That’s what my writing career is telling me.
(Actually, it’s more like five months now.)
It’s an exaggeration, yes, but not a huge one. In September, I’ll be going back to teaching full-time. Writing will no longer be my primary work focus. I am determined to still make time to write every day, even if, on a busy day, it’s just for half an hour after Edwin goes to bed. But I’ll no longer have two hours in the afternoon while Edwin naps, or half an hour while he’s engrossed in Sesame Street, or all that mental time to think about characters and plot points and blog posts while I’m watching him play. Writing will go from being a major part of my day to something I have to work hard to squeeze in. I’ve accepted these circumstances, I’ve mourned for my writing loss, and I’m ready to think about what I want to accomplish with the time I have left.
I’m trying to build a writing career, and I’ve put a lot of work into the foundation. I’ve taken several classes and read countless writing method books. I’ve created strong writing habits. I’ve experimented with different structures and styles. I’ve produced a lot of work, some of which has been published. I’m adding those “published” bricks to the foundation and starting to build walls. I know what I want my structure to look like. I know how I want it to feel inside. I know where I want it to go.
I don’t just want to be a writer. I want to write books. Write them, and get them published, or possibly self-publish. This is my dream, my goal. I want to see my books on a bookshelf at Barnes and Noble, in my local library, with a page on Amazon, a button to click and deliver to Kindle. I want to read an excerpt at a book signing. I can picture myself getting off the phone and screaming to my husband, “I just sold my first book!” I’ve already written the acknowledgement page in my head. I’m even willing to practice my signature. (I have really bad handwriting.)
So if that’s my dream, that needs to be my ultimate focus. And it is, for the most part- I make sure to spend time with my novel(s) every day, whether it’s writing a query for Triangle Fire, or doing research and outlines for Klondike Girls (those are working titles). But sometimes, I let other things take me away from devoting as much time as my dream deserves.
This blog, for example.
Up until last week, I worked on this blog every day. My posts usually take a couple of days to write, and I’m always tweaking things behind the scenes. Blogging takes up a lot of mental time, because I need new post ideas three times a week, and once I have an idea, I need to find a fresh angle, an interesting take, an opening line. It’s easy to let blogging take over all my writing time for the day. I also check my site stats far too often, wanting to know how my posts are doing, how many new visitors I got that day, where they were referred from. I should care about those things, but they’re not my ultimate goal. I don’t want to be a blogger. I want to be a writer who blogs.
After deciding that I needed to restructure my writing priorities and devote my time accordingly, I had to figure out what I wanted to do with the blog. For a very short time, I considered shutting it down entirely. But that would have been way too extreme, because I LIKE blogging. A lot. It’s an opportunity to write short essay-style pieces, on topics I like, that reach my audience instantly. That’s really different from the work I’m doing on book writing, and it’s exciting. So I knew I didn’t want to stop. But I did decide that I’m being too strict with my schedule, putting too much pressure on myself. In the future, I may not be posting three times a week. I will post at least once a week, and possibly more. I’ve also reevaluated what I want the blog to be about. More on that in the next post.
What’s your dream? Are you working toward it, using the best of your ability? Or do you sometimes let other things- maybe even closely-related things- get in the way?