I wasn’t sure what to title this post. It’s not something dedicated to a particular topic, except my rambling about working. I recently listened to a couple of podcasts where Dean Wesley Smith was interviewed, and he’s right that writing isn’t work. It is play. But I have to tell the people in my life that I’m working or else they won’t give me time to write. Anyone who’s ever worked at home knows that people assume you aren’t doing anything because you’re home. It’s not like you go out, clock in at an office, and leave at a certain time. People who work at home don’t have set hours, and because of that, it’s harder to convince others that you can’t drop everything to do whatever they want.
Over the course of ten years of seriously writing books, I’ve come to learn that 95% of the time, the stuff the people in my life interrupt me about are distractions. Such distractions include, but are not limited to, talking about something they saw on TV/read in an article, wanting you to check some You Tube video, or venting about something that happened to them. These are all things that can wait until you’re done, but because you are home, you’re not “busy”, and since you’re not “busy”, you have all the time in the world to listen to them. Talking to people who also work at home, I’ve learned they go through similar distractions. And it makes doing the tasks on our list harder to accomplish in any given day. Add kids to the mix, and it’s twice as hard because kids don’t understand time management.
This week has been like pulling teeth to get anything done. My kids are off school, and every fifteen minutes, someone in my house is interrupting me. It’s been insane. I’d say over half the interruptions have to do with some fight one of the kids is having with his brother. (I have four sons, and since one is deaf, there are A LOT of misunderstandings in this house. Most of my time is clearing up those misunderstandings.) I often think that if I were a standup comedian, my platform would be “Kidtastrophes” because every little thing is a huge thing around here. Trust me, there is a lot of humor in the kinds of things kids complain about. But since I hate public speaking, I am never going to run those standup routines that periodically go through my mind during the day.
I already knew going into this Christmas break that I wouldn’t get any writing done, so I have put all of my romances on hold. But I like to stay busy. I can’t just sit and watch the TV. I need something to do or else I’ll go crazy. It’s too cold to go for walks. Across the US, it sounds like a lot of states are getting record lows. (Montana is having its share of the cold weather, along with snow.) So I have to stay inside.
I decided to work on a pet writing project. I’m in the process of editing an old Young Adult Fantasy trilogy that I wrote back in 2004. Yeah, that long ago. And I can tell you that my writing has changed a lot since then. I thought this was going to be an easy edit. It’s turned into a lot of rewrites and massive edits. I’m halfway into Book 2. The reason I’m making as much progress as I am is because each book is novella.
Anyway, the other day I did the covers for this trilogy while on the phone with my good friend, Janet Nitsick. (I can’t just sit and talk on the phone, either. I need to do something while on the phone, so I did the covers. Graphics are easy to work with while I’m talking on the phone since they don’t require a lot of attention.) So the covers are done, and while I’m not sure they will appeal to the YA fantasy crowd, they appeal to me so I’m using them. I did do my research, and I think it’s a doable compromise since some YA fantasy fit that look.
About once or twice a year, I allow myself a pet writing project to work on. I find doing these projects help me stay fresh and creative. I guess taking a break from romance helps me to fill up my creative tank in the romance genre. This is probably why I love reading outside the romance genre. Romance is, and always will be, my first love, but I enjoy other genres, too. Ironically, I read more nonfiction than fiction in my spare time. Most of it does have to do with my Christian faith (I read the Bible regularly). I also read books on the proper management of money (because I’m not good with this area of my life), and I read books on writing and book promotion, which probably doesn’t surprise anyone reading this post. I used to read a ton of fiction, but once I really got into writing, that dropped significantly. I guess it’s my mind’s way of trying to find a good balance. I can’t just focus on one thing. I need to have a couple of things going on at any one time. So writing fiction and reading nonfiction gives me a balance.
I’m not going to put this pet project under Ruth Ann Nordin. I’ve done a couple of pet projects under that name, and I think it only adds to people’s confusion because I’m a romance writer. So for this pet project, I’m going to go with a pen name. I have one clean contemporary romance under Barbara Joan Russell, and I haven’t done anything with it since. I’ve decided to give that pen name this pet project. I have a couple more stories that I wrote back in 2005-2007 that I’ll be editing, and I’ll put those under the pen name. I figure this will take a couple of years. These stories were originally published with the vanity presses. This was before Amazon and Smashwords came along to change the way authors published their stuff. That was a huge game changer in the publishing industry. Other publishing platforms (Kobo Writing Life, Nook Press, Draft 2 Digital, iBooks, etc) have come along since then, but Amazon and Smashwords were the original places to publish ebooks that made it easy to get books into the world.
From time to time, I get asked, “Do you get an editor?” Yes. I do for every single one of my books. The pet projects are no different. I’ve already hired two editors to work on the trilogy I’m currently working through. By this time next week, I plan to be done with my initial edits of the trilogy. Then the editors will go through them. That will free me up to return to working on romances again.
Tomorrow, Married In Haste is coming out, but I’m going to delay the blog post announcing its release until Monday. I’m currently busy on this pet project, so all I can do tomorrow is send out the email with the special epilogue to those of you on my email list. I’ll also post the special epilogue to those of you in the private Facebook group I share with Janet Nitsick.
One of the keys to balancing all of the stuff on my To Do List is to dedicate one or two non-writing things to do each day. If I try to do everything in one day, I’d go crazy. This is also why I can take a while to get to people on Facebook and in the emails. I’m not ignoring anyone. I’m just wading through everything I have to get done. I don’t have a personal assistant. I do it myself. I know some authors have assistants, but I like doing things on my own. Except for editing, book covers, and taxes. On those three things, I do contract out. (Sometimes I also hire out for book descriptions if I can’t figure out what to put down.)
So yeah… I never have a dull moment in my neck of the woods. 🙂
I actually feel like writing is work. Fun work, but still work. You need to concentrate, set yourself goals and deadlines, and sometimes receiving a commission (aka royalties and maybe an advance if you’re a traditional author) requires meeting goals and deadlines. If that doesn’t sound like work, then I’m a hippo.
Also, let me know when that YA Fantasy trilogy is coming out. I have a friend who might read/review the trilogy for you.
The writing itself is fun for me. The publisher side is where the work is. I do enjoy setting down my publishing schedule and figuring out my deadlines because I like knowing I’ll accomplish something by a certain time. Having a cover made in advance goes a long way to motivating me to finish my stories. But the editing part sucks, which is why I rely heavily on my editing team. I’m also not a fan of uploading the books, which is why I like Smashwords to do all of the retailers (minus Amazon) for me. To me those things are a lot of work. And there’s no way I’m going to handle payroll or my taxes on my own. I have a payroll service and an accountant doing those things for me. It means spending extra money, but it’s worth it to avoid the hassle.
Janet Nitsick thinks editing is the fun part, and she says writing is the work. And Rose Gordon once told me she loves the bookkeeping and accounting part. So we are all different in how we view what’s play and what’s work in this business. 🙂
This YA Fantasy is heavy in romance. Would your friend be interested in it if half the trilogy is romance?
Probably. A lot of what she reads involves romance between teenagers.
I’ll contact you when I publish the trilogy. If she’s interested, I’ll send her all three books for free.
I’m sure she’d appreciate that.
One. Maybe you can’t actually do a stand-up comedy routine yourself – but you COULD write about a heroine (or hero) who does that … with kidtastrophes as his or her platform. That way, you could let your sense of humor about the kids shine through.
I had to laugh about you not being able to talk on the phone without doing something. I have to play solitaire on the computer when I talk to keep me from getting distracted.
I have a theory as to why I tend to prefer reading other genres. Maybe it’s the same with other authors? But I can’t seem to turn my internal editor off when I read straight up romance. It’s not something I do on purpose, it just happens. “Well, I would have written that scene THIS way,” or “If that had been one of MY heroes, I’d probably have made him do _____ instead of ______.” I don’t tend to do that with non-scary fantasy or paranormal so it’s easier to lose myself in the story.
I do that from time to time in my books. A Husband For Margaret featured four boys, and their antics were all from the kinds of things my kids did, and the people who made snarky comments to the heroine were the comments I used to get. Every time I go through that story, it’s like I’m reliving the past. I also put in a sample of what my kids do in The Marriage Agreement during the dinner table when one brother kept “looking” at another brother. Those parents couldn’t get through a meal without the two brothers arguing about something stupid, and used to happen every single dinner at my home until I gave up and stopped making dinner. Now everyone is on their own. It just wasn’t worth the hassle. The kids wore me down! LOL I throw in other things from time to time, but those are the most notable instances that came directly from my own experience.
I do often think, “If this was my story, I would have done _____________” when reading romances. Now that I think about it, I don’t really do that with other genres. I hadn’t thought of it until you mentioned it. I do it without even thinking about it. I guess we can’t turn the storyteller “off”.
I just had two boys in the house, and it was still “never a dull moment”. LOL
That’s true about people thinking you aren’t really “working” if you’re at home. I have a friend who has worked from home a long time. People always think she can just drop everything and do whatever they want. Luckily, she travels a lot during the day now, so she’s not around to get roped into things.
I don’t think it’s ever a dull moment the moment kids come along. 🙂 Even if you just had one, the kid would be bored because there’s no one to play with.
I never realized how much people did when they ran their own business. Writing for a living has been eye opening in so many ways. I’ll never look at small business owner the same way again. I bet your friend is glad she’s no longer getting roped into things.