Challenges

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I’ve been head down and buried in work for the past couple of weeks, which feels really good after all of the paperwork and drudgery of February. It’s been tough to balance because each of my three projects feels rather urgent, although in reality, two of them have a little bit of give when it comes to deadlines.

Project #1 is a collaboration with my husband — our first! We’re still calling it the Secret Project (#sekritproject) but will hopefully be able to announce in 4-5 weeks? Eep! That one is imminent.

I got my first editorial letter from my agent earlier this month, which was super insightful and is pushing me to dig deep into revision. I’ve decided to try outlining in a slightly new way — I’ve switched to a spreadsheet instead of using Scrivener, although I will continue to compose and edit in Scrivener. The spreadsheet method is letting me add as many columns of information as I’d like to track in a simple way (each scene’s description along with questions, notes, and fine points regarding character goals, role of the scene, etc.), and I can easily view everything and switch tabs to see my current draft’s outline. Naturally I set up some conditional formatting to color code each scene by arc because I love anything that gives me visual insight into the novel’s flow.

And finally there’s my PhD. My advisor dropped by last week with some potentially good news about fall teaching and asked for an update. I gave him one, and he had some really helpful feedback that as usual included about five additional references and a list of ideas and questions to consider.

One of the things I like best about my advisor is that he understands all of the different things that I’m juggling and works with me to develop reasonable work loads and timelines. He never hesitated about my starting a PhD with a 15 month old or told me to take a break from writing fiction or anything else. In fact, he seems to really appreciate that I have a full life outside of academia. But he also doesn’t cut me any slack when it comes to my work.

I’ve been feeling pretty lucky this month about having people in my life who challenge me to dig more deeply into my work and to really push myself but who also think I can do it. I love a good challenge — especially when I can rise to meet it!

The next few weeks promise to be intense as we try to wrap up and launch the Secret Project. Stay tuned for details…

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