The Writing Life: Managing Priorities

Life has recently gotten a lot busier for me. I’ve started a new job. I’ve set a final editorial schedule for my next book. I’ve got a panel to moderate at Denver Comic Con. Each of these three things takes up time, and mental energy. I have a lot to learn, a lot to do, and a lot to research. Time, something I had plenty of just a few weeks ago, is now something to be tightly rationed and used well. That’s a challenge I embrace, first because I have no choice, and second because I wasn’t making the most of my time off before, so having this structure to work around may actually be to my advantage. Yes, that is what I’m telling myself, and for now, I totally believe it!

Having a job and income has enabled me to set my editorial schedule in stone. I believe in working with an editor, and paying a professional for their work – I tried to save money by foregoing editing for a number of years, and wasted a lot of time in the process. Eventually I hired an editor, and almost immediately realized the massive benefit to my writing (which remained my writing) it represented. I regard editorial services as a necessary step to producing a polished piece of work I’m proud of. Now maybe after four or five more books I will have learned a lot more about all the ins and outs of editing and feel I don’t need quite as much assistance, but even then I suspect I’ll keep using the service, just work through it faster, utilizing the lessons I’ve learned. I believe outside editing is indispensible for me, because as much as I might wish it, I’m no Joseph Conrad, turning out perfect copy on demand. If even he did that!

I’m looking at developmental, line, and copy editing passes to be completed by the end of November 2018. So I’d be planning to publish The Killer and The Dead by the end of this calendar year. During the periods of time when my editor is working on that book, I plan to use those weeks starting in on the first pass of the next novel – the more I get done of that, the better shape I will be in to get the next book out during calendar year 2019. I think the goal of a book a year is not unreasonable, though it is a lot of work.

Of course between now and July, when the developmental edit is scheduled to start, I will need to juggle the new job, finishing and tidying up the first draft, and prepping for and then moderating the panel at Denver Comic Con. And of course continuing to write these here blogs, and trying to keep up with what other people are writing and doing. And and and… With less time available, the emphasis will be on using the free hours I get productively, being able to plug in and go when I have the chance. Everything will be about priorities, what has to be done now versus what can wait a while; when to try to carve out time for longer tasks, when to make sure I don’t slack off and miss out on a chance to get some work done on a blog or panel research.

Having multiple hard deadlines has always tended to focus my mind usefully. I can’t say I’ve always hit them, but I learned severe lessons from the occasions I did not, and have avoided missing one since. And of course time and tide wait for no man, and I’ve let enough time pass that being forced to work harder now to keep up with my schedule is to be welcomed: if I don’t think I can afford to let up, then maybe I won’t.

One book a year is the plan, with life, love, and travel thrown in. And here we go.

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