Welcome, welcome, to today’s edition of Sunday, My Prints Will Come! If you’ve never been here on a Sunday before, well, Sundays are for writers round these parts. I know, I know. I cheated a bit this week, what with the pitch talk and all the biz shtick. Whoops. I’ll give you a shiny present this week. Or something.
Those of you who have been diligently reading all of my flailing lately (which has had few linear qualities to it, for which I apologise), you’ll know Spouse and I were on the brink of our own fiscal cliff.
Couple that with me having bronchitis that morphed into pneumonia, my grandmother’s passing, and sneaking up on the year anniversary of a beloved cousin’s death, I haven’t been in the best state of humanity. In fact, I’ve been a bit like Stefan Salvatore trying not to drink human blood, but without all the push-ups and veiny-face. Well. Some of the veiny-face.
That led to a tearful conversation with my friend Kristin over Gchat the other day in which I saw my future splayed out in front of me like someone had stretched it out on a torture rack. I was going to have to go find a 9-5 job, one that paid more than I’m making now and had lots of benefits. I was going to have to still work where I do on weekends for extra money. We were going to have to declare bankruptcy and wouldn’t be able to buy a home until we were 40 and our kids were in middle school.
And I was going to have to stop writing.
Right about at that point, my tear-splotched face did this:
I thought about the last time I had a more typical job. How exhausted I was. How anxious all the time. How I (already a night owl) couldn’t sleep until 4 AM because work stressed me out so much and then I had to get up at 6 and drive an hour to get there. I’d come home — a couple times a week as late as 10 or 11 PM and just fall apart.
Until I had a car accident and got knocked flat for five weeks. Then I started writing again.
The writing? If you go back to the beginning — the veeeeery beginning, which probably only N.E. White and Kana Tyler remember — you’ll see I picked it up again right around then. Writing got me back on my feet. I picked up my then-WIP again. I started exercising. Healing in more ways than one.
I quit the stressful job and got something that was more physically taxing, but more flexible in hours. Waiting tables ain’t glamourous, but shhhhh, I make as much as I did teaching.
And somewhere in there, I realised I had to see what writing could be for me. It was a dream I kept clutched tight to my chest. So tightly there were sweat marks and wrinkles in the surface of it.
The thought of going back to the way things were before, with me frazzled and miserable and so sleep deprived I cried at falling maple seeds — that about crumbled me. When I got off the computer with Kristin, I fell into Spouse’s arms and bawled.
I don’t know if there’s a time in my life I’ve ever felt like such a failure. 28, with a degree that plunged me into $50,000 of debt, one year of grad school for a job I couldn’t take that lumped another $15,000 on top of it, a car loan, credit card debt, and an apartment threatening us with eviction.
For about ten minutes, I felt like I’d been running in place for a decade.
Ten years. I could have gotten a job waiting tables straight out of high school, and I could be better off financially than I am right now with a degree.
I graduated in 2008, officially the Worst Year in the last oh, eighty, for that to happen. And with a history degree, my best option was pretty much a server’s apron or another three years of university and another $50-100,000 in debt.
For about ten minutes, my brain went to a very depressed place.
And then something snapped.
It didn’t happen immediately. I didn’t just perk up and start singing Kumbaya at the top of my voice.
I haven’t seen the writing through yet. I’m not done. I still have a few subs out (thank you, Kristin, for that reminder). They’re not no’s yet. I still haven’t heard back about Pitch Wars. And I have another 30 or so agents on my list to query. It’s not over. And if not this book, then maybe the next one.
Spouse got the mail. And there was a hand-addressed envelope in the post box. It contained a very generous gift from a family member I haven’t seen in ages. A total and complete shock. It was enough to make sure that we’ll get through this month once added to our income. It will probably even allow us to have a very nice Christmas dinner.
The point is that I’ve got to keep trying. I am going to wrap up my WIP this week and then put it aside for a month. In that time, I’m going to do a couple things:
Send out some more queries for Shrike.
There are a few agents I haven’t queried yet who I’m really excited about. One represents a fellow Montana author whose books are on sale in the grocery store we always shopped at in Florence, Montana. Another is nuts about urban fantasy and might be a good fit.
Go back to the craft.
No, not the 90s-style Robin Tunney and Fairuza Balk The Craft. Writing. There’s a new book out by Donald Maass that I want to read. I’ll probably go through Breakout Novel again too, and continue with The Art of War for Fiction Writers by James Scott Bell. Oh, and of course Margie Lawson. I will keep trying to get better. And better. Until agents fight over me like a juicy lamb chop thrown to a sled team at the end of the Iditarod.
Plot the new book.
I’ve been throwing around an idea for a magical realism book for a while now. While the current WIP is in its out-of-sight-out-of-mind phase, I’ll sit down and flesh out this concept a bit more. I have the log line and query already (well, early incarnations of both). We’ll go from there.
Pick up shifts at work.
This might sound counter-productive for all the other things, but if I want to go to any conferences this year, they will have to be budgeted for months ahead. Meaning now. If I can pick up two extra shifts per week and put half the money in savings, I should be able to pull it off AND add extra to our bank account.
So that’s the plan. Always good to have a plan, right? Keep your eyes on the progress bar to the right — if it doesn’t hit completion by the fifteenth, rain down fury.
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