A Long Overdue Update

A Long Overdue Update

Well, it’s been a LONG time since my last post and I’ve got a lot to catch you up on. First of all, I’m sorry for not sharing anything yet this year. October snuck up on me and I still feel like it should be February. I’ve had a lot going on at home and this website ended up taking a backseat. The good news is that the chronic pain issue I’ve dealt with for 8 years is finally manageable and I’m in the process of building new habits in our household so that things start running smoothly again. I hope, from now on, I won’t have to choose between my personal and professional lives and I can update things more regularly.

Unfortunately, I haven’t made a lot of progress on my book over the last few months. (Although I have been consistently filling my notebook for the next draft.) I’d feel worse about it if I hadn’t been working so vigilantly to get my health back under control, but it does mean that I won’t be able to publish this year. 2020 threw everything out of balance due to lockdowns, and a lot of those complications snowballed and carried through 2021. With all the stress piling up I knew I needed to prioritize health over writing if I wanted any chance of both later on. Now that things have calmed down a bit, I hope to write the entire next draft for NaNoWriMo in November and finish the remainder of major edits by the end of the year.

Since I’m getting back into the writing saddle, I’ve had to restructure my daily schedule (keep reading for the reason) and relearn some old, trusted writing tricks all over again. Writing sprints, keeping my workspace clean of distracting mess, putting my phone out of sight, listening to ambient music, only drinking coffee when I’m about to work to subconsciously trigger my writing mindset, etc, are all techniques that help me stay focused. I’ve also had to acclimate my family to the fact that my writing time is MY time. Noise canceling headphones are my normal visual sign that I’m busy, but I’ve had to give additional notices since we’ve all fallen out of regular habits.

In getting back to work, my results have felt a little bit like water coming out of the faucet after it’s been shut off for awhile. Sputtering everywhere. I’ve been relying on 5 minute writing sprint sessions to get me going when I feel stuck, or when things are too busy at home for anything longer, and I’ve been able to incorporate more and more of them throughout my day lately. Even though these 5 minute blips don’t feel like much in the moment, they definitely add up over time. The inspiration for the story, and the drive to finish the book, are coming back and I’m excited about my work again.

That brings me to some news about the little “hiccup” that completely derailed the last few months of work. In July, we had a too-good-to-pass-up opportunity to get a new puppy. Our dog, Tipsy, passed away in her sleep back in January and we were determined to have a mourning period and NOT bring another one home until September, at the earliest. (I also needed that time to focus on my health.) But we stumbled across a listing for a Redbone Coonhound puppy and couldn’t say no. It’s been a dream of mine to have a Redbone since I read Where the Red Fern Grows as a child, but I never really expected that it would happen and was ecstatic when the opportunity came around.

Persephone, who has her own Instagram page here, is one of the sweetest and smartest puppies I’ve ever met, but her energy and drive to play/track things means that I rarely have time to sit down. I wouldn’t trade her for the world, but I did have to reevaluate my publishing expectations once it became clear just how MUCH energy she had. (I thought I knew what to expect from all the research I did, but I wasn’t even close!) I realized that I was going to need to work on getting her on a schedule that would allow writing time when she took naps, so that’s what I’ve been spending most of my time on recently.

In addition to that, a few weeks ago, we had another too-good-to-pass-up opportunity to get a Bluetick Coonhound puppy. Yes, I know, we might be a little insane. After seeing Persephone light up while playing with my parents’ dog, and acknowledging that she needs a LOT more play time than we anticipated, we made a calculated decision to give her a sibling and Apollo joined the pack. Aside from the demands of training another puppy, things have actually calmed down a lot in terms of the kind of energy I have to spend since they wear each other out and then take long, cozy naps together on the couch. I just have to take care not to make exciting noises while they sleep or they jump up, ready for fun, with boundless energy.

Now, it’s just a matter of time before we’re all on the same page in regards to my work time. (Patience and persistence will be rewarded!) As you can see, I’ve actually been able to sit down and write this post which is a huge improvement, and proof that things are finally headed in the right direction. I’ve worked out a new and detailed daily schedule so I don’t have to use up my decision-making reserves figuring out the same things everyday. I now have all of the expected possibilities written down in specific time slots, with plenty of room to adjust if need be. I’ve learned a lot about my planning abilities over the last couple of years and I feel pretty confident that this revised system is going to help.

We’re already well into Q4, and I haven’t reached as many goals as I’d like yet, but I’m crossing my fingers for a strong finish to the year. I have 2 drafts to complete, blog posts to catch up on, puppies to train, social media posts to plan/write, holidays and birthdays to prepare for, tons of miscellaneous book-related tasks that need attention, and household projects to tackle. And somewhere in that mess, I need to find time to read again. I can’t remember the last time I was able to sit down with a book for more than 5 minutes without being disturbed. Everything is going to depend on how well my new schedule works, how determined I am to push through distractions, and how cooperative the two and four-legged members of our household are along the way.

Since I won’t have time to complete all the necessary steps in the publishing process by the end of this year, I’ve pushed my deadline** back to July 2022. I’d like to publish around my birthday, if possible, as a sort of gift to myself. While I hesitate to put anything in writing, since so many things have gone wrong over the last few years of this journey, I like to think optimistically that the worst is behind me and I have sunny days ahead. I know I will publish when the time is right, and the odds look like they’re turning in my favor. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for steady progress and a few distraction-free months!

So thank you for your patience while I dealt with health issues and puppy chaos. I’m working hard to get back on track, and I hope that this is the last extended break that I need to take for a LONG time. I look forward to sharing stories of progress in the near future!

*All photos by Lacy Hess

**July 2022 is the personal deadline I’m working toward and is subject to change. It is not an official release announcement.

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