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Shuffling Priorities

What do you do when you have conflicting commitments? Hindsight would say, “Don’t schedule yourself in two places at once,” but sometimes events lead us into unforeseen circumstances. My conflicting commitments stretch across writing, reading, and podcasting. The commitment that has to be dropped right now is NaNoWriMo. I thought I could put things aside to make extra room for nano, but realized that doing so would mean doing other commitments with half the effort. Four priorities forced me to conclude nano wouldn’t be completed this year.

The first obstacle was writer’s block. Some people say this doesn’t exist, and I can see their point. I could write incoherent garbage, but I prefer not to have to edit it later. So, when I hit a snag in my SF novel, I decided I needed to give it some time to percolate. Four days and one glorious swim later and I unraveled the science I needed to move forward. I’m a firm believer that some things can’t be forced, and for the week that I did nano, I was squeezing blood out of my temples to get the words out. Instead of wasting days like that with low word counts, I’d rather work on other projects. My priority is to be productive, and if one project needs time to breathe, I should be able to work on other stuff.

Moving on to my second priority, I have an interview today with Michael J. Sullivan for my AudioTim podcast. I received an advanced reader copy of Theft of Swords, a combination of the first two books of the Riyria Revelations. I try to read the person’s book before interviewing them, but in this case I was taking too long with all the time I was spending “writing.” So, I haven’t written in four days, but I did finish his book, and am glad to say it was an absolute treat. I’d like to say I take my job seriously, and podcasting, while not my main focus, is still significant to my career and the career of those whom I interview. People aren’t going to waste their time coming on my show if I don’t try hard to present the best product. Therefore, I needed to take a break to put my best foot forward for this interview – plus, I’m a big fan of Michael’s, so giving him a good show is the least I can do.

My third priority is the goal of polishing my craft before I spit out 50k of words that will be agonizing to edit. The 11k I’ve written so far this month are an improvement, but I still don’t have a handle on the issues I mentioned in the last post about subject rules, pronouns, and paragraph breaking. I’ve polished the 5k for Lane Diamond of Evolved Publishing to edit and send back his notes, and am waiting to see those before I move forward. That gave me the perfect time to catch up on my reading. I love to read, and the only way I’m going to read the books I want to is to finish the ones I’m working on. These two combined for a good excuse not to write for a few days.

This leads to my final priority: getting published. All roads lead to this end, and I’ve got the best lead to date. A zombie novelette I sent out prior to joining Team PYP in June received a non-rejection from a publisher, and a request for another editing pass. I asked my trusty captain over at Port Yonder Press and she said polishing this story should be a high priority. I agree.

So, once I get my edits back from Lane, I am going to apply that to my current flash fiction piece – a zombie story set in the same mythos as my novelette – and my novelette. I’ve got another flash fiction piece needing final polish and I’d like to get at least the two zombie stories out to publishers this month. This will be my best foot forward towards the goal I stated earlier this year that 2011 be the year I get published.

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About Timothy C. Ward

Timothy C. Ward writes SF/F/and Horror during his day job, and podcasts in the evening on Adventures in SciFi Publishing. His first short story publication is "Cornhusker: Demon Gene." His first non-trunked novel, Kaimerus, is described as “Firefly crashes on Avatar and wakes up 28 Days Later.” His dream is writing full-time where he can snowboard and play with Huskies. Currently, he lives in Des Moines and his wife lets him have a Husky wall calendar, so he’s “this” close.

7 comments on “Shuffling Priorities

  1. Great recap of what is going on with your decision right now. Hope you get published!

  2. Woo-hoo on the zombie novelette! You’re making progress, Tim!

    And balancing commitments is a big thing–I know the feeling! I’ve never even attempted NaNo for that reason. Too many other things take priority this time of year. And right now I’ve got so many commitments that NaNo would have probably killed me :P.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks, Kat! I’ve already cut 7% of the novelette and am not even halfway through the polish. I’m also trying to just enjoy life. In the long run, I’m betting I’ll get more done. Thankfully, what’s fun to me is editing and posting a podcast up to 10pm on a Friday. What a cool hobby, and one day, hopefully, a profession.

  3. Hang in there. The juggling is rough but I think you will work it out. I’m with you on the not forcing writing. I have found, for me, it comes out as garbage and it is not easy to transform garbage. :D

  4. It seems you have a very sensible response when faced with over-commitment. I agree with the NaNoWriMo issue of forcing out content. I do have NaNo to thank for helping me get out my first manuscript. Unfortunately, there was so much junk I stuck in from trying to meet my word count that, two years later, I’m just now cleaning out the last of it and really refining the heart of the story.
    Zombie stories are always worth working towards, although it seems like that subgenre is getting a glut of attention and content lately.

  5. Thanks for stopping by, Janeen. And thanks for understanding. It’s easy to guilt ourselves into doing everything possible, but sometimes, like weight training, we have to have light days to really build muscle. (Sorry, that metaphor might have come out of left field.) Anyway, I totally understand what you mean. I have two nano novels that needed rewritten. I don’t want to do that to the end of this novel just to finish it in November instead of December. I’ll save more time doing it the right way.

    I’m glad you think so. I’m much more motivated to work on my zombie stories, and am just excited to be close to getting published. It is getting a lot of attention, but not a whole lot of quality content. I’m aiming to improve the latter. See you around, Janeen.

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