I’m 41. Huzzah.
Sorry. Usually I’m far more enthusiastic about birthdays, but yesterday, on my birthday, I came down with some sort of nasty sinus infecting crud and have ended up spending most of the day on the couch answering e-mail and watching Scooby Doo with the youngest child. Not a pretty sight, I can assure you.
But since I am just turned 41, I though I’d take a moment today to look at what I’ve done so far with my writing career and then discuss what I want to do during Year 41. I consider my writing career to have started on my 34th birthday, in spite of the fact that I had already published 3 short stories prior to that. Those 3 short stories were written and published years apart, so I wasn’t so much a writer as a wannabe who had somehow managed to get into print. Writers, in my opinion, are people who write every day, and work to get themselves published. And I did not really start doing that until the day I turned 34, which coincidentally also happened to be the day after I came home from the hospital with my first born child.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll repeat it now. Until I became a parent, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I worked at various jobs, all of which I hated. I spent 11 years in the Army Reserves. I had quit my last job to “find myself” as it were, and after 2 years didn’t have much to show for it. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do or how I wanted to do it. But boy howdy, when I came home with that screaming bundle of joy, I certainly figured it out then. The urge to write was overwhelming, and it was prompted in part by a) the fact that I realized if I wanted to do something with my life, I needed to start now, and b) post-partum hormones and a need to distract myself somehow from the pain of breastfeeding a squalling infant around the clock.
Writing = Ass In Chair. I think we all know that equation. With breastfeeding, I suddenly had a lot of ass-in-chair time, and thus I decided to put it to good use and write. Now seven years later, I have written nearly 150 short stories, 135 of those for the Heat Flash Erotica Podcast; one novel; and produced a weekly audio show for the last 2 1/2 years. I also have a weekly webcomic that I write and draw, plus another comic that I’m restoring and publishing online. I get invited to 4 conventions a year to be a writing/podcasting guest. I’ve been in half a dozen anthologies. And probably most surprisingly, I know quite a few e-publishers by first name. At this point in my writing career, I am out of the slush pile, well-known enough to have a small fan base, and I get the occasional invite to participate in various anthologies and projects. It’s not a bad place to be, I have to admit.
So what do I want to do with the next year? Where do I want to go? On one hand, I’d like to step up on a few things – more novel writing, more publications, maybe even a couple more convention spots. On the other hand, I’d like to tone things down a notch. I am still, after all, a stay-at-home mom with two small children to take care of. And I’d like very much to have the time to enjoy my life and indulge in a few hobbies and passions. Can I balance those what I’ve got in those two hands? This is the year I intend to find out.
Here’s the plan. I’ve been podcasting a short story a week for the last 2 1/2 years. That’s been great in terms of getting my name out and building an audience, but it doesn’t allow me any time left over to write novels. And boy howdy, do I have some novels I want to write. And podcast as well. I’ve talked to some publishers I work with and they have said they would be interested in publishing a novel I podcast. That’s always great to hear, because I think podcast novels are a great way to build an audience for current and future work. So the plan is that at the end of the third season of Heat Flash – that’s this September – I’ll wrap up the short stories, take a bit of a hiatus, and get to work on the first of what I hope to be many a string of novels. Then I’ll come back in the new year and podcast that novel a chapter at a time. Taking time off from podcasting will obviously cause me to lose some audience members, but it’s a necessity at this point. I swear to you, I am on the go from dawn to midnight, and there simply is no spare time in my day to write anything more than what I’m already doing. Even if I stopped blogging and cartooning, I still don’t think there’d be enough time. And I’ve already given up TV, so what else is there to cut out of my schedule? Sleep?
Ah, sleep. That’s been another problem. I don’t get enough of it. I’ve been getting up at 5AM for the last couple of years, and it’s starting to get harder and harder. So I’ve decided that I need more and not less. The 5AM wake-up call is going away for a while. Right now I’m thinking 6AM might work, though if I still find myself tired getting up that early, I’m willing to stay in bed until 7AM. In lieu of working early in the morning, the plan is to get the kids to bed earlier and write in the evenings. It’s a switch I can live with, and one that will put my schedule in synch with the Hubster’s. I married the man, I would like to at least be awake when he comes to bed so I can kiss him goodnight.
Beyond that, I am in general trimming some things out of my schedule to make more time for writing and family. My post on Oh Get A Grip this Friday will be my last there. I’ll miss participating on OGG, but I need that time back. And once I get through the current novella I’m writing, I’m not picking up any new writing projects until I get past the third season of Heat Flash. I’m hoping that this summer, I’ll be able to squeeze in a little extra work time in the afternoons, since I won’t have to be at the bus stop at 3:30PM. The kids are quite capable of entertaining themselves in the afternoon while I work, I know that from previous summers.
And that’s the general plan for next year. Start clearing out my workload, get a little extra sleep, and switch over from short stories to novels come September. I think it will work, and hopefully getting more novels published will mean more book sales. Nothing wrong with that, right?
Thoughts and opinions on my plan are welcome. You can leave a comment below 😉