Friday, April 11, 2014

Too Much of a Good Thing

After today, I have exactly seven weeks left of my life as a University of Colorado philosophy professor: three weeks of classes for my three courses this semester, finals week, and then three weeks of teaching Maymester (where we cram an entire semester-long course into thirteen days).

In preparation for my new life as a full-time writer, I've been trying to line up book contracts so I'll have plenty to do come autumn, when the fall semester at CU will start without me. I've had unprecedented luck so far ("Leap, and the net will appear"). As of this moment, I have six books in my writing pipeline, in addition to the two already in production (Annika Riz, Math Whiz, due out next month, and Izzy Barr, Running Star, due out in spring of 2015).

That is my good news.

The bad news is that a full FOUR of them are supposed to be delivered to the publisher by early summer.

This means that I'm not going to be sitting outside at a little table in a cafe luxuriating in these projects in my blissful teaching-free new life come September. Instead, I need to be writing them this very minute, as I juggle all my end-of-term commitments to the university and the intensity of teaching Maymester.

Too much of a good thing? Or at least, too many good-things-under-contract-with-looming-deadlines that are all facing me RIGHT NOW?

I've decided it's all okay.

After all, I love writing books. I can always write for two hours a day rather than my trademark hour a day, if I have to. Of these four books, one already has an excellent first draft and just needs minor revisions; the second has a decent first draft. Of course, the third has yet to have even the first word written on it - but that just means I'll need to schedule a writing date with my friend Cat to go off somewhere special to write it, preferably mimosa in hand. And the fourth one is not even a speck in my eye right now: I have no idea, no story, no title, no anything. But I'm willing to bet I'll have at least the idea for it by tomorrow, or Sunday at the latest.

Part of me is toying with the idea of asking for an extension on some of my deadlines. After all, the whole point of lining up these projects was so that I'd be busy and happy come fall. I'm already busy and happy enough right now without four books to write.

But a bigger part of me believes that I should leap into the joyous writing of these books in faith that even more busy happiness/happy busyness is awaiting me in the future. I heard this writing advice once: writers should never hold back in their writing, withholding "good stuff" from the current project out of fear that they won't have enough "good stuff" for the next project and the project after that. The advice I heard was that writers should never hold back anything. Cram ALL your best stuff into every project, fill it all to overflowing, in trust that more good stuff is on its way.

So that's my plan. After all, there is also this famed advice from Mae West: "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful."

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