Like many folks this past week, I’ve been up to my knees in snow and over my head in freezing weather. We were lucky. We only got ten inches of snow and not a foot. We only lost power for about twelve hours, and not on the coldest day. We have wood heat and are so used to losing power, we had our contingency plans in place the day before the snow hit, including ones for moving our chickens into the house for the week. Normally, with their heat lamp and winterproofed house, they do fairly well, but these are elderly birds, and this weather was particularly cold. So, for the past week, I’ve been getting up at night to feed the fire, take care of the diabetic dog, and waking up each morning to the rooster crowing…in my house. Let me tell you, sun and warm weather are most welcome today, by me and the critters.
But one thing I noticed with all the snow and the work load: I got a ton of writing done. Not being able to justify hunting for agents, staying further away from the hot mess that is publishing, and generally not thinking beyond “I have two hours to write and then I have to take the dog out, check the chickens, mop up the snowmelt on the floor, and think about what I can cook that won’t require using more than one appliance” was a good thing for me.
For the first time this February, I got my quota. I finished drafting the last book of a trilogy. I am now on track to hit 50,000 words in two new stories by the end of the month. And I just might make my Million Words in a Year monthly quota after all, in the shortest month of the year. I kept up with Beta reading, managed to squeeze in some critique work, and am about to finish reading one of my stories that is slated for revision later this spring. About the only thing that didn’t get done to my satisfaction was art, but I’m now prepared to dive into my year-long art project starting March because I sat down in the cold house with a pen and paper and planned what I wanted to do and where I wanted to start.
So, what can I take going forward from a highly productive and incredibly stressful (not to mention messy) week?
- It’s not a bad idea for me to unplug. I’ve been inundated with emotional pain and unpleasant memories due to the most recent agent scandals, as well as continuing to work through lists of people I might have queried who have done things to previous clients that while not entirely unethical, are things I would find very difficult to deal with in an agent/author relationship. Getting away from that, even for twelve hours, kept me from dwelling on how difficult it is to not only find a good agent, but find one that’s good for me and my work.
- Mess isn’t likely to kill me or my creativity. Okay, I kind of knew this one. I work best with everything spread out in front of me. I prefer a certain amount of uncertainty in my writing. I find it relaxing and practical to work on about five things, dividing them up throughout the day. But it was nice to know I could do that while also mopping up muddy water and cleaning up aspen shavings from the floor of my laundry room.
- My thirty-minute writing sessions are more productive when I know I have something to do in that fifteen-minute break between them that isn’t checking Twitter or Email. It was helpful to know that I had to write as much as I could, and then I would get up to do something like fix the fire, feed the wild birds, make sure the laundry got transferred and done on time because I didn’t want to run a dryer and the oven at the same time because of how intense the need for power was. Having that kind of organization in my non-writing day helped keep me on schedule.
- Reading was a treat. Often, reading becomes something of a chore for me. There’s a lot to read, obviously. When I’m Beta reading, I’m trying to both enjoy and find ways to improve the story in terms of enjoyment, not necessarily in terms of craft, although that factors in at times. But not having anything to watch or listen to, it was nice to kick back after a long day of writing and chores, and just read a book. I am close to meeting my February book reading quota now, and looking forward to March and new reads.
While I certainly don’t want any more snow (please, please, please, please—I am ready for spring!) I was glad that I did have the opportunity to pull back a bit, reflect, and think about what a snow-day or week might do for my writing, particularly in the hot days of August, when I’ll be thinking about snow with wistful longing.
But not about chickens in the house again. Nope.
Million Word Madness Update 28,736 words