2014 has been a busy year so far! Mostly it’s a good-busy, and I hope you can say the same. In addition to being a year when I have more fun, 2014 looks like a year for unpacking and re-examining expectations—because growing sometimes means outgrowing the labels we stick on our own chests.
So far this year I’ve gone to my first M/M Romance Meet-up (which was nerve-wracking and more fun than I dared hope), gone on two interviews for internships (one at a fancy litigation firm on the 18th floor of a swaaaaaaaaaaaanky downtown building), and written over 13K words! There may’ve been classes and football games and charity knitting in there too.
A conversation I shamelessly listened-in on at the meet-up (which for some reason my brain refuses to call a party because I just don’t go to
many parties) inspired me to shoot for the February 1st deadline to submit to Dreamspinner’s Daily Dose anthology even though I didn’t start writing until January 1st. I’m only about 7K in, but I can see most (if not all) of the rest and the guys are helping more than I expected. Not that that’s usually a problem, but getting to know someone well enough to write from inside their head can take a while.
I’ve always thought of myself as a slow writer. Not a big deal, everyone lives at their own pace. But why did I slap that label on my forehead and treat it like something permanent? Because it took me a year to write a mainstream novel? Never mind that I worked full-time+, went to school part-time, and was a single parent while I tried to go the whole NY Agent/Big Six route—a whole year felt like a long time to work on a single piece of fiction. And never mind that writers I love sometimes take five times that long to complete a novel. I felt slow, like I wasn’t measuring up to…something…
Maybe it’s time to re-examine the idea that I’m a slow writer. Sure, I’m a full-time student in a demanding program, but Kiddo’s (basically) grown up, and right now I don’t have a day job. I wrote “Toy Run” in about a month and that turned out pretty well. Maybe it depends on the characters—I’ve heard novelists say that every time they start a new story they have to learn how to write that particular book. Maybe there’s something to that.
At any rate, I’ve already managed to cut my time in half—The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds only took about six months to write, after I saw a picture and was (figuratively) struck by lightning. It’s under consideration right now, but even if it’s not accepted for publication it’s still a novel. And I will submit the short story (which I just realized has no title because the working title I’ve been using doesn’t fit at all) by the February 1st deadline. Because I really do love deadlines—they keep goals clear and quantifiable so when you meet one you know you’ve accomplished something (and can celebrate appropriately).
So this is what I’ve been pondering so far this year—how we limit ourselves by forgetting to re-examine our own expectations of what we can do. It feels pretty good! To let a good change sink in, I mean, not the forgetting part.