Me: "Oh god, I'm going to die of busy! Too many projects!"
Kiah: "Didn't you say you weren't taking on any new projects, like a month ago?"
Kiah: "And didn't you then knit yourself a new hat?"
Me: "That was hardly a project. It was just one ball of sock yarn!"
Kiah: "And then didn't you set an unreasonable deadline for yourself on that one story?"
Me: "Yeah, but I should've been able to revise ten thousand words in a week."
Kiah: "...And then didn't you agree to illustrate a children's book for a hospital?"
Me: "Hey, that book is about an EAGLE whose favorite hobby is SMILING and it's gonna be EPIC."
Kiah: "All I'm saying is maybe you should cut back on the projects."
Internal John Locke: "DON'T TELL ME WHAT I CAN'T DO!"
Me: "Yeah, what he said."
2010 so far has been The Year Of Not Meeting Deadlines, and that has forced me to reexamine the way I collect projects. My biggest problem is unreasonable expectations. I think I can do everything at once - and I hate to admit that I can't. So I listen to the little Locke voice in my head and think, "Hey, yeah, I can totally get both those novels written in one summer!"
No, I can't. I have limits as a writer.
I also have limits on my time, which is my other blind spot. I work 40 hours/week and spend another 10 minimum doing school stuff. Add to that creative projects, downtime after a busy workday, and the social life of someone who's trying very hard not to become a hermit who will be eaten by her pack of yapdogs...and I don't have much time for sleep, much less new projects. But the more I want to be done with school, the more I find myself imagining my life as it will be after graduation - no homework, less stress, and a vast stretch of hours open for creative pursuits. And then, when it comes time to prioritize things, I find myself planning for the creative life I want, not the one I have.
This past weekend was an eye-opener for me. WisCon is a place with a high level of creative energy, and many of the attendees are writers. While talking with other writers, I kept thinking, "How are these people able to manage their lives, jobs, and writing? Why can't I?"
(Internal John Locke: "DON'T TELL ME WHAT I CAN'T DO!")
The answer is, of course: I can. It will just require work. And taking responsibility for my own priorities. And sacrificing some projects I would like to do right now to make more space for the projects I know I can do right now.
The night I got home from con, I faced the wipeboard that contains my current project list and picked up an eraser. After several swipes and one loooong hesitation, I pared the list down from 10-12 items to this:
- Revise auction story (10k words)
- First draft of Wendigo Girls novel (60-70k words)
- Finish the multi-chapter fanfic I've been working on (20-30k words)
- Illustrate Eddy the Eagle book (24 pages of simple illustrations)
I have other, smaller projects cataloged in a mental list of things I can do as well, but those have no deadlines. They'll get done, for sure - I find that with fiber arts projects especially, I work better if I don't set ETAs for myself - but I'll work on them without expectations. I'm hoping I can turn 2010 into The Year Of Finding A Balance.