You know how they say, “It’s a jungle out there?” Well, there’s one here, too –in my yard, and in my life. Even my office looks like a jungle right now –it always seems to reflect whatever state my life is in. Do you think people in the Regency had any expression for a similar idea? Was life really so much simpler then?
I’m the kind of person who tends to jump into things with both feet. I enjoy new projects and challenges (up to a point). I like helping and being part of what’s going on. And if I say I’ll be involved, I’m there. Keeping promises and being reliable are important to me. But you know where this tendency leads, don’t you? To overload. The jungle grows overnight.
I was –note the past tense—working on two new writing projects: a novella (my first), and a new full-length novel to kick off a series (also a first for me). It has taken some time for me to get my writing muscles back in shape and rub off some rust after 12 years of not writing (how’s that for a mixed metaphor with no apologies), but I was making progress on both projects. But my to-do list has mushroomed into a humongous, paralyzing nightmare of a thing –a scary jungle creature, I tell you. Does that happen to you?
I know it’s my own fault. No one made me agree to chair my high school class reunion this coming October. Or go to the NJRW conference the weekend before that event, or to work on my church yard sale this month, or to get the cover of The Lady from Spain redesigned, or try to get print editions of that and another of my backlist books ready in time for NJRW. (LFS is almost ready!!)
I’m also excited and honored be part of the upcoming Regency Masquerades boxed set that Elena already mentioned here last week, but it also means time to be spent on that and all the promo we are planning for it. Isn’t the cover pretty? (Shameless plug!!)
No one made me offer to help a friend promote her first book and design a campaign for it (and it’s not even a romance!) It’s a women’s fiction/literary/mainstream historical, set in the Adirondacks in 1912 –say the words “learning curve” with me? And if you know of any review sites (web or FB) that might be a good fit for such a book, we’re looking…. (another shameless plug!)
I joined yet another writers group, and there’s a cookout coming up this month and a big Author Expo event in November…. Okay, I’ll stop. There’s more, not to mention my two regular jobs, plus home and family. The details don’t matter. You totally know where I’m coming from, don’t you? If we want to write, we also need to be engaged with life, with living. With people. How do we learn to say NO?
Author Marie Lavender, who promotes often on LinkedIn, just wrote a blogpost about this. (Writing in the Modern Age: “Know When to Say No” –Aug 27) After a fairly thorough discussion of ways to promote a book, her point is that we –can’t –do it all. That applies to more than promotion. I know I need to be more selective about the ways I engage with living and the things I choose to spend time on. I know I need to make my writing a higher priority, the way it used to be. But now that I’m already surrounded by the jungle, how do I fight my way back out?
If only I practiced in my regular life the caution I show at the beach. There I go slowly, testing the water temperature and making sure I know the currents and the depth before taking any plunge. Plunge? No, I’m the one you’ll find easing my way in, torturous inch by inch. At the beach, I won’t go out deeper than where I can touch bottom –I know the power and unpredictability of the waves.
Here in the jungle, I’ll have to carve my way out inch by inch, I guess. Where’s my machete? The wisteria in my yard is quite literally trying to take over –I’m thinking of naming it “Audrey 3” (ref. Little Shop of Horrors)!! I –will- get back to my wips. Some of these other projects are almost done, and the related sub-lists from the main to-do list will be tossed. (Yes, the scary creature had babies.)
What do you do when you get overwhelmed? Or, if it doesn’t happen to you, how do you keep your jungle at bay? Can you imagine Regency folks in the same sort of state? Even though the upper class had servants (what I wouldn’t give for a yard worker!), I’m sure they could have too many invitations, too many events to host, too many guests… and not enough sense or will-power to say no!
I’ve heard a saying, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” I think that’s true of both of us. Saying “No” is hard.
I’m in something of a jungle myself right now. The only way I see out is to keep working, keep prioritizing, meet current commitments but then be careful of taking on any new ones.
There’s a lot of truth in that saying, Elena! We should try harder not to be such good examples of the truth behind it, I suspect. But I think that might require re-wiring our brains, and then of course, our writing wouldn’t be the same anymore…. If I catch a good sale on machetes, I’ll point you in that direction!!
When I’m under a pile of work, I try to remember what one of my bosses would say “The important stuff will get done!”. Even if you have to keep re-prioritizing, the important things will make it to the top of the list!
Kristin, that’s a good, positive way to look at it –how to find the path through the jungle! And true. Smart boss! I find that, over time, even the things way down the list often do eventually get done –I love coming across an old to-do list and discovering that everything on it can be crossed off!