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

most random collection of photos you've ever seen...

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* 😀

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. 😉