Sunday, July 10, 2016

The End of Things

I'm not shutting this blog down, but life is getting in the way and I now have two other blogs to manage (and rather a few social media accounts). So instead of making promises to update, I'm going to promise I won't be updating for a while. I might pop in every now and then to share what I'm up to, but mostly you will be able to find me on my other blogs. I'll post the links to those when they are completely up and running (still in the works) and give you a preview of what I've been working on (new business!)

Happy writing, one and all. It's what makes my life worth living and, I hope, fills yours with joy too.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The First Half of Things

Hard to believe half the year is gone already, but there is goes. Six months ago I was planning a trip to Iceland and thinking that would be the highlight of my year (not to say it wasn't). But things move on, of course, particularly in my life.

And this year has brought changes, in only the first half of it. I'm now self-employed, starting up yet another blog, am much more focused on doing the things I enjoy in life, am querying a novel, am planning more travel (camping! I've never camped!), have taken up golf (again), spend more time enjoying life and less time fretting about it, have officially reached what I would call 'being fit', and have made a few decisions about the future that I am A-OK with.

I'm sure many others have accomplished more in six months. But though I planned for this year to be about 'CAREER', I decided fairly early on it actually needed to be about 'ME'. Last year was supposed to be about me. About learning about who I am now, about figuring out what I want from life, about adjusting to being post-PhD. But I wasn't able to start doing any of that until the end of the year, so instead of rushing through it (which one should never rush through discovering oneself), I decided to spend 2016 doing it instead. And I'm glad I made that choice. It's already taken longer than I would have thought, but at the same time, I'm already discovering more than I thought. I didn't think I was that different now, but I've realised I most certainly am. And I'm still changing. And that's okay.

The next six months are going to be ever more career oriented, but I feel like I am in a much better place to start those things. I feel like I know who I am now and what I want, and therefore I can  now figure out where to go to get it. And how to get there.

It's hard to take the time to figure your life out. We're told that's what high school or undergrad are for. But the truth of the matter is that no one I know actually figured their life out until after undergrad, and some people are still figuring their lives out. And that's okay. There's no magic age by which you need to have done this. Some people spend their lives changing and evolving constantly, and end up figuring their life out again and again. We change, as humans. We evolve. And that's how it should be. We are never quite the same as we were 10 years ago. Or even a year ago. But that is what makes being human so amazing, and why life is so exciting.

I'm not the same as I was a year ago (thankfully) and hopefully in another year I will be different too. Until then, I'm trying to do the best I can at figuring myself and things out as I go along.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Waiting Games

Deciding to query is terrifying. What comes after is...kind of anti-climatic. It's mostly waiting. You send out queries everyday (or every week, whatever your chosen schedule is) and then you wait. Some agents might respond to say no, some might not respond at all, some might get back to you with more optimistic answers (like asking for a full manuscript). But in the end, a lot of it is just waiting, and there's nothing you can really do to make that go faster.

I thought waiting would be horrible. I've never been very good at it. I sucked at waiting for my viva and got more and more anxious as the weeks went by. I was pretty bad at waiting for exams to happen too. And I've never been great at waiting for vacations, especially when they involve international travel.

But I've gotten much better at it now. Hurry up and wait is pretty much a motto of this whole thing, I'm discovering, because even once you're signed there's waiting for publishers to be interested, waiting for editors to get back to you, waiting for the launch, waiting, waiting, waiting. Patience is definitely a virtue of the publishing industry. There's mostly long stretches of nothing, interspersed with short moments of exited terror. Which is life in a nutshell, isn't it?

As always, however, waiting is much easier when you keep busy, and I've definitely been keeping busy. Formulating a business plan is a long thought process and one I'm very familiar with, even if I'm not familiar with business plans. PhD-ing is 80% in your head and only 20% content to show for it (or less, some days). This feels the same way. A lot of months of thinking and planning before there is any pay-off, and publishing appears to be the same way. I am not surprised by this fact.

So I am waiting, hopefully for a good day to come. Until then, I'm keeping busy doing things that I hope will also one day lead to good things. After a year of feeling stuck in the mud, it's good to be walking along the trail again, even if I don't know where that trail is leading.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Business Plans

I have something to admit. I don't have a head for business. I never have. I've never wanted to. Having said that, I've always been fairly decent at math.

I've spent the last two weeks reading about business plans. They are simple, at face value, but actually crafting one is much harder! So far, I've got the headings in place, and a short paragraph about what I need to include in each section. But there are sections I haven't even been able to give thought to yet. In other words...this is going to take a while. But that's all right. Business plans should not be rushed. I want it to be a good, solid plan as I go forward, because that's the foundation I want to build on.

It is simply the first step in a long process. I am going to start keeping a document with blog posts about what I'm going through, and once I've gotten further in this process (realised my mistakes) I'll start posting them on a new blog, so other people can learn from my stumbles and also what worked for me! I hope it might be useful. So look out for that in a couple of months (probably the autumn). I'm also going to try my hand at setting up a whole website, with a blog page, and several other areas that can grow over time. I shall also have to learn how to do that.

Just like everything else in life, it's a learning curve. I kind of feel like starting my PhD all over again, except instead of a degree with an end point, this is the rest of my life! But that makes it more exciting.

So, further up and further in. One baby step at a time.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Trying Something New

So, for those of you who might be humanities buffs, I'm tweeting over at the @WetheHumanities twitter account this week. We call it 'curating', although that's a word choice argument for another time (tomorrow). But I'm managing it, and using it to spark conversation about museums and digital. If that's up your alley, come join.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Surprisingly Exciting

I got my first rejection! And it was both exceedingly polite and encouraging. I feel, well, rather happy about that. It's entirely a positive thing.

I've only queried about 10 agents so far, and most of their websites said 4-6 weeks' response time, so I was rather surprised to hear back from anyone yet (or at all...) I actually hope I get more rejection letters in this vain, because it was at least semi-personal and friendly, rather than just a form. I appreciate the response, anyways, and it gives me hope. And that's really what this is all about. Keep hoping until someone says 'yes!' [And then keep hoping until a publisher says 'yes!']

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Start of...Something

I signed up for Camp NaNo this year (April), but only set my goal as 'edit one novel', which I did. First edit, I mean, because I've a long list of things that need to be done with it now. But I made the list. And I finished the last round on another novel, so I guess I can say I 'achieved' NaNo this spring. It was a month filled with other things, and sometimes that happens.

But it's now May, and I promised myself I would start querying in May. So I have. My goal is to send a query letter out every week day until...well, until the end of the month, at least (which is how many agents I have in my Excel spreadsheet to query to). After that, I have to go looking for more. So that's about 20 or so agents. I'll start looking for more now, though, so I have 20 or so to query in June, and then etc. I could be doing more than one a day, but finding and researching them takes even longer than actually sending out the queries.

[I'll let you know what happens. Maybe I'll be one of those lucky people that doesn't have to send out a 100 before they get an agent. Maybe I won't be lucky at all (lack of luck going around in my life right now).]

I already have Book 2 lined up to query, so I figured I'll give Book 1 a few months, then try Book 2. Often you have to wait up to 8 weeks for a response from an agent anyways, and that's just for them to ask for your manuscript, not read it and report back if they want it. So the agent I queried yesterday might not get back to me with interest until mid-June or later. Or will probably not get back to me at all. Reality check.

I'm gearing up to have a go at the list for the next novel (see first paragraph), though there is A LOT to fix in this novel before I even send it out for beta-reading. And then there is Book 3, which I am blatantly ignoring for the foreseeable future, because it might be borderline crap (the story isn't, the writing is, it was my first novel) and need to just be scrapped and written again. And I can't deal with that right now. I already have another book for NaNo in November already lined up, which needs to be written AND edited that month (it's Middle Grade, it's like 40k). So I think I should just concentrate on editing this one between now and November. And querying the other two.

And if I hear from an agent, all bets are off on that schedule. :D

Further up and further in!