It’s been just over a year since I left the day job for the freedom of freelance editing and writing. Although I’m no longer officially involved in the academic world, September still feels like the start of a new year to me—much more than January, and I suspect it always will. As I re-start the blog after its long summer vacation, it feels like a good time to take stock of the past year, of what I’ve done and where I’m going, and of what I want to do here in this space with the blog.
What have I learned?
- Leaving the day job isn’t a magic bullet. I still struggle with insomnia, waking up in the middle of the night, unable to get my mind to shut down; I still have days when I don’t feel my best; I still have moments of doubt and depression. Yet, overall I am much happier with my day-to-day existence than I was before.
- I need to remind myself to be grateful that I am able to work from home, set my own schedule, and do the things that are most important to me. I got used to the new routine very quickly! It feels so natural now that I have to stop and tell myself that I am truly privileged.
- There are still only 24 hours in a day. I’m still learning to manage my time: when to wake up; setting my morning routine; when to exercise; how to balance taking care of myself (time to prepare healthy meals and take daily walks) with accomplishing the writing and other tasks that are important to me. The one cardinal rule that I established back when I was working full time still holds: first things first. For me, that means once the morning routine is done I go immediately to the book I’m working on, 5 days a week.
- The importance of the online community. My critique partners and my wonderful developmental editor are all people whom I have yet to meet face to face, yet they provide so much support for me as a writer that I truly can’t imagine trying to finish and polish a book without their moral support and critical input. I also love the connections that I’ve made with fellow bloggers who write about subjects that are close to my heart: green living things; writing and books; deeper questions of life and spirituality.
What have I accomplished?
- I finished polishing and tweaking my genre-bending novel CHIMERA, which deals with a Jesuit priest on sabbatical in Paris who runs into a talking gargoyle on Notre Dame.
- I began a completely new novel for middle-grade/tween kids, about a 13-year-old witch who must cope with her family’s mysterious move to the “mortal” world. Thanks to my wonderful critique partner, Gigi Pandian, who read through the first draft, and my equally wonderful editor, Ramona Defelice Long, who critiqued the first 50 pages, I’m now close to finishing a polished revision that will be ready for my other “critters” and Ramona’s eagle eye this fall.
- I completed a short story, “The Black Cat,” and drafted another, “Saint Nick and the Easter Rabbit,” which I intend to finish polishing once the middle-grade novel is done.
- All in all, a very productive year for me, and I feel pleased with the results.
What’s ahead for the blog?
- I have a number of interviews scheduled with authors of historical fiction, and I’m quite excited to have these folks as my guests:
Sept. 18 Jeri Westerson, The Crispin Guest series
In these “medieval noir” books, disgraced former knight Crispin Guest turns his talents to private investigation in 14th-century London.
Oct. 9 Liz Zelvin, Voyage of Strangers
Young marrano sailor Diego returns from a voyage of discovery to find that his sister Rachel is in danger from the Inquisition as a secret Jew. After failing to find safety in Spain, they sail with Admiral Columbus on the second voyage to Hispaniola, where they must struggle with divided loyalties as the Spaniards’ greed for gold and conquest clashes with the local Taino people’s way of life.
Oct. 16 Judith Starkston, Hand of Fire
Hand of Fire, a tale of resilience and hope, blends history and legend in the untold story of Achilles’s famous captive, Briseis.
Oct. 23 Judith Rock, The Charles du Luc series
Mystery series featuring a Jesuit priest in 17th-century Paris
- I’ll also continue to write posts on nature, my personal “saints,” poetry and books, and whatever else happens to take my fancy.
- End of speech. Wishing everyone a Happy New Fall!