Have you ever had those days where you just want to throw in the towel? You just want to scream, "I QUIT!!!!" at the top of your lungs, throw an epic tempter-tantrum and drown your woes in a gallon of ice cream (or whatever your comfort food is)? Have you had times when nothing seemed to be going right and Murphy decided to take up residence in your very soul causing everything and anything that could go wrong to fritz out completely? Have you ever felt like you were attempting to climb Mt. Everest with nothing more than a worn pair of flip-flops and a pair of toothpicks to help you in your assent?
Oh, readers, I have those days too. In fact, I've been living that for the last few weeks. Don't get me wrong, some amazing and wonderful things happened too. I was able to go to Arizona and see my sister's new house. I traveled to my hometown to see family and go to the antiques market with my books and horses. We then trekked up to see my husband's family and met his brother's puppy, who of course everyone instantly fell in love with. Yes, things were fun and great.
But all the while, panic has been building inside me because I'm so far behind in my projects for you dear readers it's not even funny. I told myself, "It's okay. This is why I'm self-published. I can be behind and everything will work itself out. It's not the end of the world. It's not the end of the world. It's not the end of the world."
Then my computer crashed. Literally. One of my dear children, whom I will not name here, tried to "help" me get the computer down and dropped it on the floor. At first, the laptop seemed to be fine. Then it suddenly fritzed out and shut down entirely. My husband took it to a local friend and repairman to see what the verdict was. Broken hard-drive. While that could be replaced, and was that very day, I knew what that meant. All the work I'd done recently, my new projects, the pictures from our recent vacations, all lost. Gone. Obliterated.
I tried to console myself with the knowledge that we did have a fairly recent back-up with most of our files. I tried to remind myself that I'd put the best pictures from our Arizona trip on Facebook, so they could be recovered. And I even reminded myself that all the chapters of Scarlett and Blizzard were safe on my blog so it would be easy to copy and paste them back into the story. But the panic built up and escalated anyway. I would have to push back a release date. Again. I would have to restart new projects. Again. Why couldn't I ever learn from these things and have a bleepity-bleep back up disc of my own ready for these kinds of emergencies? Why couldn't Murphy move on and cause havoc in someone else's life? Why couldn't my children, whom I love dearly, just leave my things alone? Why? Why? Why?!? I felt like a pilot in an out-of-control nose-dive and the ground was coming up fast.
The reality is, I'm not superhuman and you remember when I said Patience was my word for the year? Yeah, I think somewhere along the line I forgot that. I fell into the age-old trap of keeping up with the Joneses. Not with money, or a great house, or a nice car, or anything like that. It was the writerly Joneses. The ones writing four or five books where I couldn't even get one finished. The ones who were selling tons and almost becoming household names (a few are in this house at least). The ones who seemed to have everything together.
Yesterday at church I received a lesson I very much needed. In Relief Society, our women's class, we were discussing Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk, "Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You." As we talked about ways we put ourselves down, I brought up social media and our need to keep up with the Joneses who seemed to have everything in control and have perfect lives. "I know I don't usually post when I'm having a rough time on Facebook because I'm generally optimistic and upbeat. I don't want to tell anyone I'm not having an optimistic, upbeat day," I said. "And I'm sure most of my friends are the same way." As the discussion moved on, a little voice in me said, Just like your writing friends aren't telling you about the struggles they have, right?
Way to prick me, Conscience. But it's true. Yes, I've got writing friends who have already put out three or four books where I haven't even had one new release yet this year. But I also have friends who like me are struggling to get anything done. My friends who are writing multiple books back-to-back have different circumstances than I do. They may have older children, or no children. They may have day jobs or perhaps they work from home and for a select few, writing is their day job. But even if they were in exactly the same boat I'm in, the way we operate, the way we think is different. I don't have to write thirty books in a year to be a good author. In fact, I can't write that many books in a year. And I've realized that I piled way too much on myself this year. I have five projects in various states of undoneness, one that is waiting for formatting and final edits, and of course the various needs of everyday life to attend to.
So readers, I'm sharing with you my new schedule of projects. This is going to be how I focus my writing time. And if I tell you I'm getting behind, do me a favor. Remind me that it's okay. This is why I chose self-publishing. I can get behind and it's not the end of the world. A kick in the shorts to get my tail in gear is also sometimes appreciated, but what I really need to hear is, "It's going to be okay."
July (what's left of it) - Final touches of Scarlett and Blizzard, secret Christmas project.
August - secret Christmas project, final additions and starting edits To Keep a Star. August 5 (yep that's a new date, sorry), release Scarlett and Blizzard.
September - edit To Keep a Star, edit secret Christmas project.
October - release To Keep a Star, final edits secret Christmas project.
November - release secret Christmas project, finish Leaving Shenivarthol.
December - begin edits Leaving Shenivarthol and relax.
I've taken out a few projects to work on next year and I will continue to do my blog stories, this time picking up with Tabitha Jannsen in a Beauty and the Beast retelling (thanks readers for your votes!). But overall, I think this will be manageable as well as keeping things fun for me.
I can't tell you how much I appreciate your support and kind words. I've definitely got the best readers around and I'm sending you big hugs right now. Life's too short to spend it in a nose-dive. I'd much rather skim the clouds and enjoy the gorgeous view. Won't you fly with me too?
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius