Sunday, March 29, 2015

Finding balance.

James Jordan | flickr.com
Last weekend was Ostara, the Pagan celebration of the vernal equinox. Spiritually, at least, if not in reality, the spring and fall equinoxes are the two days of the year on which daylight and darkness are of equal length. On those two days, the dark is supposed to be balanced with the light.

Pagans take that as a signal to try to find balance in their own lives. And I'm trying. Really, I'm trying. (All together now: "Yes, you're very trying.")

I'm working on a sweater right now that I'm dying to get off the needles. It's short-sleeved but tunic length, and so I won't have many more opportunities to wear it this season. (Although if the weather keeps shilly-shallying around about turning springlike here in the mid-Atlantic, I could get another month or so out of it. Thirty degrees at 9:00 a.m. today? Really?) But see, the problem is that I'm also supposed to be editing Dragon's Web, and drafting a rough outline for the book that comes next. And cleaning the house. And so on.

I've mentioned before that when I get into first-draft mode, I seem to work best by holing up in my apartment and writing for long stretches of time. If the writing is on fire and the words are coming easily, I can knock out a 50,000 word novel in three weeks this way, even with a full-time job.

But that practice doesn't leave much time for participating in real life. I tend to surface after doing that first draft and blink owlishly at the world, as if I've been in a dark cave and am just now coming into the light. And then I'll pick up a knitting project while the first draft ripens, and go at that every night until it's done. And any marketing I end up doing for my books is more or less an afterthought.

So with Dragon's Web, I decided not to set myself a hard-and-fast deadline. I decided to start the writing when I started it, avoid pushing myself to write every day, and finish whenever the book was done. Yeah, well, that gave me a little too much latitude. I found myself writing only every couple of days, together with one really long session on the weekends, and a lot of frittering around in between. It felt like it took me forever to get that book done. And even though I've had the edits back from my editor for several days, I've been stalling on addressing them.

I guess some people can live like that, but I hate it. I hate having stuff hanging over my head, undone. Whether it's a book or a sweater or some other project, I want to get it done and get it off my plate.

Which is why this sweater is driving me crazy right now. It's almost done -- all I have to do is knit the buttonhole band and the sleeve edgings, sew on the buttons, and weave in the ends. I could have finished it today -- but I had the edits for the book, and the outline for the next book, and this blog post to take care of first. The good news is that once I hit "publish" on this post, I'll have all of that done.

All of which is to say that I'm still trying to find a balance of writing, knitting, and real life that works for me. I know I'm task-oriented and deadline-oriented, so I've signed up for the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo. The structure should help me stick to the task better, and the deadline should keep me working toward the goal. But with any luck, I'll remember to come up for air once in a while, too.

It also means that I need to have the sweater done by Tuesday night at the latest. So if you'll excuse me....

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Oh, right. I guess I should tell you that I'm aiming to release Dragon's Web sometime in May, with the follow-up book of the duology then coming out in June. I've never released two books back-to-back like this before. It should be interesting.

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These moments of bloggy balance have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.
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