Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Coming Up for Air

In that way that happens sometimes, writing (my own stuff) seems to have slipped to the back burner. It was a sneaky transition. One minute, I was cheering on the roof as I tossed my beta draft in ten directions. The next, I was frantically stalking my email. And then, finally, I convinced myself to give it a bit of time.

I don't do well with "bits of time." I fill them. And, oh boy, did I fill them. Work swelled, turning from an editorial assistant gig into a fairly well-paid writing gig. For someone who thought the end of teaching was going to be the end of steady income, this was a delightful surprise. It's been a wonderful, if busy ride.

Then there's derby. I love it, of course. And I let it fill in whatever remained of my time. I volunteered, and created, and brainstormed. If I wasn't working, I was either skating or thinking about ways to improve the team's business. Every spare second that wasn't spent on work or the kids went to derby. And that, too, was great...for a while.

It was great until it all started to feel like a machine that required (rather than desired) my constant and unwavering attention. I will say, I have the capacity to get a LOT of shit done. But when it's time to breathe and breathing isn't really possible, it's a pretty harsh reality check. The last half of July was essentially one long run of impossible decisions where my options were to disappoint person A or person B, both of whom assumed I would pull through. I was over-committed to everything, and barely sleeping. I tried to gently set limits, and they were bulldozed in every way. I heard my share of snide remarks, and every single one made me wonder why I didn't just quit volunteering for things and disappear into a cave of work and reading and literally anything enjoyable where I wouldn't have to deal with people. It sucked. 

It especially sucked when I got the familiar nagging urge to return to my book. Not only could I NOT return to my book, I couldn't see a spot on the calendar when I could begin to convince myself it would be possible. By this point, I actually had a pile of fully reviewed beta drafts (the very thing I'd been stalking my inbox for before) waiting on me. On two occasions I sat down to try to work something out--to try to sift through beta comments. On both occasions, my phone exploded with poorly-timed messages about problems that could only be solved by...you guessed it...applying more of my time to a thing that wasn't writing.

So, yes. Something had to give.

GenCon was this past weekend. I've never gone in so completely unprepared. I packed the morning of our departure, one hand on my mouse, one hand blindly tossing crap in a bag. I'm surprised I even had clothes when we got there. I don't know what I expected, but I think I just hoped to catch sight of Patrick Rothfuss and play a few games. Not quite what I got. 

GenCon felt like coming up from an extended dive. I was surrounded by writers talking about writing, the industry, the books I haven't had a chance to touch in a while. It was all just THERE, waiting for me. Yes, it was just as hectic as real life. The schedule was packed with panels and group events...but it was like I opened a box and unexpectedly saw my favorite parts of myself waiting there all "Hey, remember how this is what you love? Where did you go?"

I left a wee bit drunk on the whole thing. 

I'm working to clear some schedule space now. It is the only possible option. I'm sure disappointing plenty of people is going to be part of it, but I think it's time to be selfish. Living like July is not a sustainable model. If I try, I'm going to go batshit crazy insane and end up in like...Canada, living in a tree.

My favorite season is about to roll in. When autumn comes, I don't want to be rubbing my blurry eyes and pouring caffeine into my veins. I want to be sipping chai lattes and typing a Macy scene from an armchair at Boston Stoker. I want to be revising my short stories and cringing at rejection letters. I want to see my kiddo and attend his school events without wondering what that's going to mean for my concrete 8am-midnight schedule. I want to have a life again, not chase a to do list that never ends.

So...yeah. If you wonder where I am, that's where. I'm sorry if you need something from me that I'm not able to give. But please don't be offended if I stop apologizing. Even that is getting very old.

Anyway, by happy accident, this weekend of reawakened writer desires HAPPENED to be the kickoff for this year's NYC Midnight Flash Fiction contest. Last year, with some quantity of luck and great prompts, I managed fourth place overall. I have no such expectations for this year, but I do plan to have a hell of a lot of fun. Even if I get totally ill-suited-to-me prompts like Romantic Comedy. Which I did in round one. 

Posting the entry momentarily. 

Then...I think I'll spend the evening reading. 

'Til next time,
- Meg