This is going to be a relatively short post. I’ve been getting some emails from a few folks, and I think everyone deserves to know what’s going on. I did, after all, leave you off with only two books in what will likely be a seven-book series, so I owe the readers this much at least.
Some of you know this because I’ve reached out directly and answered emails, but in mid-2019 I needed to find employment. 2019 also happens to be the last time I published a book – so if you’re wondering what happened, a new job is partly to blame for the lack of content. The main reason I needed employment was to maintain health insurance, and that meant I couldn’t write full time anymore. I had every intention of writing after I came home each day and on the weekend. Unfortunately, the type of job I took drained me of my mental capacity to do so. There are a couple of reasons for this, and I’m only going to detail these reasons because I believe a lot of aspiring writers feel bad about their lack of production. They get a few pages done every now and then but don’t seem to manage any more than that. I’ve read the hardest hurdle to overcome when writing a book is actually getting it written – it’s not finding an agent, it’s not getting it published, the thing that trips up most people who aspire to write is getting that first book finished. I don’t know how true this is, but I have had a number of people tell me at my day job when they discover I’m a writer that they are also aspiring writers, and they are still working on that first book. So anecdotally, this rings true. My details as to why I haven’t been writing are meant to assuage all the aspiring writers out there – don’t feel bad. It’s a lot of work and maybe right now isn’t the time for that.
I haven’t been able to finish more writing work and that’s due to two things about the job I took – one is personal, and the other is job-related.
On the personal side, I am an extreme introvert. I’m very good at masking this. I’ve worked in public settings most of my working life. If you go into librarianship there are ways you can work in a more isolated environment, but one of the things I’ve always liked best about librarianship was helping people find things. This tends to put you on the front lines answering a ton of questions. When I was a public librarian, I was a lot younger, so I had more energy in general. When I think of getting older in the abstract, things like less energy are a natural prediction to make. But the mental capacity I have to recharge after interacting with so many is not something I expected to diminish. But here we are. The job I took was at an enormously busy library. There were 1.5 million visitors a year, and it is a 24-hour library. It’s a lot, even for an extrovert. Of course, Covid put a dent in that, but then the stressors just shifted. As things picked back up and the Covid mitigations eased, we were back to square one where I spent my days interacting with dozens of strangers every hour. I would come home mentally exhausted and sit like a lump on my couch for a couple hours, often taking a nap. I just didn’t have the energy to do this.
The job related issue was that I was in charge of mentoring and training 10 graduate assistants each year. When you are a manager of folks who work evening hours and may need help answering a question at any time, it’s hard to find uninterrupted blocks of time to dive into writing. My supervisor said the job I had really was like a 24/7 job. You are quasi on call all evening long, and in the age of collaborative tools like Teams and Slack, you are extremely reachable. I’m a person who has a crippling sense of responsibility for others under my care. The GAs I mentored were under my care, so it was not something I could ignore when their questions came to me at 11pm at night on a Friday.
These are just my reasons for not being able to write. But everyone has different stressors or distractions. It’s tough. I envy those who can deal with all the stuff of a day job and still put in the hours to get writing done. They have a superpower I do not. I wish I did.
However, things have changed. I’m still employed, but at a new location at the university and as a writer. Huzzah! Now my day job has the same vibe as my evening gig, and since much of my time is remote, I interact with far fewer people. When I do go into the office, our small team is all I see. No more dozens every hour. This has meant I finish my day and have a great deal more energy. Thus why you’ve seen two posts this week. I’m still getting into the groove in my new job, but I think in a couple week’s time I’ll have a schedule for myself that will allow for me to get things rolling again.
Now to get to the roadmap. I try not to set timelines. I think timelines can undermine the writing process – force me to write when I’m not feeling it, or to rush something that needs more work. But I do want to make a goal and set a quasi roadmap just to help keep me on track. Even if I don’t end up hitting these goals, I should be able to make progress towards them. My goal is to have The 11 ready for publishing by January. My roadmap is to have something ready for beta readers every 8 months or so. It’s ambitious, but I will do my best. The hope is that I can do both things – keep my health insurance through my day job, and keep writing for all those who like reading my work. I guess I’ll find out soon if that’s a task I’m up for.
Copyright 2018 M.M. Perry