What We Can Do & What We Have to Leave for Later

On Saturday, I sent the last chapters of The Writing Group Survival Guide off to my critique group. (You bet I’m sending the book through critique!) This means that in the past five months, I’ve written somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000 words.

It feels a little bit weird and a little bit…whew!

Now I’m not saying the book has been easy. (It hasbeen fun!) I’ve had lots of reading and research to do, and I’ve played a lot with the best ways to present and “voice”ย the information I want to deliver. But many of chapters do follow a basic structure (that I hope makes it easy for readers to jump in where they want), and that does make things flow a bit more simply and quickly than fiction. At least for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Still, yes, I’ve been working pretty hard the past few months. A deadline will do this to you, which I count as a plus. Because it showed me what I am capable of, when I need to be–when I am excited about and committed to a project. Once I get the critiques back and revise the chapters, I’ll be sending these off to my Writer’s Digest editor. And then, I believe, I’ll have some waiting time before I get comments and critiques back from him.

During that time, I want to apply the same excitement and commitment levels to my fiction. I’ve been spending some time with my current WIP–the historical YA novel. I’ve also started a few ideas for younger books–two picture books and a chapter book. So I’ve got plenty to work on during those weeks while the book is in Writer’s Digest’s hands.

So that’s half of the post title–the things we can do when we decide we’re going to. What about the second half?

Yes, well, I have worked hard on the book. And while I did, I managed, I think to keep up a certain, albeit low, level of maintenance on things like laundry, cleaning, and refrigerator supply. Other things, though, have piled up. Papers. Books. Dust. Miscellaneous-I-Won’t-Know-Till-I-Start-Digging. I definitely had to push some of those daily or weekly tasks onto the back burner.

I know–it’s not like I minded. These chores aren’t exactly my favorite way to spend time. But after a while–and you all know this–it starts to feel as though the piles are getting too high. As though they’re sort of leaning in on you from the walls, threatening to tip just a little too far and come crashing down on your head. Yes, I’m speaking metaphorically, but here in California, you never know!

So, this week, while my chapters are with my stupendous critique group, I’m taking the edge off some of those piles. I could still be working on little pieces of the book–I have a few introductions to write and some worksheets to develop. But I made a conscious decision to take a break from the book and get my house back in order.

Today, I cleaned up shelves in the living room that were, literally, overflowing. I’m not much of a cook, and I have the Internet, so 98% of the cookbooks are gone, and the others are moved into a new set of shelves just off the kitchen. I got rid of the binders in which I’ve been storing recipes I mightuse someday and typed the ones I really want to keep (my mother-in-law’s meat pie, my great-grandmother’s sweet & sour meat & cabbage) into software and put the printouts into ONE FOLDER–with the last of the cookbooks. I moved out stacks of junk and got the rest of the things that need be on the bookcases neatly organized.

This afternoon? I’m on MP3 and Pandora these days, for music. So I’m getting rid of the CD player that never worked, moving my CDs to one of those I-Can’t-Reach-the-Darned-Thing-Anyway shelves, and opening up space to get my writing books better organized.

What have you pushed away for so long that you’re actually looking forward to tackling it? Or at least to having it done? ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. beth says:

    Wow–that is a lot of writing! Congrats!!

    Let’s see…I periodically put off doing basic housework (dishes, clothes, vacuuming, etc.). I hate doing it anyway. In fact, here’s how my life goes: I do all the stuff I want to do (blog, write, watch TV) for as long as possible, until a deadline makes me do the stuff I don’t want to do (school work, boring stuff) and then I run around like a mad-woman, doing housework because I’d rather do that first, before I do all the boring stuff!!!

    Also: would you ever like to do an interview for my blog on crit groups and about your book? I think my blog audience would really like that…


    • beckylevine says:

      I would LOVE to do an interview. Anytime! You can just email me at beckylevine at ymail dot com.

      Yeah, housework. Whatโ€™s that about, anyway? Isnโ€™t the writing thing supposed to come with an automatic butler? Thank goodness company occasionally drops in, and thereโ€™s a real REASON to clean!


  2. jordanrosenfeld says:

    Good work Becky. By the way, are you working with Kelly Nickell??


    • beckylevine says:

      Thanks, Jordan. Kelly was my acquisitions editor–I owe her LOTS of roses and much chocolate. My editor is Scott Francis–we’ve just done a little bit together, but he’s been great.


  3. Sherrie says:

    Congrats on finishing the critique book! That is SO exciting!! When is it supposed to be released?

    I’ve been paying bills and balancing the check book today ;(
    I did spend a little time writing so that was good. I’ve been in this mode where I really like to write at night, after everyone else is asleep. It’s making me tired and cranky in the daytime. Especially when I have to pay bills and balance the check book…


  4. beckylevine says:

    Thanks! It’s due to come out January 2010–they call that Fall, 2009! ๐Ÿ™‚ I think I’ll probably be doing revisions for them spring & summer? Maybe? Not sure!

    Oh, great–thanks for the bills reminder. Well, really, I think opening up THREE bookshelves is a bit mroe important!

    Did you ever see the Bob Newhart (the old show) where he pays bills? My son & I went on a binge with the DVDs for the show & that one was a crack-up.

    I’ve never been able to write much at night before, but lately when son and husband sit down to a movie I don’t want to watch (think gross, gory visuals!), I’ve been writing and it’s been great.


  5. Jaimie says:

    Congratulations Becky! It’s great hear that you’ve finished the book. Well, from the look of my laundry pile I know exactly what I’ve been neglecting.

    I’ll get to it soon (at least that’s what I tell myself).



  6. P. J. Hoover says:

    Building bookshelves! I’ve been putting it off, but Spring Break is right around the corner.
    Congrats are getting it done!


    • beckylevine says:

      Yay for more shelves! I got three free ones by cleaning things up. I don’t think there’s an inch more room in here for another actual set–I wish!
      Thanks for the congrats. ๐Ÿ™‚


  7. Shawna says:

    Like you, the last several months have been spent working on a manuscript; 100,000 words written and polished in 4 months. It makes my head spin.

    Also like you, my house is… shall we say less than gleaming. : )

    So I’ve set aside today for a task that is long overdo and yes, I’m excited about it. I’m going to take everything out of the linen/craft/game closet–why is it that kids pick the bottom towel in the stack?– refold and organize to my heart’s content.

    Right now scrabble is scrabbled, I don’t know where all the memory game pieces are hiding and battleship? Well, it looks like it has been torpedoed.

    Congratulations on finishing the critique book!


    • beckylevine says:

      Shawna-Fantastic on the manuscript–that’s incredible! My head’s spinning, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

      The towel thing makes me crack up–it’s so true. Isn’t it sick how, when it gets bad enough and we need a break, cleaning out sounds fun? I’m trying to figure out what I should tackle today–kitchen or bathroom!


  8. Andra M. says:

    Like you, I put off the housework until an avalanche (or twelve) threatens.

    My son’s been helping though. When he crawls on the floor, he drools and picks it up along with dog hair and other dirt with his belly and knees.

    He gives a whole new definition to the term “spit-shined.”

    Congrats on completing your manuscript!


    • beckylevine says:

      Praise that boy big-time; pretty soon, you’ll be wanting him to empty the dishwasher! Right now, he sounds like one of those vacuum cleaners that lets you soap things up at the same time. ๐Ÿ™‚


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