Teen Writers Bloc

A Blog by the New School Writing for Children MFA Class of 2012

Trailer and Book Cover Reveal for Lisa Amowitz’s BREAKING GLASS

Posted by Dhonielle Clayton On April - 27 - 2012

BreakingGlassFRONT 409x600 Trailer and Book Cover Reveal for Lisa Amowitzs BREAKING GLASSOur good friend Lisa Amowitz, graphic artist who created our wonderful banner, has big news today. Her book Breaking Glass has a cover and a book trailer.

Check it out the synopsis:

“On the night seventeen-year-old Jeremy Glass winds up in the hospital with a broken leg and a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit, his secret crush, Susannah, disappears. When he begins receiving messages from her from beyond the grave, he’s not sure whether they’re real or if he’s losing his grip on reality. Clue by clue, he gets closer to unraveling the mystery, and soon realizes he must discover the truth or he become the next victim himself.”

Head over to her blog for a snippet of the forthcoming book. This book layers of intrigue and mystery, and you’ll be on the edge of your seat, turning the pages to find out what comes next.

Also, take a peek at her awesome book trailer!

Spring Cleaning: Alyson Quits Scrubbing Bubbles

Posted by Alyson Gerber On April - 25 - 2012

hoover65 lg 426x600 Spring Cleaning: Alyson Quits Scrubbing BubblesI love spring cleaning, any kind of cleaning, really. Whenever I have a bad writing day, or I’m not sure what’s going to happen next in a scene, out come the yellow rubber gloves, Windex, and Clorox.

The thing is, I know exactly what is going to happen if I scrub the kitchen counters and meticulously vacuum and mop the floors. They are going to sparkle and shine, like it says in those 1960s Hoover advertisements. Plus, cleaning is the perfect distraction from writing and re-writing a scene that could end up being absolute trash. And I’ve managed to rationalize it as a perfectly reasonable alternative to actually working. I’m still being “productive.” I’m outlining in my head. I’m thinking through dialogue. I need a break to digest what I’ve written. Lies. All lies.  I am procrastinating.

And the thing about cleaning is that everything just ends up getting dirty again.  If you like to dust and organize as much as I do, you can find dirt to wipe up anywhere — at any time, like on a Saturday afternoon when I should be writing, finishing my thesis, and catching up on Publisher’s Marketplace. Or at 3:00 a.m., when I should be sleeping. In fact, cleaning has become the very bad habit I have to give up, because my shirts don’t need to be folded or color-coordinated again. But as I edit the final scenes of my manuscript and get started on the next one, I can’t seem to stop myself from rearranging everything around me.

The problem is I’m cleaning the wrong thing, and I know it, even as I take the Scrubbing Bubbles out from under the kitchen sink.

What I need to do is de-clutter my life. I have to clear out space in my mind and make more room to think about my books. So this morning, I woke up early and worked out, for the first time in longer than I’m willing to admit, even to myself. I had time alone, away from my Swifer Wet Jet, to think and brainstorm and not worry about anything except my characters. I got to go somewhere else, a land I invented where there is no such thing as dust.

Photo courtesy Hoover

mousewheel Spring Cleaning: Dhonielle Must Pull Back on the Day Job and Stop Spinning Her WheelsAlas … the dreaded day-job — well, really, afternoon, early evening, and weekend job — is cutting severely into my productivity. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to make a dent into my on-going, never-ending to-do list. I try and try to get up earlier, take a shorter lunch, sit in Starbucks, but I can’t seem to get it all done. I always have to create a worksheet for a kid or I’m running to make photocopies of test prep material or scooting up to the Upper East Side at rush hour, fighting through the crowds to get to Madison or Park or Fifth Avenue.

It’s a never-ending loop. You could say, “Dhonielle, you have your whole day all to yourself.” YES! I do have that. I can get up leisurely and write. But I’m always preparing or behind, so I need to get caught up so I can use my day-time hours more efficiently. That, and going to bed at a decent hour. I get home from tutoring and decompress with a little TV, and then try to do more work. By the time I’m finished it’s 3 a.m.

And at the end of each day, even if I’ve checked something off the to-do list, I still feel like there’s a mountain on top of me and I’m spinning my wheels.

My list of bad habits that need to be kicked this spring are:

  • Staying up past midnight
  • Eating past midnight and thus fueling myself to continue working
  • Staying in bed past 10 a.m.
  • Taking on new tutoring clients
  • Ignoring my thesis!

But here’s a sample of what’s on my plate to justify my whining:

  • Editing and cleaning up my thesis!
  • Completing the last 50-75 pages my current w-i-p MG novel — smoothing it, editing it, giving it to Amy Ewing to read — to turn a full into the agent
  • Finishing a massive edit of a collaborative project
  • Launching a website with Jess Verdi — details to come soon
  • Slowly working on another collaborative project with Lisa Amowitz
  • Reading and critiquing
I know what needs to be done. And I plan on getting there.

Photo Credit: Secretary of Innovation

Spring Cleaning: Corey Wonders What REAL Focus Feels Like

Posted by Corey Haydu On April - 20 - 2012

4097914782 35bd96c858 Spring Cleaning: Corey Wonders What REAL Focus Feels LikeI blogged last month with The Lucky 13s about my overly rigid habits as a writer. That I “can’t write” unless I’m at a certain cafe at a certain time drinking a certain drinks in a certain way. I wrote about how prohibitive that process can be for me, how it blocks me from taking advantage of all available writing time. That’s certainly one habit I’m working on curing, in baby steps. In fact, this past weekend I wrote all Saturday night — at home, no less! It was a big step.

But the real Spring Cleaning that needs to happen for me has to do with that elusive work-life balance. It’s a bit of a cyclical problem: if I’m ONLY writing and not experiencing life, I feel deflated and have have nothing to write about, I feel uninspired. But if I spend too much time living life, being social, having adventures, then I don’t actually end up doing any writing.

Recently, during Teen Author Week, author Ellen Hopkins talked about writing for 8-10 hours a day. I was at once insanely jealous and totally positive that that would never work for me. When she’s working, she’s WORKING and nothing else. That kind of intense focus, that total disregard for the life outside the computer screen — that isn’t my style.

You know why I write in a cafe? Because in a cafe I know that something exciting could happen. Life could happen, while I’m sitting and writing. I could meet someone! There could be a brawl! An impromptu party! An awkward first date or breakup conversation to eavesdrop on! I need those things. I need the promise of excitement, I need to be constantly working AND living life, in tandem. Talking about writing when at drinks with friends. Hoping for a friend to drop by while I’m deep in writing or revision. But I’m not sure these desires are reasonable, or even making me happy/keeping me productive. I’d like to try JUST writing, or JUST living. I’d like to be focused on my friends when I’m with my friends, to talk about things other than writing when I’m sharing french fries with a writer-friend. And when I’m writing, I’d like to have a taste of Ellen Hopkin’s razor-sharp focus. I’d like to be only thinking of my characters and nothing else.

I’m not sure it will happen. I can’t seem to get writing out of my mind, even at the best, busiest, most delicious wine bar. And I can’t seem to forget about the wonder of Real Life, even when I’m deeply entrenched in the creating of a Fictional Life.

Photo Credit: Savvyblogging.net

Spotlight: Kate Milford’s KickStarter Campaign and The Kairos Mechanism

Posted by Dhonielle Clayton On April - 19 - 2012

The Boneshaker Spotlight: Kate Milfords KickStarter Campaign and The Kairos Mechanism My good friend Kate Milford is embarking up a fascinating journey — using self-publishing to accompany her traditionally-published novels, The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands (Clarion, September 2012). She is one of the most talented writers I know, and I love all the things she writes. Plus, she’s always up to something. Most recently she has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund her latest book (which is wonderful and imaginative and everything I love in a good book).

We caught up with her about her latest endeavor.

Here’s the big idea in her own words describing what she’s up to:

I’m publishing a novella companion to release this fall with my second book, The Broken Lands (Clarion, September 2012). I want to experiment with self-publishing as a way to promote and enhance traditional releases by providing extra content to readers in the form of complete, related tales. I also want to use resources that support independent bookstores. It’s my hope to release a self-published novella alongside as many of my forthcoming hardcover releases as possible in an ongoing effort called the Arcana Project, which is why it has the optimistic subtitle.

The novella is called The Kairos Mechanism (Arcana #1), and it’s a story about characters from my first book, The Boneshaker (Clarion, 2010). It’s also related to the events of The Broken Lands

 

Synopsis: 

September, 1913. The crossroads town of Arcane, Missouri, is a place where strange things happen, and lately those strange things have a habit of happening to thirteen year-old Natalie Minks. It’s Natalie who first encounters the two boys who arrive in town seemingly out of nowhere, carrying a dead man between them. Odder still, a few of her older neighbors immediately recognize the dead man as a fellow citizen who’s been missing for fifty years–and who doesn’t appear to have aged in all that time. When another newcomer, a peddler called Trigemine, arrives in town, Natalie learns why the two boys and the peddler have really come to Arcane. And, of course, she realizes she has to stop them.

Like The Boneshakerand The Broken Lands, The Kairos Mechanism is a moderately frightening folklore-based fantasy. If you have read The Boneshaker, you’ll find the novella full of clues as to what’s coming and bits of history about characters you’ve already met. If you haven’t read it, don’t worry. You’ll fall in love with Natalie and Arcane right away.

I caught up with her to ask a few more questions about her project and how she creates as a writer.

TheBrokenLands Cover 1 166x245 Spotlight: Kate Milfords KickStarter Campaign and The Kairos Mechanism 1. How did you come up with the whole idea for having this novella? Are companion novels and novellas something you’ve always wanted to create as a writer?

I guess it started with the Nagspeake Board of Tourism and Culture website. I love cities and towns, and I love the idea of exploring a fictional city the way you’d explore a real one, by poking your nose into different streets and alleys and shops at random to see where your wandering takes you. So I started building a fictional city, Nagspeake, online. I’ve sort of always been interested in the ephemera that are hidden around a place or a story, just waiting to be discovered.

Ultimately this is why I started thinking about writing some companion pieces to my books. It was an idea I’ve been kicking around since the year after The Boneshaker sold. At that point, I had the idea for the project that would become The Broken Lands—it was just the tiniest bit of an idea, but I was thinking about what Jack the Drifter might’ve been up to before he wandered through Arcane. At the same time, I was beginning to think about a bigger story, something that would pit Natalie Minks against Jack. I thought it would make for a neat bit of backstory, something that might tide readers over until I began the big Natalie/Jack series. Fortunately, my publisher thought The Broken Lands would make a better full-length novel, and she was right. But I never stopped thinking about what I could do with all the extra little ideas I had floating around, and how I could use them to provide extra content for readers to explore the world of The Boneshaker.

Also I had about a year where I wasn’t sure what my next contract was going to be, and a girl’s gotta stay busy. At least, I do. Otherwise I go a bit crazy, and my husband likes it when I’m not crazy.

 

2. When you created the world of The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands, did you know you had several more stories within the world to tell? Did you always plan for this? Give us a little insight into your world-building.

Originally, I had envisioned The Boneshaker as a stand-alone novel, but once I added Jack, I started thinking about it differently, and by the time I was done, I knew I wanted to bring Jack back to Arcane. And I started wondering about what he might’ve been up to. Jack is an extraordinarily powerful creature looking for a place to make his own, and for this purpose he needs a place with a powerful crossroads. It occurred to me that before he settled on a small crossroads town like Arcane, he might’ve tried for someplace big first. From there, I started tracing his efforts backward, so now I know of several places he turned up before Arcane.

What happens with me is once I get really immersed in a place or time, I keep getting ideas. I fall in love with my characters (even—maybe especially—the villains), and I know where they all come from and where they all were at different times. And since the world of The Boneshaker is populated by a number of ancient wanderers and a number of powerful crossroads, I started thinking about those, and about their histories and about how the roamers might’ve crossed paths and where, and when…and things evolve from there. Plus, I’m an obsessive researcher, so as I get to know an era better and better, I start thinking things like, you know, Liao (a character in The Broken Lands) would’ve been a boy right about then. What might he have been up to? And Jake Limberleg (the villain of The Boneshaker) would’ve been youngish then, too…I wonder under what circumstances they might have crossed paths? This is where most of the ideas I have stockpiled away for the Arcana came from. It’s also where most of the ideas for the full-length projects I’m working on right now come from, to

I did seed certain things into The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands that I knew I wanted to come back to. Two characters in The Broken Lands spring to mind, for instance: there is a nameless woman with a violin, and a girl with silver eyes. They are not physically present in the book the way the protagonists are, but they are mentioned in a crucial story that one of the characters tells, and they’re characters in future books. But that’s often as far as my planning goes. I know I’m coming back to them, and why, and I usually have a vague (but sometimes only the vaguest) idea as to what their untold backstories are. But I don’t always know the specifics.

 Spotlight: Kate Milfords KickStarter Campaign and The Kairos Mechanism 3. Without spoiling the wonderful plot of The Kairos Mechanism, can tell us how this book is a bridge between The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands? Or how do you intend it to function?

The Boneshaker takes place in Arcane, Missouri, in 1913, and it’s about a girl named Natalie Minks. The Broken Lands takes place in New York City in 1877, and although two characters from The Boneshaker turn up, the cast is otherwise entirely different. It’s a bit of a prequel, in that the events that take place in The Broken Lands relate to The Boneshaker, but it’s basically a stand-alone story. So The Kairos Mechanism is meant to do two things. Firstly, it’s a Natalie story, to tide me (and any Natalie-fans who are out there) over until I get to come back to her and to Arcane. Secondly, it provides some extra clues as to how the two books are related, some clues to what’s coming for Natalie, and some history for readers who, like me, want to know more about the world and the characters. And it’s a self-contained story in its own right.

Like I mentioned, I really love when, as a reader, I get to explore a world in more depth and really get to know it. But I want to be able to explore it while I’m reading the story it relates to, and I particularly love when I find extra content that isn’t just extra content, but something that actually changes the way I read the story. Obviously this is a fine line—if it’s not in the book, it almost can’t be critical to the story (unless that’s the point, I guess). And the extra content can’t be spoilery—for instance, I don’t know in what order people are going to read The Kairos Mechanism and The Broken Lands, and there are probably going to be people who read one of those two before they even read The Boneshaker. So I’m having to be very careful about what’s fair game to include, or refer to, or reveal. It’s very tricky.

4. If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, which we know it will be, what are your plans for the rest of the Arcana? Can you give us a little insider information? Or a sneak peek of your vision for them?

My pie-in-the-sky dream is to release an Arcanum novella alongside every hardcover release. I have a list of projects I’m saving up for them—basically for every full-length proposal I’ve written in the last year, I have a plan for a novella to accompany it. And one of the coolest things I’ve planned for the project (if I do say so myself) is that each one will be available in a digital version illustrated by young artists, one artist per chapter. The group that’s assembling right now is so diverse in terms of styles, I think it’s going to make for an amazing collection of illustrations. (And for what it’s worth, as of 1pm EST on Wednesday, I am still in need of one or two more artists.)

 

The Kairos Mechanism Kickstarter campaign’s off to a great start, but it still needs backers in a big way. Plus, if we exceed our goal, I’ll be able to bump up the artists’ compensation. Plus plus, if we REALLY exceed our goal—and it can happen, there’s still time—I may be able to finance the second Arcanum on this campaign. That would be amazing. I’d like the project ultimately not to require crowd-sourcing the funds, but that’s a long-term goal, obviously. It won’t happen on the first few installments.

 

 

Spring Cleaning: Mary Denies Her Problems

Posted by Mary G. Thompson On April - 18 - 2012

12406pgephldncy Spring Cleaning: Mary Denies Her ProblemsOkay, this month we’re supposed to write about bad writing habits or problems. What, me problems? Because I’m a subscriber to Scientific American Mind, I know I’m not unique in bearing this psychological trait: I’m sure that none of my problems are really my problems. Which is to say, they’re not my fault. Which is to say:

I’m not lazy, I’m just tired.

I’m not procrastinating, I’m percolating.

I’m not surfing the Internet, I’m researching.

I’m not sleeping, I’m active dreaming.

I’m not reading, I’m learning my craft.

I get headaches, so sue me.

Do you have any Excedrin? I’m out.

I said, do you have any Excedrin?

I SAID, DO YOU HAVE ANY EXCEDRIN???

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

It’s not my fault you didn’t give me any Excedrin. I really can’t be held responsible for my actions. For example, why has my nice book about some kids prancing around in a fantasy world suddenly turned into a senseless bloodbath involving body parts and spurting guts? Possibly it has something to do with the way THIS COMPUTER SCREEN IS GIVING OFF SO MUCH *&(#*& LIGHT!

[Four hours later.] In all seriousness folks, I could work more. I know that some people think I already work a lot, but it’s not good enough. I still spend way too much time being tired, percolating, researching, active dreaming, and of course, learning my craft. I could blame the headaches, insomnia, distractions, work-work, or my stuffed pink pig. But the truth is, I should just try to buck up and work more. Probably that means I’m going to have to start getting up earlier. Also, I should actually do the things on today’s to-do list instead of just moving them to tomorrow over and over again. Finally, I should work more. There aren’t really any gnomes inside my head making me forget what I’m doing and play ping-pong with them. That’s just a story I made up to avoid writing another 1000 words today. But now that you mention it, I think I will play another game.

Image Credit: Simon Howden

Spring Cleaning: Caela Simply Refuses!

Posted by Caela Carter On April - 17 - 2012

 Spring Cleaning: Caela Simply Refuses!Here’s the bottom line when it comes to me and spring cleaning: NO.

It’s not that I shouldn’t be tidying up, believe me. I should be listing, organizing my schedule, setting a writing goal and meeting it everyday, focusing.

For one thing, I have three projects going on at once right now. I also have two peer groups and I’m critiquing up to 100 pages of awesome writing a week. Plus, I’m blogging for Teen Writers Bloc and the Lucky 13s and soon to be blogging for the Class of 2k13. I’m working on getting my name out there — tweeting, creating a website, etc. I’m finalizing both parts of my thesis, the creative and the critical.

And on a totally different note, I’m getting married this summer and I’m somewhat ashamed to say that I sometimes lose hours or even days to silly things like trying on dresses or scheduling hair trails. (What is a hair trial? you may ask. But I’m afraid I’m not exactly sure.) Plus, I’m trying to spend time with the fiance, to ensure that we each actually still remember the other is on the wedding day.  Then there’s trying to spend time with family, friends, and everyone in between.

Oh yeah, and I still have that almost-full-time job.

At this point, I have so many things on my to-do list everyday that I rarely get 50% checked off.

So I totally need to spring-clean like woah! I need to prioritize that WIP!

But the thing is that I only get married once.  And I also only get one debut novel. And I only get one MFA thesis. I want to make sure I make the most of each of these.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We graduate in May. I get married in August. After that, there will be a lot more room in my schedule for cleaning and carving out time for new words as I have in the past.

 Spring Cleaning: Caela Simply Refuses!

For now, I’m really resisting this whole Spring Cleaning thing, and I didn’t really know why. I’m usually all for structured time. I’m usually quite diligent about my writing.

But I’m happy. I’m happy not knowing exactly what I’ll accomplish when I wake up each morning (as long as I at least get something written). I’m happy in this crazy hectic schedule (with the knowledge that it’s temporary, of course).

And this career isn’t one to cling to for any reason other than happiness. It’s inconsistent. It’s not very lucrative. It’s not even all that well-respected. If you want to be a writer for children, there’s only one reason: because it makes you happy. Because it’s all you can imagine doing.

I know that I’ll be cleaning up come fall. For now, I’m happy and I’m writing something or another everyday. For now, that’s good enough.

I’m ready to enjoy my messy spring!

Photo credit: harpyness, shutterstock

Spring Killing: Riddhi Wants to Kill the Fear

Posted by Riddhi Parekh On April - 16 - 2012

thoughtbubbles Spring Killing: Riddhi Wants to Kill the FearA few weeks ago, I smacked my laptop shut and said, “That’s it. I don’t want to write anymore. It’s too hard.”

I was fed up with the insurmountable task of putting words to a blank page. I had some concepts in mind, but after chalking them out, I pitied the fool that might have to read them.

And sadly, that fool was me.

I gave up trying to “create” and decided, instead, to polish another story — one I’d been keeping a safe distance from. I had been “building” on it for a year now, but every time I tried to plough through, I seemed to get stuck.

Perhaps I should have outlined it better. What is really going on here? Why have I cooked up this messy stew that I’m too afraid to sip on? I can’t see the path ahead. It’s too hard. Help! Help!

Or perhaps I was too attached. I couldn’t seem to chop evidently extraneous characters and scenes. Who should I keep? Who should I cut? Help! Help!

Once again, I smacked the laptop shut and gave up.

I told myself this would all be over soon, and that after the MFA, I’d never ever write ever again. I backspaced and deleted 40 pages of that tale. I dug a deep trench and buried myself in that cold, dank and dark space where there was no pressure to write. No need to create. No words or pages. Just space to imagine it perfectly in my head.

I told my classmates about how I was DONE with writing.

Dhonielle told me to get out of that hole.

Lenea gave it to me straight up and said, “You’re being fickle.”

They were both right.

A lot goes on in the mind of a writer. As Jess pointed out at our last peer group meeting, sometimes you can imagine a conversation that your characters are having and it occupies at least a whole page — in your head. But when you sit down and actually write that dialogue, it’s difficult to stretch it beyond a paragraph or two.

This semester, I discovered that, often the parts of my writing that I almost cut out or was too embarrassed to share were the ones I got most compliments for.

But for me, there is always fear. The fear of being judged. And the fear is a bad habit. One that can easily stop you from going farther with your writing. What are people going to think of me? Is this lame?

A writer once told me that he’d rather be walking down Sixth Avenue naked with the whole world staring at him than have people read his poetry. I concur.

As writers, we place too much of a burden on ourselves, trying to sift through our billions of thoughts and stringing them into sentences and paragraphs to make the text perfect. And when we reread our work and share it with others, it is as if our writing is the metaphorical dead frog about to be dissected.

More so for everyone at Teen Writers Bloc, because we have a few weeks in hand to write that masterpiece of a thesis.

So for now, the one bad habit I’d like to “cleanse” myself of is the fickle-minded one. The one that plagues me with fear. The one that makes me overthink it.

I am my own worst enemy. I must bid adieu to that scary, imagined audience. I will no longer allow you to run up my laptop-repair costs. I will write and rewrite and write some more, unafraid. And the text shall remain on the screen.

Speech Bubbles image courtesy http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Spring Cleaning: Amy Adopts A Positive Attitude

Posted by Amy Ewing On April - 13 - 2012

positive thinking Spring Cleaning: Amy Adopts A Positive AttitudeIf someone had asked me this time last year what bad writing habit I would want “spring cleaned” from my life, it would most definitely have been procrastination. A trait I inherited from my father, I am a master procrastinator. But failure is a great motivator. Unlike so many of the other lovely and talented TWBers, my first attempt at querying did not result in an agent. Such is life. And, of course, there was a lot of moping and moaning and sadness and feeling like I’d never be good enough, but really there was only one thing I could do to improve my situation: write another book.

So I did. I threw myself into a new project and, by treating writing like an actual job, I was able to finish a novel rather quickly (note: it does help when you have a part-time job and no money, forcing you to stay inside, where you feel like you have no good reason not to write). And now I find myself once again on the brink of querying agents. To say that I am dreading the experience with every fiber of my being would be an understatement — I am dreading it far more than that.

But this time, I am determined to keep a positive attitude. I will not crumble to pieces every time the words “Dear Author” appear in my inbox. I will not replay phrases like “I’m sorry I did not love this enough to offer representation” over and over again until they’ve been seared into my brain. I will not find myself slumped on my couch, crying into a large glass of wine while watching The Vampire Diaries, cursing at Elena because her biggest problem is deciding which hot vampire to make out with. (Okay, that last one will probably still happen…)

This spring, I will be positive. Yes. Happy thoughts. Good vibes. Strength of heart. Of course, it’s easy to say this now. Let’s see how I’m feeling by the end of the month…

Spring Cleaning: Sona Recommits to Her Writing

Posted by Sona Charaipotra On April - 12 - 2012

6710953053 1939dda9f8 Spring Cleaning: Sona Recommits to Her WritingA few weeks ago, I found myself back at my old magazine stomping grounds, a sky rise in midtown Manhattan where millions are made (and perhaps lost) every day, where the pace can make your head spin, where an average day could run 14 hours. I had the opportunity to chat about a short stint, just three months. And as much as I’ve been satisfied with my life since I left that world, I had to admit, I missed it. I missed my colleagues (hi Ericka!) and the thrill of the scoop. I missed the satisfaction of seeing the finished product on the page and knowing people would be enjoying it. I also missed the steady paycheck, the health insurance, the movie screenings…

It was weird. More than five years ago, I decided to go freelance — and I still very clearly remember the reasons why. I wanted a saner schedule, more time for my family — and, perhaps most importantly, more time for my writing. But being in that building again, I kept kept imagining where I’d be if I’d never left. Perhaps an editor in the very department I’d be filling in for. The short-term gig seemed idyllic, actually. Regular hours, a decent paycheck, a pace I could easily manage and a topic I found entertaining. But between the start date and the schedule, I knew it would mean a summer of struggling to squeeze in any writing. To be sure, writing fiction is a scarier, less stable path (although many freelance journalists reading this would laugh at that statement). But it’s one I definitely want to pursue.

I’ve long lamented on this site my lack of ability to finish a book. And now, as we wrap up our final semester at The New School, I’m finally coming close. I’ve been making steady progress on my thesis project, and I’m also nearly done with a solid draft of the other work-in-progress. By this summer, if I really focus and take my work seriously — if I treat writing fiction like a job — I could have two finished books. But that’s a big if.

It’s really easy for me to say work gets in the way. Because it does, to a degree. As a wife and a mother in a two-income household, I need to carry my weight. And as far as work goes, my job is pretty fun. But the freelance life brings with it a feast or famine mentality, which makes it hard for me to say no. (And I know others who suffer from the same malady. Yes, I’m calling you out, Dhonielle!) But it’s not the only thing. There’s that kid I’ve got. I’m drowning in guilt over all the time she spends at daycare. So every minute I can spend with her, I will. And there’s my handsome, smartie pant husband, whom I sometimes miss even though I see him every day. Plus, I have great family and friends and classmates whom I enjoy and want to spend time with. All of this before I even start to ponder picking up a book or watching Days of Our Lives. 

Where does that leave writing time? Too frequently, at the bottom of the list. But I’ve decided to change that. Bringing myself to turn down that short-term gig was my first step in recommitting to moving writing to the top of the list. As my husband often reminds me, its now or never. I have this brilliant opportunity to really focus on something I’m passionate about in grad school. So few people get that opportunity (or have such supportive spouses and family members). I need to make the most of it. And it doesn’t have to have an expiry date. My commitment to writing doesn’t have to go poof like a pumpkin come our May 17th graduation. That day should only mark the beginning.

So with that in mind, my spring cleaning goal is to start prioritizing my writing. This week, I wrote nearly 20 new pages. I gave work a solid few hours, but spent the rest of my time focusing on writing. I’ve still got half a thesis to finish, and I want it to be a solid start to my novel. That means giving it the time it deserves. That means giving myself the time I deserve.

Photo courtesy marset544/Flickr

 

pixel Spring Cleaning: Sona Recommits to Her Writing
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