Summer Schedule

Thinking about my upcoming summer, getting writing done. I think I’m going to try to start each week by planning out what I’ll write when. I’m going to aim for spending two hours every morning writing, whatever else is going on, and if I accomplish that, great. If I want to keep writing, that’s bonus. I will try to take an actual hour-long lunch break, even if the writing is going well, to stretch and clear my head. Afternoons for domestic / cooking / reading / relaxing. Evenings for the kids, and then check in to see if I want to write more after they’ve gone to sleep, because that’s another 2-3 hour stretch, and often, that’s a good writing time for me. But if I want to hang out with Kev instead, or knit and watch tv, that’s fine too. And I’m going to plan out what I’m actually working on in advance, rather than feeling paralyzed by choice.
 
I looked at this week just now, and it looks like this:
 
***
 
Monday: Go to airport @ 9:30, settled into a cafe by 10:30. Revise “Moon Maid” for George, and send to him by 4. Yes, I’m already breaking my pattern, but it’s a travel day, and travel is weird. Flight home @ 5, rest and relax with family in evening. (I’m going to the airport that early to save the con staff an hour-long extra trip to take me; I can work in an airport cafe just as easily as a hotel cafe.)
 
Tuesday: No writing in morning — doctor appointment which takes priority. Health trumps everything. Then drop off two baskets’ worth of supplies to the Garden Club, spend an hour helping them make baskets for the raffle. Go into campus, lunch with a colleague, pick up student portfolios, finish grading by end of day. Summer doesn’t really start until grading is in, and I’m going to try not to procrastinate it this year.
 
Wednesday: Real start to summer schedule. 7:30 – 9:30: Work on revising “Flight” to novella-length (I’m cutting down 80,000 words to 40,000; it’s going to be an adventure). 9:30 – 10:30: Decorate hat with fresh flowers from the garden for the ‘parade of hats.’ 11 – 2: Garden Club spring luncheon. Evening: go into city for book launch of Good Company at The Book Cellar.
 
Thursday: 7:30 – 9:30: Work on revising “Flight” to novella-length. 10:00 – 11:00: Therapist appointment. Afternoon: Make strawberry-soursop marshmallows, and tamarind-ginger-chili marshmallows. Think about intergalactic chef / florist story, maybe sketch some of it out.
 
Friday: 8:30 – 9:30 coffee with Capuder (kids’ principal). 9:30 – 11:30: Work on revising “Flight” to novella-length. Clean house, get set up for evening. 7 – 10: Host OPALGA potluck.
 
*****
 
So that’s only hosting one event (good), going to four things (more than optimal, need to watch that), and lots of moving things around to make it work, which is not ideal; better to get into a routine. But it takes time to settle into things — hopefully the following week I can do a better job of protecting that 7:30 – 9:30 time slot for writing.
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Intentionality

I want to be less haphazard about my writing, more intentional, on various fronts. What I work on, when I work on it, and when I do other activities that take time away from writing / family, which have to be the main priorities.

WHAT I WRITE AND WHEN:

Part of the problem is that I write in multiple genres, which means I have to read in multiple genres and I love reading but it is time consuming, and it also works best if I immerse in a genre for at least a little while, reading at least 3-5 things, so I can start making connections between them. And when I’m jumping around between things (for both writing and reading), my brain starts getting really stressed and anxious, trying to keep track of everything, so I think focusing down would help.

So I have sent some WisCon workshopping friends the opening 15K of the new SF novel, and we’ll workshop it at WisCon at the end of May. June I’m going to dedicate to trying to finish a full draft of that novel (need at least 50K more words, but working full-time, that should be feasible.) July, I’d like to go back to the memoir; I have a ton of material that needs to be drastically reorganized and knocked into shape. August, it would be nice to actually be on vacation, before the semester starts up again in mid-August. Two weeks with no writing expectations would be good for me, I think, and I tend to get so anxious about the start of school and the summer days slipping away that I have a hard time concentrating to write anyway. That leaves May for finishing up one Wild Cards story, drafting another, and either continuing the mainstream YA novel or drafting this new middle grade fantasy novel. Or both? And then slip in short stories and food writing here and there all summer, when I need a break from books. Okay, that’s a plan.

SCHEDULE:

May: Wild Cards (2 stories due), mainstream YA novel, middle-grade fantasy, food writing

June: SF novel, short stories in that universe, food writing

July: memoir, lit fic short stories, food writing

Aug: vacation

TRAVEL:

I’ve also been thinking a lot about what takes me away from writing. I love to travel, but it’s inevitably disruptive. Maybe I need to take a break from it for a while, or at least limit it severely. Six trips / year? If there’s one to visit Kev’s parents and one to visit mine, that doesn’t leave much room for conference travel, but maybe that’s what needs to happen. I already have more than that scheduled for this year — I think 7 total at the moment, but I can put a hard lock on it now, and try to pull back in 2019.

OTHER ACTIVITIES:

Similarly, I need to be more careful about local events, esp. ones I’m hosting. I hate to say no, when there are so many interesting things that people are doing, and I want to come out and support, but time is limited. It just is. Attending one event / week, and hosting one event / month? Is that a reasonable limit? Maybe I’ll try it for the summer and see how it goes.

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Middle

Folks, there is something wrong with me. I just looked up how long a middle grade book is — about 15K – 35K — and I am having the worst temptation to try to draft one this weekend while I’m out of town. I already have ENOUGH writing projects.

I just want to write something for Kavya to read. Something with a Sri Lankan-American girl and magic in, ideally with unicorns, because she is unicorn-obsessed at the moment. I have other writing projects; I have a host of them. But the temptation to try to knock this out right now is STEEP.

I am going to stall it by reading one of her favorite middle-grade books first, The Menagerie, book 1. That’ll help, right?

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Detroit

I head to Detroit for PenguiCon tomorrow — hope to see some of you there! My schedule below (the link has a fancier version).

Friday, May 4
– 6 p.m.: Opening Ceremonies

Saturday, May 5
– 1 p.m.: Writing Excuses Podcast
– 2 p.m.: Teams & Types
– 3 p.m.: Code of Conduct
– 6 p.m.: Writing Productivity

Sunday, May 6
– 10 a.m.: Crowdfunding for Creatives
– 12 p.m.: Writing Excuses Reading
– 3 p.m.: Closing Ceremonies

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Revisioning

Thanks to Andy Wilson, Greg Bennett, Veronica Arreola, Harmony Scofield, Kat Tanaka Okopnik, Patricia Campbell, Morrisa Sherman, Eva, Greg Bennett, Swati Joshi, Carolyn Charron for their comments on my short story, “Paper Star.” It’s an odd little piece, but I am fond of it, and I finally got around to implementing their revision notes this morning (only about oh, a year and a half after they sent them, sigh).

I think I’m going to show the latest draft to Jed today, see what he thinks, whether it’s ready to go out, or maybe needs another pass through my local writing workshop. (I did the original draft long enough ago that I can’t remember if I actually showed this to them — Julie, do you remember a story about a young woman who worked in a visa processing office on Kriti?)

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OCWW

Three hours up in Wilmette teaching a writing workshop (really impressive group, brings in speakers weekly for talks, if I lived just a little closer, I would seriously think about joining them; it’s almost like a degree program without the degree, and if I had more time to run it, I’d use them as a model for starting up something similar in Oak Park).

That was followed by an hour at weekly therapy appointment, where I kind of ran out of things to say thirty minutes in. Just talked out, I think! (After three sessions, she’s going to pass me on to the psychiatrist for an ADHD evaluation. I think she’s a little dubious, which is fine; I will be content to rule it out as a possibility too.)

I had a fun time teaching the workshop and I think it went well (let’s see how much I can download about creating rich characters in a concentrated burst — a lot, it turns out!), but that kind of thing can be draining. I will now spend the rest of the day in blessed silence.

Thanks again to OCWW for having me. Several people asked if I was lecturing anywhere else in the area, and I’m afraid not, outside my UIC classes. (I *think* you can sign up as something like a grad student-at-large, but I wouldn’t swear to that.) But if there are other groups interested in having me out, do get in touch, and I’ll see if my schedule permits. I have more time over the the summer, generally.

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Avoid

I swear, the hardest thing about being a writer is starting writing. 800 words so far this morning on the new story, and I like them, but lord, the number of things I found to do before I actually started writing was ridiculous.

YMMV, but for me, it’s all about that moment when I finally make myself open the file and start to work. My avoidance behavior is EPIC. I have composed an entire cookbook, spanning a year of work, mostly to avoid opening the file with my novel.

In other completely unrelated news, heading to my third therapy appointment shortly (still a little startled that it’s covered by my HMO insurance and just a $20 co-pay each time), where I hope to focus the conversation on my work habits.

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Perennial Launch

Folks, I am THRILLED to announce that Perennial is now available for sale, direct from its small press publisher!

This little project is dear to me, and I’ll be talking more about it in the next few weeks. (Those of you who pre-ordered, oh so long ago, I’ll be shipping your books to you soon!) It’s a sweet little romance! It’s a collection of poetry! It’s a cancer memoir hidden in a romance and poetry! It’d make a nice gift for someone going through cancer treatment, I think. But mostly, it’s a book, and the first book I’ve published since 2013. EEP.

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