I am a big believer in setting goals and giving myself timelines. I'll often find myself in a conversation and people will ask about my writing. I'll tell them I have about six weeks left to finish a book. Inevitably, they'll ask, "Who's giving you that deadline?" I sometimes feel a little silly telling them that the driving force is me. I set the deadline. When I tell them, they usually give a glib answer about how I can just move that deadline. And they're right. I could. It's not even hard. I'm not delusional enough to believe a book being two months late will throw the universe of its axis. But what it comes down to is my own drive to get things done.
As an independent author, I'm in charge of most aspects of my books. I do have an editor or two that I work with. I have friends in graphic design who help me sometimes. I have a wonderful team of beta readers, who not only help the flow of the story, but also put out the flames of imposter syndrome when they strike, and even put out the flames of real fire when I'm threatening to burn whatever draft I'm working on. Kidding... Mostly. But when it comes down to it, the motiation to get something done falls on me.
This year, I had big plans. I planned to release a book in April, May, June, July and August. Then, September would be a month off. October and November I would write my Christmas novel and release it in late November. Well... it's the second to last day of July and I haven't released ANYTHING this year. I wish I could pinpoint what happened. But, in reality, it was a lot of things that happened. First and foremost, this handsome fellow is to blame.
Jack was my rescue mustang. I found him skinny and brokedown. He was the last thing I needed in late 2019, and yet, when I looked into his eyes, I couldn't leave him in that awful place. I brought him home. It took months to bond at all. He thought I horsenapped him and screamed and ran the fenceline for weeks. It was actually writing that brought us together. I needed to get Christmas with Granny McPherson done, and I needed to bond with him. I would take my labtop into the pasture and work while he glared for hours. Eventually, he let me pet him. But only his rear. He'd back up to my chair and I'd work one handed while I rubbed his bum. Only issue there was when I stopped, he'd threaten to sit on my computer like a lap dog... It got better from there. But the bum rubs never stopped. It was his favorite.
That was 2019. What does Jack have to do with 2021? Well, I was told he was 18 when I got him. He wasn't. He was much older. This year his back and hind legs started failing. it became a constant battle to keep him from getting stuck. He struggled with the heat. He battled pain and injury. But he still loved me more than anything and fought through it all. But it meant I was out with him a lot. Which I never minded. But it took me away from my writing a lot. I said my final goodbye to him this month, and I'll admit it's been a rough go at it. For two years, he's been one of my closest friends. I saved his life over and over and I felt like he did the same for me. In the last week, I've written more than I did all year. It's rather bittersweet.
My beta team has had a rough year too. Job changes, family crisis, work schedules, you name it, they've faced it. It's hard for them to read my rough drafts when they've got so much on their plates already. So, that part of the process has come to a bit of a halt as well.
Add to it that we are still in a pandemic, and hey, I'll be happy that I'm still breathing and moving forward. Also, parenting a pre-teen isn't easy. Apparently, that takes a little time and effort too.
I'm not complaining. I'm explaining. I feel like I need to. Not just to my readers who were expecting a summer series like last year... did I mention it's the end of July? But to myself, because I feel like I let myself down by not hitting my goals. But the truth is, sometimes we have to recalculate where that finish line is going to be. I have one rough draft done. I have a random mystery series professionally edited with a cover waiting while I decide if it's mine or a pen name's. I started Kindle Vellas on a whim and even created a pen name for some of them (Elle Davis). I'm 75% through a first draft on what used to be the summer series(Can't call it that when it's almost fall), and I'm CONSTANTLY plotting in my head.
Oh yeah, and I decided in May that I'm going to finish my bachelor's degree online... because I'm just swamped with free time. (That was sarcasm).
Point being, life happens. I wouldn't give up a single memory I've made with Jack in the last 6 months. I'm glad my beta readers are living their best lives despite trials. The world doesn't, much to my chagrin, revelove around books.
So here I am again, replotting, replanning, and realizing I can try again. I'd like to tell you my plan, but I don't know. I'm still pushing forward. I'm still trying. I'm definitely writing, and I'm always grateful for my readers who stay beside me.
Life throws you curveballs. Sometimes you swing and get lucky, and sometimes you step back and say I'll wait for something better. I learned a long time ago that everything happens in a season. 2020 was my year to publish all the things. 2021 has been the opposite. But I don't stop. Stick with me, the best is yet to come.