance. I’ve reached a highly dramatic section of the book, featuring a main character’s drug overdose and subsequent hospitalization. Rather than take the time to research medical details, I am making things up as I go merrily along. This is very freeing, and I figure I can always check with the experts if I keep these scenes in my next draft!

Another priority this week has been finishing a short story to submit to an upcoming contest in a literary journal. This has involved revamping the plot, adding a new ending,  developing the characters and polishing the language. It’s a fairly dark, satirical little tale, so it’s been lots of fun to write. I am going to find some time this weekend to work through feedback from a couple of writer friends, then I can send it off on Monday. I also need to come up with a better title before I submit this story!

Finally, as if two simultaneous projects weren’t enough, I’ve started a brand new short story. It’s my turn to submit a piece to be critiqued by my monthly writers’ group, so I’m trying to finish a decent draft for next week. This will be my first story with a male protagonist, which is also kind of fun.

Overall, I’m happy with my progress on all three projects. It has helped that they’re in three completely different stages of the writing process: drafting something new, writing from an outline and editing/revision. Considering that I’m also house-training a puppy, I think I’ll call this week a success!

Dog tired

The good news is that Samson is the cutest puppy ever. He’s smart and affectionate and hilarious. Our family loves him and I’m sure he’ll grow up to be a great dog.

The bad news is that I’m sleep-deprived and cranky. My work schedule is shattered and my productivity has tanked.

I’ve been through worse, of course; I have twins! I know this is temporary. It’ll get better once Samson is housetrained and sleeping through the night. At the moment, though, I’m mired in frustration. All my carefully-established routines are out the window.

I’m trying to stay positive. I am getting some writing done everyday, so the novel is moving forward. I’ve been revising a short story for an upcoming contest. I also got an incredibly positive rejection letter for one of my older stories; the editor gave me specific feedback on the piece, signing off: “Best of luck with your writing, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble publishing your work elsewhere.”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that I need to be more flexible. I need to accept that all my writing schedules and outlines and goals represent an idealized version of my time, an attempt to structure my inherently unpredictable, messy life.

For years, I kept this quote above my desk, and maybe it’s time to print it out again:

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.”

E.B. White