Writing, Editing, Marketing, Family Life: It’s All a Matter of Time

Old pocket watch and books in Low-keyHa ha, see what I did there? A Matter of Time is the name my next book. Working it into the title of this blog post was a stroke of genius, or, more likely, a sign I need more sleep.

See, like many authors, I’m discovering there just isn’t enough time. For anything, it sometimes feels.

Writing isn’t even a full-time job for me – or it isn’t supposed to be. The Mom Hat still comes first, and since I have to drive kids to and from school, it chops up my day. Not to mention in the mornings and once they’re home, my silly kiddos actually want some of my attention. My darling husband, too.

But writing could be full-time, easily. It’s trying to be. So could editing, if I had the stamina for it. Don’t even get me started on marketing – that’s a job and a half, at least.

Stack of vintage books isolated on whiteOne day last week, I vented on Facebook about feeling as if I’m never doing anything right as I stumble along this book writing/editing/publishing/marketing path, and I got back wonderful responses. Truly wonderful. I keep returning to read the responses, but Grace Burrowes‘ advice has really stuck with me. It’s advice I’ve heard from many, many other authors, as well: the only job I really need to do is write the books, write the books, write the books.

I just wish I had time and energy enough to do what I want to do with writing (and editing and marketing and…). When I have time (evenings), I’m often out of energy. When I have energy (day), I’m lucky if I get a good four hours in. Because darn if my family doesn’t want to eat, so I have to grocery shop and cook. I have to occasionally do laundry and dishes, so that we’re not eating naked off our thighs or something. I sometimes decide to pick stuff up, so that we don’t end up on an episode of Hoarders.

I’m hopelessly behind in email (not in the least because I sign up for newsletters about writing, free video courses about writing, etc., etc, but can’t find the time to read/watch them). I do get caught up in social media, I admit; I want to respond to everything and everyone, but of course, that takes time. Time I willingly give. Plus, well, yeah, I get distracted by George Takei‘s posts and cute cat videos and pictures of friends’ kids, etc.

bookdanceTime management is not one of my strong suits and never has been, so I’m sure part of this–maybe even a lot of this–is me. I’m sure I could do better.

I’m just tipping my hat today to those authors out there who seem able to do it all: write quality books, and write them quickly, edit them quickly, publish them quickly, market them astutely, keep up with social media, etc. I admire you.

Someday, I hope to be you! In the meantime, can you share your secrets?

Meanwhile, it’s back to the Editing Cave. Time, energy, or not, A Matter of Time will make its way back to the editor September 28th. Wish me luck, will you?

Adventures in Editing: I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again (Thanks, Chumbawumba)

A Man of Character
A Man of Character – A Snippet of the Real Cover. Thank you to Lankshear Design!

In January, I hired a developmental editor, Tessa Shapcott, to help me with my first book, A Man of CharacterGenerally speaking, I (and others) had been happy with the book, but I knew that to “do it right” as an indie publisher, I needed an editor’s opinion.

She gave me one. She gave me several. She gave me nearly four pages’ worth of suggestions. And they were spot on. Tessa is fabulous, people. But all those pages of suggestions meant I needed to restructure my book – move some elements to the front, delete others, add scenes, pay attention to emotional development.

I won’t lie. I wanted to bury my head in the sand. I even asked Tessa if she felt the book were worth salvaging (luckily for me, she most emphatically said YES).

So instead pulling my standard ostrich move, I got to work. It took me longer than I wanted (pesky Other Life responsibilities, plus my standard Time Managing Idiocy), but I finished that sucker, read through it again several times, made more corrections, and sent it off to Tessa for a second read-through.

Green light. WOO HOO! She liked it, felt the revisions worked well, and had just a few minor suggestions. I know there’s additional work to do after those revisions, since the next step is a line edit, but still, I was feeling on top of the world.

Last night, I was in the hot seat for my beloved critique group. A Man of Character in its newly revised form was up for review. And the critiquers did exactly what they were supposed to do, exactly what I want them to do: they critiqued it, meaning they found favor and fault in it. Lots of fault, depending on whom you asked.

I know that I have a long way to go in developing the thick skin writers need. I know that writing is rewriting. Writing is revision. And being a relative newbie to the fiction writing world, I have a lot to learn. In my head, I know all of that, accept all of that. In my head, I want to learn, learn, learn, to find out what works and what doesn’t, to grow and become better.

In my heart, I feel pain when someone challenges my baby, even when the challenges are justified, and would only lead to improving the book. In my heart (and head), I also know now it’s my turn to critique the critiques, by taking what I like and leaving the rest. And I will. I will. Just not today. Today, I’m not touching it.

It’s a roller coaster, this writing thing. It’s the highest of highs when you feel you’ve nailed that scene or that dialogue, when a beta reader tells you she loves the story, when you get positive feedback from fellow writers.

And it’s the lowest of lows, the days where you stare at the words and think they’re crap, when you get rejection after rejection from agents, when you open up your document returned to you from a critiquer and all you see are pages full of comments.

Some days I want to get off. Some days I want to ride forever.

They tell you your writing is not you. Don’t take it personally.

Does that ability come easier the longer one pursues this profession? I hope so.

In the meantime, I’m taking today to work on reading and reviewing other people’s writing. But I’ll be back at A Man of Character tomorrow. Because, warts and all, my baby is entering the world on May 26, 2015. And I’m excited.

How do you deal with the ups and downs?