I've been on a bit of a roller coaster this past year. My older daughter has been doing a wonderful job trying to overcome an eating disorder. She wasn't ready to go to our local high school though, so she's home with me and our pups, and doing virtual school. We decided that Lolly and Ruby will be her school mascots -the Massive Mastiff and Regal Beagle.
It's great spending all this extra time with my daughter. But between doctor appointments, bark-fests when my daughter takes a break to play with the pups, and daily interruptions I never used to have, I've been working a lot slower than usual. Taking several weeks or longer to do a round of revisions that I could normally knock out in less than a week was frustrating at first...but I've found that one perk is that I can see my manuscripts in a different light when I have the chance to really dig into them.
I definitely used to spend too much time writing (and doing writing related things). I'm heavily involved in so many things--From the Mixed-Up Files...of Middle-Grade Authors, I'm the FL SCBWI Listserv editor, an administrator on Verla Kay's Blueboards, I'm in five critique groups...plus all the time I spend on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. But now I feel like I haven't had enough quality writing time, which makes it scary to participate in challenges (if I say I'm going to do something, I feel beyond awful if I'm not successful). I've thought about it, and I'm still determined to do NaNoWriMo and PiBoIdMo in November. And I really, really hope I complete both! But this year, I can't put my entire life on hold to do them. I need to find some balance. Yes, I'll probably stock up on extra underwear because the laundry mountain tends to get out of control in November. And I'm sure I'll sneak into my office quite a bit and probably will say no to some events in order to have extra writing time...but I'm not going to shackle myself to my computer. Helping my daughter through her rough battle with an eating disorder made me appreciate my family and friends even more than before. I'm not sure how I'll find the right balance...but I'm determined to do it!
I have a huge to-do list I'd love to tackle before November 1st. I just took a plotting workshop with my amazing mentor, Joyce Sweeney, and had a huge 'aha' moment for my MG, so I'd love to finish running the revision through the entire manuscript and have a chance to read through the full in one sitting by then. And there's another MG I'd love to go through. Plus, I love the plot clock that Joyce uses, and for the first time, plan to loosely plot out my NaNo novel (I usually have at least a rough idea about the beginning, end, a few events, and character sketches ahead of time...but now I want to make sure I have all 4 acts, the potential inciting incident and binding point, etc. in mind...even though I know it's possible my characters will take me in another direction once I get to know them better.) I also want to get as many picture books written for the 12 x 12 challenge by then (and hopefully get the rest into rough draft form by the end of the year). I only wrote 5 out of the 12 drafts this year, and have so many great ideas from last years' PiBoIdMo begging to be written. And I have crits to get back to some amazing writers by the end of this month, too. I have a feeling I won't make all of these goals by Halloween...but I'll do what I can and make sure I tackle the most important ones first.
The thought of signing up for a challenge and not being able to complete it terrifies me. But for years, I've told people that they're winners in these challenges, even if they don't make their goal...because they've produced much more than they probably would have without the challenge. And I totally meant it...for them. So why is it hard for me to believe that's true for me as well? I always try my best in everything I do, but if life gets in the way of me completing my challenges this year, I don't want to feel awful about it. I'll do my best and try to find a good balance between writing, my family, and writing related activities...and see what happens.
How do you balance writing, family, and everything else in your life?