Sometimes Life is Like a Snow Globe
Okay, sometimes life is like being inside a snow globe. It’s an odd metaphor for a summer, but it’s a summer where things have been shaken up, settled briefly, then shaken up again. In July, we “hosted” my husband’s kidney stone about three weeks. (Go get a big glass of water. Right now. I’ll wait.) Then the heat wave hit, and now California is basically one big firestorm. I’ve been able to get things done at work and make some decent progress on a writing project, but concentration and focus haven’t been my friends for a while now.
When my snow is “settled,” I’m good with having a lot of writing projects up in the air. I can shift back and forth, letting one simmer while I move forward on another. When the snow is whirling, though, having that many first drafts and revisions in my head is like being in a blizzard. (Not that I’ve ever been in a blizzard.)
This morning, after I checked the news on the fires, I took a few minutes to sit and breathe (the smoke has been better at our house for a couple of days!). The wind in my head quieted down a bit, and my mind wandered over to my current writing projects: a new picture book idea I’m excited about, three revisions I have some good thoughts on, and whatever continued writing I want to do on my chapter book wip after the Highlights workshop at the end of this month.
Needless to say, the thought of all those projects waiting for me kicked up the wind, and my mind was back in the snowstorm. I reminded myself that, at times like this, it’s good for me to step back into a sheltered place, line up my goals neatly by the fire, and make some decisions about what comes next, then next after that, and then next again. A row of “nexts” is much better than a swirl of “NOW!”
I put my row in this order:
- I want to write another chapter on the chapter book WIP. I’d been putting that on a shelf, because it isn’t required for the workshop, and who knows what direction I’ll be going when I’m on the other side of all that learning. But I realized this chapter is calling to me, I can see my MC struggling and coming out (temporarily) ahead by the end. This sounds fun, and fun is good. Assuming the snow settles a bit, that’s the writing I’ll do this weekend.
- I’ll plot and think and brainstorm and get a first draft out of the new idea. When this year started, I had what I thought was four picture book manuscripts worth revising for (eventually) querying agents. Since then I’ve drafted and revised two new ideas into stories with a lot more potential. It’s clear to me that only one of those original ideas is good enough to revise right now, and the other three need to go on a shelf. I think this newest idea is another good one, and I want to get it drafted. Then I’ll be back to a stack of four, and a much stronger hope that I can turn them into something ready to show agents.
- After the workshop, I ‘ll move into revision-only mode on my picture books. Four is enough, and I want to keep doing the hard work and getting more feedback from my critique group. I never say never, but at this point, I may not go on another idea hunt until Tara Lazar’s Storystorm comes around in January. (Which, the way time has been feeling lately, is right around the corner!) My goal is to start querying, and revision is going to be the best path toward that goal.
- I’m not making any hard decisions about the chapter book until after the workshop. I may find out that this story idea just doesn’t have the potential for today’s market. I may find out that I’m on the right track, and I may “depart” from Highlights as or more excited about the story as I am right now. If the latter happens, then I’ll toss that ball into the air and have it handy to work on anytime I need to let all four picture books simmer for a few days.
Believe me, I’m perfectly aware that this list is my brain’s attempt to glue my snow globe to a shelf and keep anything else from shaking it up, and I’m even more aware that actuality is out of my control. But I’m looking at my plan as being like a snow shovel. If I don’t pick it up and do some clearing while I can, I’m never going to be able to get my car out of the driveway. (Not that I’ve ever held a snow shovel.)
How are you handling the chaos these days? Feel free to share any tricks and tips in a comment!