Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dreams and Sacrifice (Am I Using Parenthesis Right?)

The beginning of the school year is always a dodgy time for me. Any activity not associated with the beginning of school usually comes to a grinding halt. (If you could see my lawn, as meager as it is, you would understand what I am saying.) The last few years have been difficult too, between the switchover to the Common Core (I'm pretty fluent in it, but by no means an expert despite working with it for three years now) and the inundation of the Literacy Mafia (or by their corporate name: Pearson). Between moving and setting up a classroom (they moved me BACK to my old room), prepping for the classes and learning the new initiative, there isn't much room left in my brain for anything beyond school. Couple that with having two kids (the house looks like a tornado hit it on the inside) now, chaos reigns supreme. But with that comes some decisions about sacrifice.

I want to be a successful published novelist. That is one of my life's dreams. (Well, the whole being the starting fullback for the San Francisco 49ers didn't work out. And neither did being a Lothario of super hot, super rich celebrities. I suppose I could still try that stand up comedy thing...but, I digress.) I realized in order for any of that to happen, I would need to sacrifice a little. (My Twitter habit hasn't helped in that distraction.)

Usually, sacrificing for my writing came at the expense of sleeping. I'd stay up late (I'm something of night owl. Actually, you know how they say that you aren't a "morning person?" I'm not a middle of the afternoon person...if that makes sense) when I was really enthralled with a writing project. I can remember vividly doing a rewrite a few years back at the request of an agent and staying up consistently past 1am to work. (Everyone's in bed by then.) I also would usually shut down the mechanism from the end of August until maybe December or even the beginning the next year. I realized that if I want to be a successful writer, this was not an acceptable arrangement. I needed to sacrifice more. Even though I'm exhausted and beat down (I teach Freshman, so let's just say the number of gray hairs on my head has grown by a hundredfold in the last two years), I need to take some time to read and write. I ask my kids to do so, why shouldn't I do the same. (Modeling is a huge part of my teaching style now.)

I'm obsessed with writer's routines and long for one. (I've blogged about that before) So, I've decided to set a little time each night/day to write. Only an hour a day, if I can do more, than I do, if not, then at least I logged in an hour. It helps that I have a project I really like and am finding a groove on. I'm putting it together like a pitch to my agent to see if he likes what I am doing with it. (I'm playing with genre and the narrative style a little bit. Nothing I want to share yet, but it's...different for me.)

I'm about 5k in and grooving. (My writing tracking has fallen to shit, so I'm going to try and fix that tonight if I can so I can track my words.) It's contemporary and first person, two very different things for me, and I'm really enjoying it. (I've blogged a little about it before as well.) I abandoned the idea of writing it long hand. It's a romantic notion, but too difficult considering my circumstances.

My goal is to try and bang out about 20k by the end of the month. Do a little more in October so I can finish in November. It's ambitious, but doable. I'm hoping to have about 30 pages for my submission to my agent in the next week or so to see what he thinks of the stylistic thing I'm trying. I'm envisioning the project being about 75k. When I finish that, I think I may try my hand at a novelette in the Jaiman world then move on to the abandoned project I mentioned in that other blog while planning another plot monkey I have jumping around in my head that requires some research.

Then again, I may just watch a lot of college football and drink beer.