A couple of days ago, I overheard my husband talking on the phone with his brother. He was updating him on the 'writing' side of my life. "She's just finishing up revisions. Then it starts all over again." Meaning as soon as I mailed in this book, I'd start writing the next. He was right. I knew this, but his take on the process made me feel like a hamster on one of those exercise wheels. Sort of going and going with no rest in sight. If I hop off, the wheel will continue to spin and I'll be forever trying to catch up or, horrors, standing in the wood shavings, immobile, as the wheel that is my career peters out.
I have read and heard many times that given the competetive market, a new or even midlist author needs to write two books a year to really launch or secure (as secure as one can be in the arts) a career. I've been doing just that since 2003. Writing two novel-length books a year. I'm contracted (thank God!) to continue that pace through 2008. For me, it's a frantic, admittedly stressful pace, but I am hoping that it will eventually pay off. I'm hoping that the longer I do it, the easier it will become. I'm hoping I'll learn how to balance a social and professional life. Between working a day gig and writing, I've pretty much forgotten what a feels like to relax. If I do break away, there's always that anxious feeling of falling behind on work related projects.
At his blog, author J.A. Konrath offers constant insight and advice for other writers. A recent post Time to Make Time (9/20) drove home the knowledge that I am not alone in my struggle to keep up. Konrath wrote:
...I've heard about writers who have things called "day jobs" and "families" and apparently these can take up a lot of time. So can "vacations" and "leisure" and "sleep."
But how can you fit any of that in when you're:
*Writing your next book
*Revising your previous book
*Updating your website
*Doing your blog
*Going to conferences and conventions
*Dropping in bookstores
*Sending out your newsletter
*Establishing a web presence
Well, the answer is: you can't.
Oddly, I felt a little better reading that. I'm not alone and, hey, hello, I'm human. Konrath then offered a few tips on how to handle, well, being overwhelmed. I need to go back and read them again . . . over and over.
My point (yes, I do have one) is for any writer who is as driven as me and decides to write multiple projects a year. If you think you can write a book in four months, allow for six months in the contract. If you need six months to write it ask for eight. Why? Because all of those things Konrath listed above will come into play and eat up writing time. Per recent contracts, I allowed myself six months to write one book. Reasonable, I thought. Except it's yet to work out that way. When all was said and done (or not done) I ended up with a window of 4-5 months to write a story begining to end. As of today I am finally free of revsisions on a previous book and find myself left with exactly 4.5 months to write the next one.
Well, at least I'm consistent. And I know I can do it, because I have done it. Still, there's no stopping. No resting between projects. Not just now. I'm not complaining. I'm living my dream. I'm a little winded, but not beaten. Forget the Energizer Bunny. I'm the Motivated Hamster.