Writing Under Pressure

I’m so far behind on my blog posts because I’m rewriting the proposal for my fourth book…while doing the edits for my second book, while slogging through my MG contemporary novel, while reading writing magazines and subscription sites to help improve my craft, while trying to find an agent, while building my platform on 3 different social media sites, while piling up ebooks I’ll never get a chance to read, while trying to get some housework done, while squeezing in some gardening time, while staying up too late trying to get more stuff done–and, oh yeah, there’s the eating and sleeping thing.

It’s no wonder we feel like we can’t keep up: we literally CAN’T keep up! I could have a fulltime secretary, chef, housekeeper, and personal assistant, and they’d all be busy all the time.

So, the question becomes how do we prioritize the half a million things we all have to do each day in order to actually get our writing done? For me, writing is my fulltime job. I don’t have kids, and my husband works 40 hours a week in another town. So, I’m quite blessed to have long stretches of time during the day by myself. And yet, I am still just as busy–perhaps MORE so–as I was when I worked fulltime retail.

It’s no secret that the demands placed on us nowadays are ridiculous; many of us are highly stressed, sleep-deprived, and overwhelmed by all we need and want to do. Sometimes, even my hobby (gardening) takes too much time and effort; instead I sprawl on the couch and burn precious time watching reruns of old TV shows like Magnum, PI and crime documentaries. My clever brain tells me I’m “doing research” when Criminal Minds or Forensic Files is on.

Now, you people who are highly organized and in denial about your overwhelm will tell me that I could get more REAL work done if I turned off the TV–and you’re not wrong. But by 2am my brain is pretty much mush, and I can’t be rattling around doing housework while my husband is asleep. The solution comes down to prioritizing what’s most important TO ME. So, while I acknowledge that agents like to see big platforms before taking on a nonfiction writer, I know that I’m not great at social media and that it’s not something I enjoy: so it gets pushed onto a back burner. My house is a mess and will stay that way until the long Michigan winter arrives and keeps me out of the garden for the next 5 months. My proposal is front and center right now because I spent a lot of money to go to that national writer’s conference and several of the agents there asked to see my work. The edits on the second book have a deadline attached, but they can be done at 11pm after my husband goes to bed–and before my brain becomes cold maple syrup.

Of course, daily catastrophes will arise and must be attended to (the flat tire, the unexpected trip to the doctor, the dash to the pet store for cat food), but, for me, the only way to cope is to compartmentalize and deal with one thing at a time, while doing my best to see to the most important demands first. So, I may miss lunch on most days, and there are definitely too many dust bunnies in the corners, but my career is flourishing and the cat is getting fed…and sometimes that’s just the best we can do.

Writer’s Digest Conference 2019

I’ve just returned from #WDC19 in NYC, and what an experience it was. First, thanks to the organizers, sponsors, presenters, and agents–and everyone else involved in the production of this event.

My first national writer’s conference did not disappoint! As a writer of nonfiction, I sometimes feel overlooked at conventions, which often seem to concentrate their offerings on fiction topics and–recently–self publishing. Not so at #WDC19! My days were filled with proposal classes, meeting other writers, and honing the pitch.

Ah, the pitch. I was signed up for the first session of the day, intending to head-off my nerves as well as hit the agents while they were fresh. Apparently, everybody ELSE thought the same thing! The line for the first session stretched the length of the hallway and out of site around the corner.

Line for the first agent pitching session.

I was able to pitch 6 agents and got requests for the full proposal from 3 and the proposal and ms from a fourth. That fourth was my dream agent, the first person I pitched. She bowled me over with her enthusiasm for the project, and I’m ecstatic to be able to send her my work.

The price of attendance, however, was beyond fiscal: I contracted a nasty cold, which manifested itself the day I flew home. As I write this, a box of Kleenex and a package of Cold-EEze sit nearby. Still, totally worth it for the conference experience.

More later. For now, I must take myself off to rest. Thank you @writersdigestmagazine for a great experience.

New book!

Sorry to have been away for so long! I finished the manuscript for my third book A Guide to Superstitions and Mythology (from Quarto), which will be published in fall of 2020.

My second book, entitled Signs and Symbols of the World has been pushed back to Feb 2020 for its release. However, it is available for pre-order from Amazon right now (link below).

I’ll be at the Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC from Aug 22-25. I’m looking to meet new people so please talk to me!

Signs & Symbols of the World: Over 1,001 Visual Signs Explained https://www.amazon.com/dp/1577151860/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_FgdvDb18KHE4M