Content

So, you ask, does the title refer to the content of a book, or being content in life?

It is both. You see, I’ve discovered some things about my writerly self. It is easiest for me to write when I am happy. It is harder for me to write when I am unhappy. But, it is hardest to write when I am content. In other words, being content means I produce little content. See? Both.

I began the new year with the determination to turn off the screens and read more. I have done that. I set a goal of 50 books this year and I’m almost to 40. The free time also set my mind to niggling at problem areas of my book, which along with feedback from critique partners, helped me delve back into a rewrite. Success on that front.

Already feeling a slower pace of life from reading more, I then discovered a meditation/breathing technique that calms anxiety and finally allowed me to sleep well after over 20 years of interrupted sleep and constant weariness. It’s amazing how much more manageable problems seem when you’ve had a good night’s sleep.

The biggest problem I have to manage is my finances, and I can’t say all the worry from that is gone. I’m slowly depleting what’s left of my savings, but all the things that truly matter in life are in place. My work is fulfilling, I’ve found my tribe, and I’m strong and healthy. And with better sleep and less anxiety I can appreciate all that even more. Thus, I am content.

Yes, being a published author is an unfulfilled goal, but since I’m content, I’m happy to keep journeying. If the road leads to a career in writing and I don’t live my senior years trying to figure out how to keep a roof over my head, that’s a bonus.

The down side to all this contentment… it’s hard to find the motivation to spend hours a day carefully reading each sentence of my manuscript, making sure it says exactly what I want it to say. There’s just no rush.

Pitchwars is coming up, so I have that as a deadline, but it’s still far enough away that I don’t feel the pressure. And I wonder, should I just start querying again and skip the mentor contest? That would give me a more immediate goal and keep me rewriting. After all, I now have a killer query letter and I think the first 10 pages will grab the reader. Do I just go for it? However, I see so many Pitchwars mentees get book deals after having a mentor help them.

I think I will wait and submit again, because if I submit and get no requests, I will know I still have work to do, and won’t have burned through any agents. Sadly, that decision won’t speed up my editing process, and it will be even longer before I start querying again.

That’s okay. What’s a few more months when you’re content and enjoying the scenery.

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Schedule Schmedule

The sale of the house fell through. Now it’s back to a holding pattern as other offers are considered. So, for the first time since finding myself unemployed, I have extra time on my hands. I look for jobs, just in case I find something that could convince me to stay. So far, that has not happened. I take long walks. And I have watched far too much TV. Made my way through Breaking Bad, finally. Unfortunately, I already knew the ending since The Soup decided to show the final scene shortly after it aired. It wasn’t as bad as when I typed in a monologue joke revealing the ending of The Sixth Sense long before I saw the movie, but it was still annoying. The Late Late Show writers found that so funny. I did not. The experience of that story was lost to me forever.

It is easy to let the days slip by doing little projects here and there, waiting for some sort of news about the sale of the house, and watching series I’d had in my queue for years. It’s easy to convince myself that I’ll get into a writing routine when I am settled into my new location. However, as the days have slipped by, I find myself growing more discontent. While I love lazy days, a whole string of them does not lead to happiness. I need a schedule – a routine. Oh, the annoyance that brings to someone who cherishes their freedom! Yet every writer knows that the difference between a wannabe dabbler and a professional writer is discipline. A professional writes even when they don’t feel like it — when they’re not inspired – even when it’s not fun. A dabbler writes when all the planets align, they feel inspired, and there is absolutely no other errand or chore they can think of to do. I’ll admit, that’s been me far too often.

So this week, my goal is to establish a schedule that works until it is time to leave. There are five things that must be accomplished in order for me to feel satisfied. 1) Physical activity in the form of yoga or a long walk. 2) Meditation 3) Writing 4) Reading 5) Writing-related activities such as searching out writing contests, writing and publicizing this blog, or looking for freelance writing and editing work. Those are the goals I must build into a schedule and be disciplined about following. Woe for my false sense of freedom and sloth. Hooray for productivity¬†and joy. It’s a decent trade.

 

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