my first year as a part-time (soon-to-be) novelist

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My boy finished his last week of preschool last week. This first year for us – first year of school for him, first year working on anything in a very focused capacity for me – went by sort of unnoticed, I think. We started it, and became immersed in it, and just as soon it was over.

I know it made a big difference for him to be in school. But I spent a lot of the year not feeling like I’d accomplished very much. During the days while he was at school, I’d often find myself on Twitter or blogs. I struggled with the discipline to sit down for those 3-5 solid hours and write for the whole time. For so many years, I’ve trained myself to write in little pockets of time. 20 minutes while he watches a cartoon, or 35 minutes while he’s in the bath, or 15 minutes when some toy has caught his attention, or 45 minutes before bed. So suddenly when I had a stretch of 5 hours uninterrupted, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

I’d like to say I got better at it as the year went on. Maybe I did. It’s hard to measure in any certain capacity. There were days when nothing went according to plan – hubby missed his train and I had to drive him to work, or I had household stuff to do, phone calls to make, errands to run or whatever. There were plenty of days where one, or two, or even all three of us were sick. (Starting school = disease, let me tell you!!!) There were days when one blog after another after another were just so damn interesting that I never got around to the writing, and before I knew it, it was pickup time already.

So the whole year, I felt like I should be doing better, but then looking back on it all from this point of view, I actually wrote a lot. From September to January I first-drafted the novel I’m currently working on, and a large part of what will become my second novel. I even picked at a couple of chapters on my “fine-wine” third novel. From January to now, I’ve been focused on banging out the second draft of this first novel, the one that I should be finishing up here in just a few weeks. (I’m well aware that I have too many novels in the works for anyone to make sense of it. I actually have another post coming up where I’d like to tell you more about my first novel, Exactly Where They’d Fall, and about why the novel I actually started first, Paper Birds is going to be another five or six years before it’s finished, lol! But that’s a topic for another day.)

So while the days didn’t go exactly as I thought they might, I did do a lot of work. And I’m not quite sure when that work was accomplished – maybe still in all those tiny pockets of time? I won’t slight the time spent on Twitter or the blogs, since I’ve met so many writers and learned so much about the publishing industry I’m about to jump into. The work got done. And now I’m sitting at about 80% through my second draft, with two more books waiting in the queue, and I can’t say this year was a failure. It was anything but. In fact, it was quite productive.

And that’s just on my part. Dylan did amazingly this year too! Preschool was great for him, and the school he went to was fantastic! His teachers were awesome and they really did a great job with the kids this year. (If anyone needs a preschool recommendation in NOVA, definitely check this one out.) He’s beginning to read already, counting and starting basic math, he made a few new friends, and he’s on his way to kindergarten this fall.

Now that he’ll be home with me for these summer months, I know I won’t be able to have the same output I did during the school year. And instead of being frustrated about that, I’d rather just not write, and enjoy our time together. I clearly remember how frustrating it was to be a full-time mom, and I think a lot of that stemmed from me needing to be a writer too. It’s not possible really, at the age he was, to be even a part-time writer in the days and still give him the attention he needed. Maybe other women can do it, but it didn’t work for me. Once he stopped napping, my work days were over. I could hardly manage the time to write a blog entry.

But if all goes according to plans, my second draft will be in the hands of my beta readers this summer, and all will be golden. I’ll lounge by the poolside reading books (or well, no – that’s a fantasy – I’ll be in the pool splashing around with D probably, lol!). We’ll walk to the park, and take day trips to wherever, and take lots and lots of pictures too. And I won’t be writing. Or at least not writing much. I may be picking at a couple short stories over the summer, in the evenings, or in the twenty-minute spaces of peace – but otherwise, nothing serious.

I can take the summer off. After all, I did write a lot this year, didn’t I? *pats self on back* ๐Ÿ˜€

And then in September, I’ll be a FULL-time (soon-to-be) novelist. And maybe I’ll even be better at managing all that free writing time. I’ll be diving into my third draft for this book, and hopefully getting it out to an editor by then end of October. Final edits through the winter. And then ready for release by late winter/early spring of 2012!

(Whoa, did I just say that out loud?)

And well, while I’m feeling so brave to say things out loud, I might as well say this out loud too (since I think it’s probably no big secret anymore, as much as I blab). Let’s make it official.

I’m going indie! (Independently publishing, aka self-publishing, for those not in the biz.)

After my next round of edits, I’ll be hiring my own editor and publishing my own work. This has been a very heavy decision for me, but one I’m finally 100% certain on – I have no desire, at this point in my career, to shop my novels to a traditional publisher.

But then, that topic is a whole (HUGE) conversation for another day. ๐Ÿ˜‰

11 thoughts on “my first year as a part-time (soon-to-be) novelist

  1. You’ve been an amazing inspiration this year you know. When you’re quiet on Twitter, than I know work is getting done. I’ve missed you a lot during the days, but I’m happy to know that you’re working so hard and we’ll soon have the book in our hands to read!

    The summer is all yours. You’ve definitely worked hard and earned it.

  2. As a soon-to-be-mommy who worries about how she’ll find time to write, I find what you’ve accomplished especially encouraging. I know it will be rough for a few years, but I look to you as an example and role model so that I won’t give it up. I’m so excited for you, and I can’t wait to read your stuff too!

  3. Nina, thank you! Oh I know, I miss Twitter too. Though I haven’t neglected Twitter even half as much as I’ve neglected Facebook. I’m looking forward to those lazy days at the start of a project, when I would write 400 words, call it a day and then get on the internet.

    Man, I was always the type to leave my work to the end. In school, I’d be starting my essays at midnight with a pot of coffee and a prayer, lol!

    Rachel, awww, thank you! You know, that was exactly the sentiment that led to this blog’s current title (“this is not a mommy blog”). That I was afraid I would never find the time to be a writer again, and still do everything else I needed to do. And I knew I didn’t want to put it off until after he was out of the house.

    But you’ll do just fine! Plenty of women continue writing with small children around. Though I’m not going to say my housework doesn’t slip (just ask my hubby! lol!), but it’s not impossible by far. And once D hit about 6-8 months or so, it got easier to find time to do more. He would take big long naps, two or three times a day, and sleep through the night. I wrote the whole of my practice novel when he was between one and two. It wasn’t until after he gave up naps, at about 2.5 or 3, that finding time got troublesome. That’s a very needy age, and no naps to boot! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    All I can say is Thank God for preschool!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Congrats on the official announcement! No going back now, I expect a finished book next year. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I have a hard enough time balancing my day job with writing, but at least I can leave the day job at the office after work hours. I can’t imagine how hard it is to find time to write and raise a kid. You’ve done an amazing job at handling both this year! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I’m really glad that you can now look back at this year and see that you’ve actually got a ton done! I’m always impressed you can juggle so much, even though you’ve had times when you didn’t think you were doing such a great job. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Laura- I’m so happy to see you put into words what I’ve been feeling about having all that time but not the discipline to write that entire time. Many well-known writers say that they are more productive when they are teaching or otherwise working because it structures their time. I hear that and feel relief but also guilt because I am lucky enough to not have to work and feel that every minute should be spent on writing, forgetting that I am taking care of a house, family, pets, budget, etc… I find I get the most writing done when I go to the coffee shop. No laundry or dishes and now that my AirPort has gone MIA, no internet on my laptop to lure me away from my work. I am so proud of you and look forward to reading your work, however it finds its way into the world:)

  7. Shana, thanks! It’s true, there’s something very official about promising a release date, out loud and in public, even if it is still a vague one. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It seems forever away some days, and other days it seems too soon!

    Yes, it is quite a lot like a day job that never ends, lol! At least it’s a fun one most of the time? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Carla, you guys are all saints for listening to my daily minor freakouts. I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have without your cheerleading, so thank you! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Kim, also I think creative work is different enough in nature that it can’t really be done laboriously for 5 hours straight (or at least, in my brain it can’t), even if we did have the discipline to sit down at the computer for all that time. And the writing work also goes on during the off-times as well, if you’re thinking about a story while you fold laundry, or cook dinner, or read another book, or fall asleep at night.

    Right, and then you balance that with all the rest of your life duties! I know that guilt as well.

    Thank you! I’m excited and nervous to have everyone reading this book (in seven or eight more months! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ ) – I just know that’s going to go by in a flash!

  8. Laura, this is so exciting! You should be very, very proud of all you’ve accomplished this year. I write at home full-time, and I struggle to find time for it even without kids to distract me. (And Kim, I definitely empathize with your guilt.) You’re definitely a positive, encouraging voice in the blogosphere – and so genuine. Thank you for being so honest about the way things are. And enjoy your summer off! =)

  9. Annie, awww, thank you! (And so sorry, your comment got lost in my moderation folder for three days, lol!)

    It was quite surprising for me to find that even with all that extra time, it still takes a lot of discipline to get the writing done. I think I had a lot of illusions (as I think a lot of aspiring writers do) that it was just the lack of time holding me back, but in reality, like everyone says, writers make time to write. Being granted the time isn’t necessarily going to make the writing come any easier. I can testify to that now!

    But I did do much better toward the end of the year than I did in the beginning though, so I do think there’s something to be said for practicing discipline as well.

    Glad to hear from you here! And thank you! ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. You sound so organized and self-assured – I am jealous! I think you have done an amazing amount of work this year and I totally agree you should spend the summer with D, splashing in the pool and traveling. Those memories will only fuel more writing down road, after all! I cannot wait to read your work, and I also can’t wait to read about your decision to go indie – which, by the way, i think is a great decision!

  11. Courtney, sorry for the delay in responding to this – I’ve been in England!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

    I’m very excited about indie publishing! It’s opened floodgates in terms of creativity, now that I’m just working for myself and my readers, not having to worry about where my stories might fit, or who might take a chance on them. I think this will be the best career move I’ve ever made.

    I’ll probably get this blog moving again next week, after I unpack and clean out all the spiders who moved into our house while we were away, lol!

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