I really feel like I have the work/life balance thing down nicely right now. I aim to write 1000 words a day. Once I get there, the rest of the time is my own. This works much better for me than aiming to write for a set amount of time, or a set period, in the day, because sometimes I faff about for the first five hours of my time and pound out 999 words in the last hour before I have to pick the kids up.
Other days I get all those words out before midday and don’t know what to do with myself. Other days, I have to do the shopping and the laundry and chaperone a field trip and write up the PTA meeting minutes and so my 1000 words are more like 200, but the important thing is that most weekdays I do manage to get it done. On those days, I have a really nice feeling of accomplishment: I’ve furthered the plot, I’ve probably come up with some nice new things I hadn’t even thought of before, and there are more little black marks on paper heading towards the magic number of 45,000 or so. (That’s about right for a middle-grade book, apparently.) I need to finish this first draft of the second book – it’s going to be a trilogy, it appears – before the school summer break because I won’t get anything done once the kids are off.
Of course, I’m missing a vital part that would take this from ideal imaginary career to ideal actual career: right now nobody is paying me to do this.
The beta-readers’ reports on the first book were good. Everyone who read it loved it, or at least liked it enough to want to read a second one, if one were to appear. A couple of them didn’t get around to reading it, but I won’t hold that against them: ten-year-old girls are pretty busy. I laid my heart on the line by sending them my words, and they returned it with interest. I was, as you can imagine, happy. Bolstered, emboldened.
I’m still waiting to hear from the agent I sent it (part thereof, as requested) to. I know she got it. I fear her silence is a bad sign, but on the other hand, an e-mail saying “thanks, but no thanks” is an actual bad sign, and I haven’t had one of those, so I refuse to despair. Yet. Maybe I should send it to other agents. Maybe I should American it up* and try agents over here, but I don’t want to do that yet.
*I would have to go through the whole thing and change the spelling and punctuation to American, and decide whether to bowdlerise the vernacular or not, or create a glossary, or something. And I think it’s for an Irish audience. Time enough to conquer America later.
Dash is my champion. He hasn’t read the book, or heard it, because frankly it’s for girls, and Irish girls at that; but his faith in me is strong. He wrote a poem about me and read it aloud at the school’s mother’s day assembly. It’s in diamante form, and it goes like this:
Checking, perfecting, reviewing
Writing, reading, words, changing,
Creating, flowing, knowing
Without even stopping to admire his wordcraft (which I do, a lot), it’s more perfect than he could possibly understand. It’s not just what he knows I do when he’s at school; it’s the progression from one to the other that I’m experiencing with every new day that I churn out my thousand words. I sit back with the glow of something new excavated, carved out, that I never knew was inside me, and I think, “I can do this; and I think I can do it tomorrow and the next day and for a lot of days to come. I think I’m finally here.”
I want it to be true. It is true. Maybe it’s just needy to seek the validation of external approval, but mostly it’s because I want this to be my job; and until I see a paycheque, it’s just a very nice hobby for a stay-at-home mom who should probably be doing something more practical instead.