Warning: This post is really boring. I wrote it in July and then left it in my drafts because I hated it. Then I re-read and decided it’s worth remembering my 2016 summer. Still, unless you’re slogging through your first novel or you want to remember my boring summer, you may want to scroll down to the bottom where I share the coolest song ever.
This summer’s goal was to write the first draft of my novel. I attempted it last summer, thinking I could start and then drizzle some here and there all year until it was done.
No dice. That’s not how a novel gets written. I’ve learned a ton about how novels get– or don’t get– written. Some of it overwhelms me, like the idea of re-writing my novel at least three times. I tell myself, If Bob can run the Boston Marathon, can train in the worst conditions ever– a Cleveland winter– if Bob can hold on to his dream in spite of all the obstacles thrown at him, I too can do a hard thing– a writing marathon. I read in one of my favorite writer blogs that a would-be writer will put down a million words before her words are publish-worthy. That’s ten Stephen King-length novels or five Russian novels. Like any dreamer, I believe I’m ahead of the curve, that my success will come promptly at 500,000 words.
This was the summer schedule:
Wake at 6AMish (snooze), have my devotions, take Gabe to swimming at 7:50, and then sit down to write until I pick him up at 10 or 11. I’ve carved out a steel time cage for myself that I don’t allow anyone to break into, though some have tried. Need a ride somewhere? Can’t. Tutoring? Nope. Groceries? Starve until noon, my darlings. With two cups of dark roast coffee and a smoothie coursing through my veins, I write until I get to a thousand words. That’s the minimum Stephen King suggests for beginners who want to actually finish a novel. 3000 is recommended, but I think he meant that goal for independently wealthy empty-nesters or Emily Dickenson types who have zero friends and no responsibility whatsoever. Love you, Stephen.
When I imagined summer, I saw a blissfully open schedule. The reality this year is Gabe swims every morning from 8 to 11, Luke has weightlifting or soccer downtown every afternoon at 2:45, and Gabe swims every evening. That leaves me with a sliver of open time from 11:30 to 2 PM on the handful of days Gabe doesn’t have a swim meet. In that sliver of time I schedule friends to come over and swim. Or I schedule doctor appointments. Or I buy groceries. Usually we just have an empty fridge. It’s cool because even when I go to the store the kids always say there’s no food in the house. I’m keeping them honest.
Update: It’s fall and my school schedule is similar. I take Luke to school on the days I carpool, then I get in my steel writing cage and don’t come out until it’s time to start schooling Gabe. My steel cage isn’t sound proof. I need the cone of silence. I asked Bob to get me this. I’m hopeful.
On a completely unrelated note, I love this song.