The Dream Job

Along with everyone else in the world, 2016 didn’t exactly turn out the way I’d hoped. I hate to be a person who is wishing time away, but I’ll be more than happy to greet 2017, and hope it turns out to be less of an asshole than this year.

This was going to be the year I published my second novel. In fact, at the beginning of last year I was well on my way, hitting the same word count and pace I’d seen for my first novel. I had dedicated writing hours a few mornings a week and I was committed to them, and by the spring my first draft was finished and I expected to be publishing my book sometime in the late summer, early fall.

Well, revisions ended up getting me stuck, because I was having trouble finding the true voice of the story. And then we bought a house, renovated that house, and moved. And nothing will destroy your creativity like the stress of moving. And, as I’ve said before, summer tends to be my creative wasteland anyway.

But nothing changed in the fall. At least, not around the writing. Some family and life things hit at the end of the summer, and my schedule and routine have been upended. And instead of figuring out how to make it work, I let the book collect dust.

Some of that is because I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to self-publish this time around. I bounced some ideas around with friends about editing and book covers, but nothing ever felt right, and in fact, it began to feel like I was pressing on something that needed to wait. And when I start to get that feeling, I know I need to step back and breathe for a moment. My implusive nature has landed me in trouble countless times, and at 34, I’m finally beginning to respect the signs.

It’s been a weird year. I’ve looked for jobs, I’ve dreamed about building my editing business into full-time work, thought about trying to break into freelance writing, I’m considering taking some courses. I’ve thought about walking away from writing, because maybe it’s not for me, and then a few weeks later wondered what financial magic I would need to perform to enable me to be home full-time so I could write. And came back again, because for whatever reason, I really believe that I am in the right place for me and my family right now. It doesn’t mean I’m not frustrated or restless, but it’s not time for big changes. I feel that in my gut.

So what now? Because I need my life to be about more than parenting and house responsibilities. I need something to do that excites me, that energizes me. And I’ve always known that thing is writing.

And as I started another day, same as all the others for the past few months, with a baby demanding my attention, and a cluttered house in need of tidying, I realized that my life isn’t going to get any less busy anytime soon. Flipping the calendar from December to January isn’t going to magically make my life easier to manage.

So I decided that if I want writing to be my dream job, then it’s time to make it happen. Not by up and quitting things or anything quite so dramatic, but by doing the small, quiet, boring things. I’m going to carve out time and protect it. And right now, it won’t be during my happy early-mid morning hours. Those aren’t times I have available to me, not for the next few months anyway. So it’ll be evenings and weekends, and maybe some early mornings before everyone else is awake. And it’s going to be tackling the revisions in this novel, even though they overwhelm me. And sticking with a story even when it’s not easy because it’s the story I was given, and the story I need to tell.

I’ll make writing my work by doing the work, instead of waiting for hours to open up, for inspiration to fall from the sky, for revisions to suddenly become crystal clear and easy.

And… *whispering* I’m going to query this book. It’s the thought, the nudge, that won’t leave me alone. When I wrote Remember Us, everything for self-publishing snapped into place. It was right. This time, though, it’s not working. And I know it’s for a reason. I don’t think that it’s necessarily because there’s a publisher dying for my book, or an agent who will be desperate to sign me, but I think it’s because I need to try. Because for so much of my life I have shied away from the kind of work that requires me to be judged and critiqued. I don’t want to find out I’m no good, or that my story is terrible. The idea of hundreds of rejections piling up does not fill me with glee.

But I think I have to do it. So I will. If for no other reason than because I know that this might just be a step along the way to self-publishing my book anyway, and I do want to see it out in the world. Also so that I get to working on another one!

Whew. That was a lot for one post. I guess I’ve had a lot on my mind the last few months, even if I haven’t been writing it all down.

2017 is going to be the year of work. Doing the work, trusting the work, believing in the work. Believing that the work of writing is valuable and necessary, and that maybe now more than ever, story is what we need.

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