When I have a minute, I will correct these time stamps, but know that they are currently 39 sec behind, as I did not account for the intro music. Sorry!
00:03 Okay. For April, I decided that I wanted to talk about my own expectations for myself, and how fair or unfair those might be, but also how life changes and I can’t always, I can’t always do the same thing with the same amount of focus?
00:32 It’s not the right word. I’m not sure what the word I’m looking for is. Anyway, what I’m here to talk about is how, in March, I planned to, to enact a triumphant repeat of November 2016. In November 2016, if you’re not aware, I drafted 88,000 words of the first draft of Salvage, which is the sequel to my book, Flotsam. So, in 2016, I had finished working on Flotsam. As far as I knew, Flotsam was done and was going to be released maybe in January, who knows? Maybe December. I had lots of thoughts. This was going to be self-published.
01:24 In November, I had cleared the deck. I had no other projects on my plate, and I was going to write Salvage. And I was also for the first time my region’s municipal liaison for National Novel Writing Month, which is NaNoWriMo, colloquially. So I was very nervous. I remember ahead of November of 2016 that being the ML for my region was going to prevent me from being able to focus on my draft, and finish it in time. I knew that the draft needed to be longer than 50,000 words in order to create the entire book. I knew from working on Flotsam that a first draft for me is not as long as the final draft. However, the first draft for me was going to be longer than 50,000 words to get the whole story in. So, I was nervous that all this planning and having to be an ML and maybe having to handle people’s issues and other things, it was going to take away from my ability to focus on my book. That it was going to be a distraction.
02:38 I don’t know if then I overcompensated—It’s very possible. I tend to do that—or over-planned, but the thing about NaNoWriMo is it’s a month-long event and, typically, September and October, and this has been the pattern ever since, are spent planning where the write-ins are going to be; reaching out and talking to the libraries; reserving the spaces; posting the schedule for everyone to see; answering questions about the schedule. “Oh, why’d you have to have it in that coffee shop? They were mean to me once.” Things like that.
03:18 So, as it happened, November 2016, I went into NaNoWriMo, and all the work was already done. So all I had to do was drive to the write-ins, which were, for the most part, kind of far away. But they were concentrated write-in time. If there were enough people, I would lead the word sprints. And so things went very, very well. And because I had so much of this concentrated write-in time outside of the home, I don’t know, I was, I was already in the habit that year of getting up every morning at five and writing before work. So, I don’t think that I wouldn’t have concentrated well on it, but there’s definitely something to be said for changing your environment, sitting down in a different spot at a different table and having, you know, quiet focused time to write. So either way, the happy tale is that in 25 days, not 30, I wrote 88,000 words of the first draft of Salvage, and I was quite proud of myself. I’m still proud of myself. So, there’ve been a lot of attempts since then to repeat that success. However, my confidence in having done it once— Again. Did I overcompensate, was I overconfident, or did life just change so much that extenuating circumstances, you know: all the pieces were not in place in the subsequent attempts.
04:53 So I have attempted this several times, but as I went through the process of getting Flotsam ready for printing, once I submitted it department Parvus Press, by May of 2017, I had a contract for three books and we were working on getting Flotsam ready for— Well, first it was going to be January of 2018. It ended up getting pushed back to March.
05:28 Which was already a push back from when I was expecting to release it in August of 2017. That was my original plan, but obviously with going under contract, I was at the mercy of Parvus’s calendar and catalog. And that’s just… Even a small and nimble company like Parvus still has to take into account their catalog and spread the work out and have everything they need, including the time to get something produced. So, be that as it may, Salvage was already written when I signed the contract with Parvus. So again, Salvage was written when I have nothing else to worry about except a day job. I don’t even think I had really any extracurricular freelance projects going on at any of those points. At that time, I don’t think I was really encouraging people to give me all that much extra work.
06:27 I might have done some stuff, at that point, for the company that is now my day job, but it would have been very like, “Oh, can you do this? Yeah, sure.” And I do it in a weekend and then I’m done. And because I was, and like I said, I don’t even know that I had any of this actively going on, but if I did, I had so much work getting done in the write-ins that I didn’t need anything more than my usual morning writing time before work to keep the pace up on Salvage at the time. So my next attempt to write a book in a month, I suspect there were a few misfires that I just didn’t prep for, and that I sort of abandoned before I started, for Camp NaNoWriMo in 2017. I suspect that in 2017 November, no, I recall. I planned a whole bunch of short fiction.
07:24 So that was my plan, to write some side stories from my mailing list; to, I think I started some of the essays for my launch: blog appearances, guest posts. And so November of 2017 was a strange NaNoWriMo for me because I was working on multiple things and it was very different because some of those were nonfiction things. And as it turns out, I’m awful at writing essays that are not plots. Even though essays should have a plot. I just like… My brain never made that connection. So that NaNoWriMo in 2017 was difficult. I got a bunch of stuff done, but, you know, not whatever I’d planned, not the full extent of what I’d planned. I had a list of like 12 things I think, and I maybe got through less than 10, but still a significant number of things.
08:14 Aside from the blog posts that went out with Flotsam‘s launch, I don’t think any of the, the short fiction that I worked on that month has seen the light of day yet. So my next attempt to write, to actually sit down and write a novel like with preparation and getting everything done ahead of time, was supposed to be 2018’s NaNoWriMo, this past one. And I went in with the intent that I could repeat drafting the entire thing of book three in my Peridot Shift in the single month. And I had changed jobs. So in theory, in theory, I had all the time in the world to arrange my schedule and I could be flexible and I could go to write-ins whenever and I could concentrate on my day job, work over here, and maybe work a little bit harder during the day and truncate my workdays, which actually was the opposite of what happened.
09:23 The harder I worked, the longer I worked and the more behind I felt. So this did not help in October as I was— October was the first month of this transition and, as I was trying to adjust to the schedule, and had not yet learned the valuable lesson of setting boundaries and stopping my workday at a certain hour, just like I would if I worked in an office and not trying to always be available for that job. This lesson did not happen I think until December, maybe. It might’ve been the November month that taught me this. I don’t remember exactly, but it was a valuable lesson and it was hard won. So I went through November or I went through October trying to plan, get everything done ahead of November, and get my outline ready for Cast Off because I opened up my outline and realize there’s a lot less outline here than I expected.
10:25 So I knew that it needed some work. This was book three in my trilogy, my debut trilogy, and I knew that it was very important to stick the landing. So, halfway through October I’m like, “Ooh, I really need to get going on this outline.” And just about the same time I got some feedback from Parvus, and I became aware that I was going to have to finish Salvage‘s revision. I believe I got the revision notes just before I went on vacation between the two jobs that I was transitioning between. That was the end of September, and then we got home a few days into October. And so there’s no way I got two rounds of revisions in there somewhere. So I was, I was working with a new editor for the first time, and I had these revisions and as I was working with the editor, I ended up rewriting about 40% of the book, you know, wholesale almost.
11:36 So I was not done, and I did not finish. I was hoping to finish by mid-October and get my ducks in a row for writing Cast Off. And instead I was still working on this rewrite straight into November and the deadline I was given was middle of, which was about November 18th. Basically, I wanted to be done at that point. So yeah, 2018’s NaNoWriMo was completely thrown off from the get go. So I said, “All right, I will obviously have to take a month and write it,” and for some reason it was always going to happen in a month, in my mind. So I said to myself, “All right, relax yourself. You’re obviously not going to work on this and get it done in November.” And once I accepted that, which probably took until about November 16th, honestly. Once I accepted that I was able to relax and I think I worked on another project for the rest of the month.
12:38 I might’ve written a short story and tried to edit it or something. So welcome to 2019. There has been, at this point, another round of revisions on Salvage, which I handed in by January 1st, I think. I’m pretty sure. And so I was planning with a friend to do a MarNoWriMo. You know, March Novel Writing Month, not national, obviously at this point it’s just a couple of us. I’m sure someone else in the world was doing it, but this is not an organized event. This is not an official Offices of Letters and Light event. So March Novel Writing Month was a thing. I got all my ducks in a row. I finished enough Patreon content. I wanted to be done with through the end of the year, but I at least got myself a lot of buffer time. I wouldn’t need a new episode written until the end of June and so I had an opportunity to focus on other things. Even though, as it was last year, I always intended to write the entire content for the year for Patreon and then have it ready to go and publish without me so that the content would be going up, and then, at some point later in the year, I would start to edit it and get it ready to publish as a collection in the following year. I’ll get to that in a minute, too.
14:12 So I had enough of that work done that I wouldn’t have to think about it while I was trying to write in March. I also spent the first two weeks of February focused on the Cast Off outline, and I mean really focused. I had a cork-board. I had little pieces of index card cut up, and I really planned this out.
14:39 I looked at the balance of how things were going to go. The outline was done for Cast Off. Like I went over it, I reviewed it, I put it aside, came back to it, made some changes, all this kind of stuff. And I was able to feel really secure and how I was going to go into March, getting started. In addition we, my husband and I, were traveling to visit family and not like vacation visit, but my husband was going to help my father-in-law redo their kitchen. So I was going along because in my new job capacity, I can just pick up and go whenever I want to, and so I planned to take advantage of the plane rides, to take advantage of my husband being very much occupied by helping my father-in-law. And so I thought I should have lots of extra writing time and this would be great.
15:40 It’s like a single person write-in, away from home. Then, of course, I was also going to work full-time. This wasn’t time I took off from work, so usual office hours just working out of my in-laws’ house and they set up a room for me, us, you know, as much as they could because the kitchen was disassembled. So there were boxes everywhere of all the things that were going to be installed in the new kitchen, when it was ready. But we managed to find some space for me. I ordered a small, standing workstation for my laptop so that I could, you know, be as comfortable as possible without being at my normal setup, which is double monitor, Ergonomic everything, you know, stuff like that. So, I had all my podcast episodes prerecorded, not for the entire month, but at least for while I was on the trip, and I had an interview scheduled for when I got back.
16:35 I was super organized going into this month. The only minor distraction that I foresaw was that I also was trying to reread through Salvage to give it, like, a straight read through. which I’d been doing since January. I was just having such trouble staying awake at night to read on my Kindle. So I went into March probably as prepared as I was capable of being for a non-official, you know, novel writing month. I had my friend’s support. We were doing it together so we were egging each other on and lots of encouragement there. Then what happened? I didn’t finish. It’s April 2nd and I do not have a finished draft of Cast Off. I have about 20,000 words. So not nothing, but it’s not done.
17:26 I did not achieve what I expected to achieve and let’s just be clear. What I expected to achieve was about 150,000 words because why not up the ante? Why not be more amazing? Because now I’m a published author. I should totally be able to do this. Now I’m super organized. Now I know. I have a great outline. This should be easy. Of course. That’s what I thought. So not only did I fail to meet my goal, I failed to meet a spectacular goal even after I then trimmed it, realizing, okay, that might not be really realistic. As I said, the first draft of Salvage was 88,000 words. When I turned in a revision at the end of January for Salvage, it was 174,000 words and change. So in my mind, take the word count I have and double it. So, from the drafts to the final version, what I thought was the final version, double it, and that’s a rough estimate of how much it will expand.
18:36 So knowing that Flotsam was 118, and knowing that Salvage was 175, and assuming that Cast Off would be like 225—just going by the Harry Potter thickness-of-the-sequel book law, if that’s a law. So 225 to me said, okay, the first draft should be, and, really, I didn’t use the straight math—I used percentages as if that’s not straight math, but it gave me an even higher word count than that, going by the proportion of book two to book one and then applying that to my current word count of book two. I basically thought I had to write 150,000 words to have an expandable draft that would reach this expectation that I thought I was setting for the reader. So 150,000 words meant almost, I think it was almost 6,000 words a day, might have been even more ’cause I’ve lost track of which goal I ended up with.
19:41 Which I failed to meet on the first day and then I failed to meet it on the second day, and I failed to meet it on the third day. And this was that weekend where I was traveling. I had time on the plane, I had some time in airports. I had nothing in particular to do. My husband that first day was, you know, helping my father-in-law with the tear down of the kitchen. So right away, I like, I had a whole solid day that I could work on this, and for a solid day, my expectation was I could hit, like I can hit 15,000 words and I can catch up on one day, but I hit like 3,700 words and that was the best day I had for another week and a half.
20:21 So very soon in the month I realized that I was going to be behind. I was still hoping to find some gust of energy within myself and catch up, or at the very least to finish a draft, whatever the word count, even if it was back to 88,000 words. Because here’s what I’ve started to realize at this point. yes, Salvage was 88,000 words written in 25 days, but Salvage had all also been rewritten quite a lot. So most of that original draft one disappeared, was rewritten, became the experimental fodder upon which a more permanent version was built. Then I’m back home March 9th I try to hit the ground running, but what I failed to already mention was that in Florida we got sick, my husband got the flu. I started to get something that wasn’t quite the flu, but it wasn’t great. Everyone else was sick.
21:30 While we— I mean different illnesses, too. My father-in-law had like a 24 hour virus and he was ill for, you know, a day and then he was okay again, if a little weakened and dehydrated. My mother-in-law got something, my husband got the flu. I, as I said, did not get, I did not test positive for the flu when I went to the doctor the next day, but because my husband had, they put me on Tamiflu anyway just in case. It took me— I recover faster because I’m very careful about the way I eat and I think my nutrition boosts my immune system. However, I was not sleeping well. The bed, the mattress in their guest room is very old and was not great for my back or my husband’s and we were just like rolling into the center of the mattress and very uncomfortable and I was not sleeping well, but for some reason I was also not getting up out of bed early.
22:26 You’d think like I’d be like, yes, get me out of this bed. But because we were in someone else’s home and I, I had to make noise to go through the plastic curtains to get to the garage, where the coffee pot was set up, I was less and less inclined every day to get up at my usual writing time. Before we went to Florida, at the end of February, I was back to waking up at 5:00 AM. By The time we got back from Florida, the next day was daylight savings time. So we were already sick. I’d broken this habit of getting up early and the daylight savings time took another hour away from me, and so by the middle of that next week, I was waking up at 7:30, by the clock. And it was so frustrating for me to accept that, “Hey, you were sick, you were stressed, you were traveling, you’re exhausted.”
23:13 And I was really beating myself up over it. And now I’m getting like 500 words a day, if I’m lucky because I’m also catching up on work because all those other reasons were also putting me a little bit behind in my work and the laptop that I brought with me to Florida to do my work on pretty much crapped out on me while we were there. So, it was a lot and I struggled with trying to catch up until about mid-March. And in mid-March, around the 16th, I started getting notes back from Parvus again on Salvage. Now mind you, Salvage comes out in September, and we are still making pretty hefty revisions to the beginning of Salvage.
24:03 Now I know that Parvus has every confidence in me, but I also started to fall apart in my confidence over my ability to write a compelling story, and I had a small crisis over that weekend as I was receiving edits. And then again the following weekend when I got more notes. So I got quick notes from the publisher. I got more extensive notes in track changes form from my editor at Parvus and it took me all weekend to sort of review them. I needed to be, you know, at a working computer and process these things, be able to see the track changes better than I could on the couch, like on a portable screen. And so it took me four or five days to even go through the changes, read them all, and then I gave myself a day or two to process. And at this point I’m still working on Cast Off during my writing time because I know better than to dive into Salvage revisions when I haven’t even had 24 hours to process what the revision requests are.
25:19 Then I started to go to myself or say to myself, “I really need to get into this because our timeline on this revision round is going to be super compressed.” I knew, I was told by Parvus that we needed to be done-done with the book on March 17th. I was told this in January, the last time I got revisions. So I got the revisions at the end, well the middle of February and I thought, “All right, cool. So this next round is going to be copy edits.”
25:49 So about the time that I was being told that I was originally told we needed to lock in the changes. I got revision requests like dealing with plot stuff and I mentally kind of fell apart. So, I continued to work on Cast Off just to be kind to myself. Thankfully none of these plot changes were really going to affect what was going on in Cast Off, and I was focusing on something else you may recall I was talking about sky shanties, and by focusing on those, I got myself very wrapped up in that. And I think that’s also part of why I failed to get very far each day in the word count for Cast Off. I failed to mention that because it’s not in my notes, but I just remembered that.
26:35 So now we’re more than halfway through March. I am more than halfway behind. And now I have a big of edits from Parvus and I said, “I’d better get on these,” and then I got another big pile of edits from the publisher, not the editor. And so, cue another anxiety attack. This one only lasted about a day and a half. I’d already given up on finishing Cast Off, but I also was fortunate that I had figured out the sky shanties. The sky shanties were solved. This was not like another moving piece that I was not sure what to do. The week before I got these major edits back from my publisher, I took myself to Starbucks one day at lunch, mostly to defend my writing time, like give me my concentrated hour lunch, sit down and do what I can.
27:37 And then I had to go to the grocery store. So I was like, “All right, I will do this. I’ll go to the grocery store, I’ll come back home and finish my work day,” and changing up my environment made such a difference. I was able to just sit down and I just knew what the shanties were supposed to do and I wrote them. I’d been drowning myself in earth, sea shanties for the week before. And I guess at some point my brain just figured out how to process this information that I’d taken in and churned out some shanties that are Peridot world appropriate and will work perfectly and I knew exactly where I was going to put them and it all just came together so amazingly well. So I had a little bit of relief from that.
28:21 Now I get these edits back from Parvus and my heart is broken. I’m positive and certain that I am the worst author in the world and that I’m never going to make book two work, despite the fact that all these edits came with the reassurance that it’s a good book, they were just trying to tighten it up in spots and make it more effective. “But, of course, if I need help being effective, then what kind of writer am I?” I asked myself. None of these things are fair to me, but this is, this was my mindset. All that is to say I am still working on these revisions to Salvage. They need to be done mid-April, if we take some shortcuts to get the ARCs out. So yeah, I am still in Salvage. I am still working on that novel that I drafted in 25 days in 2016. So I guess the first lesson here is that drafting a novel fast does not mean that novel is going to be done earlier, more on time, more efficiently or whatever. And that’s a whole, that’s a whole other thing. Talking about these revisions and why we made the decisions we did, I didn’t want to get into that in this, in this recording, but here we are.
29:37 So we’re able to write Cast Off all in one month. Clearly there’s no evidence to suggest that it would go any differently from how Salvage did. Where Salvage was written two and a half years ago and it’s still in revision process. So, you know, maybe not-finishing Cast Off in a month is okay. It’s not like it’s not going to get done, but there are other reasons which I will announce at other times when things are, you know, when the ink has dried, that I wanted to finish Cast Off early, but it did not happen. And that’s something I just have to accept as the reality of things. But also looking back on it, I have to realize, and I have to recognize that the 2016 Rekka that sat down to write Salvage was in a very different place than 20, well, whatever, whichever month you pick that I attempted to write Cast Off the first time, but let’s say 2019 March Rekka.
30:58 2016 Rekka did not have a publishing contract. So any writing that she did was at her own discretion. If she wanted to work on something. She could put everything else aside and was beholden to no one to finish anything else while she worked on this. She also really only had one other job where now I like to say I have four jobs. I almost have five jobs. Some days it feels like I have eight jobs. I also suspect I don’t have, really, I mean I could go back to my YouTube recordings at the time and confirm, but that’s a nice procrastination technique that I don’t need. I suspect that I also cleared my plate of any freelance design work that I had at the time. So I went in really well planned. I’d done the plot for Salvage. I started with an outline. I didn’t use the same method that I use now because I just learned this method within the last year.
32:11 But at the time, I outlined as best as I knew how, and I think I even sent that outline to my, contracted editor at the time and said, “What do you think of this?” And there might’ve been a tip or not or it might’ve just been like, “Yeah, go with it.”
32:27 So someone had given me the confidence, whether or not the review was thorough, of going ahead with what I’d planned, and I had like 10 hours of writings every week throughout November, and I was able to do my morning writing hour before work. I no doubt went to Starbucks during my lunch and worked on it. And then in the evenings and around my write-ins on the weekend, I was, you know, making up to my, my family for not being there and hanging out and relaxing.
33:08 So hanging out and relaxing is something that’s been missing from my life of recent, and putting firm boundaries on all the work that I do, whether it’s for employment or whether it’s freelance or whether it’s my writing. I definitely tend to look at any spare hour in the day as an opportunity to get something else done. Yeah, so 2016 Rekka had a lot less stress in her life, and she did not have other people’s schedules really to worry about. She had an eight to four-thirty job. She went in after her morning writing hours. She went to her write-ins on the weekends, and a couple of evenings during the week. And aside from that, she probably hung out and drew or, gosh, even back then, I might’ve been just been painting my nails all the time. I always have a lot more stress than I recognize, but looking back, I know that I had a lot more— a lot less stress than I do now.
34:20 Now, this attempt, I was traveling and not just traveling to write-ins, but like traveling-traveling, got sick. My sleep was disrupted. I was not keeping my usual schedule because, again, both those things, I was sick and I was stressed. I had many more jobs, at least a factor of two, than I did at the time. And I was in the middle of active book production on my sequel, which was being published by someone else, rather than self-published, so I was at the mercy of you know, multiple needs from the book production side of things. And I also had a podcast. I also have a Patreon and these are all different aspects of production and stress and splitting my focus, which I think is even more key. Like I think if I did two things and I did them for the same amount of hours that I currently do, five or six things, that the hours spent on two things would be more efficient than the same amount of time spent on other things because every time you switch, you know, switch tracks to work on something else, you do lose a little bit of focus you lose some of that productivity. And so the efforts that I’m making are not going as far as a similar amount of effort would have with less on my plate.
36:01 So this sounds like a lot of excuses and it feels like a lot of excuses to say, but what I’m trying to get at is that I did a thing two and a half years ago and I allowed myself to make that the bar. I set that as the level at which I thought I operated at on demand. And then I increased my workload, both in the number of writing projects I was actively working on and in my employment sphere of life, and then expected to still be able to achieve that same level of output despite putting greater demands on my resources. So this is all to say that I need to be more kind to myself.
36:55 And if you recognize yourself in any of this, then I would encourage you to be more kind to yourself as well. And not just to say, “Hey, set your expectations lower for yourself.” Because of course, no one ever wants to do that, but to measure what you’re doing and give yourself credit for everything you do. Because, okay, in March I didn’t finish a novel, but I finished a website. I traveled and got over being sick. I reestablished my 5:00 AM waking time, which, whew, that was a struggle, especially with daylight savings time in the middle of it. I got more organized. I figured out a system for making notes in my planner that reduces my stress around what I have on my plate. I think I more firmly established, more than ever, a boundary on my task-doing time where I say like, “Okay, it’s the end of my workday. I’m going inside and I’m not working anymore.” Like, I’ll answer text messages if they’re basic questions, but I’m not gonna hop back up and go back to work unless it’s something critical that I forgot.
38:22 But like for the, for the day to day requests, I’m going to be done at a certain time of day because those requests, even if I finished everything on my plate the next day, my plate would be full again. This is not a single task that I can finish and win, you know, it never has been. So, I need to celebrate everything that I’ve done, which includes sometimes saying I’m done working. Which is a boundary that I have always struggled with. I’ve always wanted to be everything to everyone and prove that I am reliable and productive and of value because I get my value through the confirmation of my competence from other people. That’s something else I should probably unpack and work on. Maybe that’s a project for May. I dunno.
39:14 So, a novel in a month. Can I do it? Yeah. Apparently I can. does that mean I’m going to have perfect novel? Nope. Because I did it in November of 2016, and I am still working on that sucker right now. So finishing it quick doesn’t mean finishing it faster. There’s a statement. Finishing it quick does not mean being done faster, and things outside of my control, like other people’s schedules, means that I have to be okay with this pulsing of production and book production. Giving it away and waiting and then getting it back and hurrying to get it back on their schedule, and then waiting and then getting it back. And it’s a lot of back and forth that I just need to build into my expectation, but also, be patient with myself and— Somebody who’s creative and working with me on a project is always going to find somewhere that they can help me tweak something to make it better. I will never hand in a first draft to a publisher who says, “Perfect, great. All we’ll do is run it through copy edits and we’re done.” If I do, if I get that comment back, I should be very concerned that I have reached the Stephen King shark-jumping point in my life where I could write a horror story about missing aglets on a shoe and people will buy it and tell me it’s great, but is it really great?
40:57 Like I seriously, I mean, I know impostor syndrome will not go away. So if I start getting feedback from people that everything I do is perfect, I will believe that exactly none of it is honest. So, so yeah, so I don’t want to be at that point, I don’t want to hand in a first draft perfect draft. I wanted to hand in a first draft and work with other creative people in a writer’s room-style that makes it the best thing that it can be. And that’s what I’m doing right now with Salvage. And that’s what I will do, I know, with Cast Off. Even though Cast Off is not done and this kind of throws into doubt my entire expectation for 2019 as to what I would be able to produce. It is what it is. I need to be kind to myself because being mean to myself as not going to make this process easier, it’s not going to make me more successful on the first run-through.
41:52 And it’s not going to overcome the fact that I have more on my plate these days than I ever have before. With regard to that, my plan is to make sure there’s less on my plate and I have taken active steps to turn down work I’ve received recently. I said, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t work on that.” I have one very large project for freelance that I hope to finish up this week. And then I’m not shuttering my graphic design freelance, but I am not taking on big projects. I am not taking on projects with clients who require a lot of hand-holding because that’s time that is very difficult to build into the price. I mean, you know, this would, if I needed the work, and at this point in my life I’m very grateful to say I don’t really need the work. I’m doing it because I’m afraid someday I might need the work and so I’m afraid to turn down any work.
42:55 But, when I do want the work, I need to build in the hand-holding into my pricing because I have yet to encounter an independent design client who doesn’t need a whole lot more than just the design and delivery of whatever the output files are. They also need advice and they need my expertise and they need additional services that are related to but not explicitly stated in the contracts and stuff. I need to set those boundaries and I need to reduce my workload if I’m not putting my effort where I want it, which is in my writing. So I am going to, once I finish this next design project, be saying no a lot more often. So that’s a good thing. That’s a very good thing. It’s saying no is difficult. I am a chronic volunteer, but I need to control this because I have control over what I respond and I need to not follow the impulse to say, “Yes, of course I can do that because I want you to be happy with me and I am validated by you being happy with my work.”
44:13 I have other work that I want to put out that people can validate me with, honestly. So that is a plan I have stepping forward into 2019 to try and make room for the things that I really want to be working on. And, that’s going to be a huge challenge because, like I said, I’m a chronic volunteer. I hate saying no to people who come to me for help. I love to help people. I love to make other people happy and like I said, I feel validated when other people feel happy that they chose to hire me for the work.
44:47 I’m still traveling a bunch, but I don’t expect that all the travel I’m doing is going to really do much more than make me tired from the traveling across time zones that will be happening. But aside from that, I don’t have quite as many things planned as I did last year, although there’s still plenty throughout the year. I don’t know what’s going to happen if there will be any sort of book tour that I have to worry about, personal appearances. I sold a bunch of Flotsam locally at one bookstore, but I don’t know how much of a drop in the bucket that was in the end. I mean, as far as my royalties go, selling physical books should not be my priority.
45:33 All right, so this is me getting ahead of myself already. I don’t know if you see that happening. What I was trying to say is that my plan going forward is to create the space. If I want to be the author that I was in 2016, I have to get myself back to that position that I was in, which is eight hour workdays. And then writing around that and taking the evenings off and making time for relaxation so that I can restore myself, restore my energy, restore my focus, do other things so that my life does not revolve around either work in Column A or writing in Column B.
46:15 One thing I’m going to try and do is build up my social life again. A lot of our friends, instead of being a 20 minute drive away and child-free, they are now an hour drive away and they have a little one. So planning any social activities with a lot of our friends has become very difficult and it happened, or it really cemented, right around the same time that I switched jobs and now work in this room. So 80% of my life right now focuses around the things that happen in this room. And so in order to rejuvenate my brain and restore my creativity, I need to break out of this room more often and go do things unrelated to writing. And one thing I want to try and I think we’re going to try it very soon is axe-throwing, which is like the latest thing.
47:06 And so we’re going to try that out and we’ll see if I don’t injure myself, I don’t expect to hit myself with an axe. But I do expect that like when we got, Wii bowling for the first time, I could hurt my shoulder and that, that might impact my writing a little bit. So I would need to be gentle with myself, but we’re going to try that and we might try going out and finding someplace to volunteer, like Habitat for Humanity or something like that. Again, potential to injure myself of course. But, we just kind of want to get out and be around other people in small doses rather than traveling and spending like a week with family. Which adds its own kind of stress. We just want a little pulses of getting out and breaking up what has kind of been a monotony.
47:50 My husband works out of the home and now I do, too. And now our friends are moving away and having kids and it’s getting a little bit lonely. I mean, we like each other, but all I want to talk about is writing. So we need to go out and have opportunities to talk about nothing or just random things, movies and stuff like that. So, we’re going to do what we can for that. And all of this is to say that it’s to give my brain some downtime. When I go out and do other things is when I solve my writing challenges. Staying at the computer and staring at the screen and giving myself a hard time ’cause I have writing challenges, surprisingly, does not solve those writing challenges. So we need some more social time and also to just step away and do something completely unrelated and that will give us, also other things to talk about instead of me talking about the plot things I’m working on for the book that my husband hasn’t read yet and him not really having any reference to what I’m talking about. And also having heard it a hundred times before because I’m obsessing, you may notice that pattern that I have.
48:57 So in summary, 2016 November, I did write a book in a month. March 2019, I did not write a book in a month. And however, that does not mean that I’m a bad person or a bad writer or that I failed in any way. Things are happening. There are more moving pieces on the board of my life and I am doing my best to balance those things and trying to be more aware of treating myself well and handling the stresses and doing the things that I need to do to be healthy, to maintain my energy levels, and to continue to move forward without getting in my own way. So yes, MarNoWriMo 2019 was on a binary sense a failure. However, I am not a failure just because I didn’t finish a book in a month under completely different conditions than I did once upon a time, two and a half years ago. So, you know, they say swim in your own lane, but sometimes like you also have to recognize that you’ve gotten into a completely different pool or maybe you swim in your own lane, very successfully in an Olympic swimming pool, but now you’re in the ocean and you’re fighting the tide or current and it just doesn’t work the same way every time. So that’s my lesson: be nice to me and the books will get done and the book will never be done as early as I hoped it would ’cause that’s just, that’s just not how writing works, sadly.
50:49 There’s a quote, well there’s several quotes. One is, and this is from the tools for writers spreadsheet that was created by someone who did not put their name in the tools for writers spreadsheet. So I’d have to go look it up again. But the quote is from Anne Lamott: “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts.” So there, on the January calendar page for this spreadsheet, is a reminder that nothing you do will be right the first time. Then there is the quote, it’s Gwenda Bond: “Everything you write will take longer to finish than you think it will. Everything. And then, on the more positive side, Holly Lisle says, “You must, on really lousy days, remember that you have a dream you are trying to make come true.” And I will finish it off with the Neil Gaiman quote, “Finish things.” The Neil Gaiman quote does not say finish things in a month, or you fail. So there we go. I’m not a failure. I refused the title. There we go. That’s my attempt to be kind to myself, and hopefully you found this useful. All right, everyone, take a deep breath. Give yourself credit for the things that you get done, and I promise if you do, then I will do the same. Take care, everyone. Happy writing.
Thanks to Sara Rose for transcriptions!