I Am NOT a Machine

Hi folks! I realize I haven’t been posting regularly, or at all, but I swear I’m going to get better at that. Due in part, actually, to the topic of this post.

But before I get to that, I have a quick update:

VISIONS OF DARKNESS is coming along nicely. I’ve now gone through two rounds of CP (critique partner) feedback and am going to start draft 4 on August 1st. I’m super excited to start this next draft because there are some BIG changes coming, including fleshing out some of my characters (including our love interest!) and adding five new scenes. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m feeling pretty confident that this draft will really push the story to where it needs to be.

Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the point of this blog post.

I realized something last night, as I was leaving my Day Job (oh, did I mention I found that elusive day job? I did! Hurray for being to eat while I’m still sans agent and sans book deal). I realized something important. I am not a machine.

Let me repeat that, since I think it’s still sinking in for me.

I am not a machine.

That may sound like a no-brainer, so let me explain. This month, I’ve been juggling a lot of things: revising VoD, writing a new novel (well, the first half) during Camp NaNo, going to writing critique groups/workshops twice a week, and adjusting to my new job. That’s a lot of things. And me being who I am, I want to be perfect at all of those things.

Go ahead, you can laugh. I know it’s ridiculous.

I also felt like I had something to prove. To whom you ask? I haven’t the slightest idea. Perhaps myself.

You see, I wanted to prove I could set goals and meet them. Which, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. It BECOMES a bad thing when you set so many goals you forget to live your life! Part of this desire to “prove” things was wanting to prove to myself that I could handle the pressure of having real, external deadlines from an agent or publisher while maintaining a day job. The answer to that, is yes.

Every revision goal I’ve set for myself I’ve met or finished early.

But what I was trying to do, you see, was have two or three projects going at once, and still expecting to complete them on the same deadline I would give myself if I only had ONE thing happening.

So, yeah, that didn’t work out so well.

And so, this rambling post brings us to what happened last night. I was getting ready to leave work, debating between working on my Camp NaNo novel (for which I needed to write another 9K words before July 31st to “win”) or actually letting myself relax and read a book.

I know, huge luxury there, reading a book.

Anyway, I was trying to figure out just how many words I could get out of myself in one night (I knew I could definitely do 3K, maybe 4K, and hopefully 5K) and then it hit me. I didn’t NEED to win Camp NaNo. Right now, my writer heart is with VISIONS OF DARKNESS. This new project feels flat in comparison (which I think is mostly a matter of it being a first draft and not a nicely polished revised version). I knew what I needed to do to make the new project sparkle (which may or may not have included killing off a character) but I decided something really important.

I am not a machine.

It’s really okay if I don’t win Camp NaNo. It’s really okay, and encouraged even, to find time, to make time, to read novels. (It is a sort of research after all.) And so, I decided to shelve the new WIP (work in progress) for now. I’m going to spend the rest of July reading books and creating my attack plan for the next set of revisions. It’s going to be awesome, a lot of work, but awesome.

And those hectic weeks and nights fighting to reach a seemingly impossible deadline? Those can wait until I actually have a real deadline. Until then, I think it’s okay to make time to read, and visit family, and you know, have a life.

So tell me: do you pile too much on your plate? How do you know when you need to back off or forge ahead? Leave me a comment and let me know!

-Isabel