Friday, October 8, 2010

Making sausage [or] Will I ever write again?

I started writing my first book last January during winter break -- a quiet moment in the University calendar when I had three glorious weeks out of school but with kids IN school. Ahhh.

I did all the things I usually do as a professor, except teaching. So, only planning, research, applying for grants and all of that. Because I could work from home with no commute, I saved a ton of time and had ample moments to write.

Then I returned to work for the Spring semester which blurred past in a matter of months. Before long it was summer, and while I had a TON of research and planning and so forth on my plate-- again, I could work from home and squeeze writing time into my less-busy evenings and weekends.

Now the Fall semester is chugging along and I have not written FOR WEEKS. I will inch ahead in my work, thinking I can write on weekends and at night, only to find I have to grade/answer emails/deal with work stuff... and the time just disappears. Again and again.

I planned to send a new-and-improved MS to Erinn and Holly at the end of August for beta-reading. Then it was the end of September, and I am not sure I can convince myself anymore that it will happen before the end of October.

We're still in October, right? Please tell me it's not already November.

I don't want to feel like this thing that's supposed to be a joyful and creative enterprise is another source of stress. I'm fine with it being work. I want to work at it. I want it to be a finely-honed craft. But I don't want it to overwhelm me. Yet I apply time-lines to my writing and decide it has to be "done" by a certain point. Then feel bad when it isn't.

Do you do this? Do you struggle with your self-imposed deadlines?

This weekend we're making sausage.

Seriously. Some friends from Louisiana have asked us to participate in a boudin party. It's definitely going to be a blast-- drinking beer and making sausage from scratch with people you adore.

There must be an analogy in here somewhere, right? Taking bits and bobs and with hard work and delicate spices churning them into something delicious and savory.

I'm not sure that was it, but maybe after the boudin party I will be able to craft a better one.

Or at least give myself the freedom to take time, not rush things, and appreciate what I can do, instead of what I can't.


  1. For me it's all about the little moments. Driving home in the car I'm plotting my next scene, or working through a tough revision in my head. I write on my lunch break. I toted my whole printed MS around with me for weeks editing the final draft in spare minutes.

    I try to do a little something every day. It keeps me from feeling like I'm falling behind even when it's only a five minute brain-storm session while my kid is in the bathtub.

    Don't beat yourself up. I definitely believe in setting goals, but I also believe they should be achievable.

    Start slow. Set a goal you *know* you can meet without killing yourself, and see how much better you feel.

  2. Love your sausage analogy... is it weird that it makes me hungry? :)

    I'm totally struggling with my self-imposed deadlines. You're so not alone. I tried to take a nap this afternoon instead of writing while my kiddo was sleeping and ended up wasting almost two hours TRYING to sleep! I couldn't, because I was feeling all guilty about laying around instead of writing!

    It always seems like I've got a zillion things I could be doing (they're usually more important than napping :)), and too often writing gets pushed to the end of the list.

    Good luck, and try not to stress too much!

  3. You're so, so right. I was trying so hard to get my rewrite of my WIP done before November so I could let it rest while I did NaNo--while also trying to get ready for a holiday, carry out my CP duties, handle a big workload at my job, the works. I decided about a week ago, that I can do it quick, or I can do it well. I've chosen quick. It's not a race. I want to do the very best job I can, and that means taking whatever amount of time it takes.

  4. Thanks ladies-- this helps ALOT!!!!!!!

  5. Read this:

    I now live by #4: "Cut yourself some slack."

    I have a baby and a husband and a full-time job and I actually have things I like to do OTHER than writing. I know...crazy, right? But I can't neglect everything else for writing. I just can't. So I cut myself some slack and write when I feel like it. If I never get published...who cares? I'm learning, I'm improving and I'm enjoying myself. Isn't that what really matters?


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