Saturday, December 8, 2012

Knowing When to Jump

There is one surefire way to tell how busy a person is at any given time period, and that is to go check out their blog. If they blog is silent, the blogger is busy. If the blog is busy--well, either the blogger finally has time to catch up on things, or they're one of those superhero types who can juggle a blog and a job and a personal life and winter flu while, like, remembering to shower every day as well.

I am not that kind of person.

I am, however, an ambitious person. And often that ambition has gotten me into trouble.
Such as now. Once again it's finals season for college students across the US, and those of us who have to design final projects for our classes are scrambling to come up with shiny ideas we can complete by finals deadline. Some semesters my problem is coming up with the ideas. Most of the time my problem is that my ideas are too good; too big. Too, ahem, ambitious.

I swear to you, every single semester I chant to myself, I will think simple this time around. I will only work on manageable projects. I won't start anything unless I'm sure I can finish it.

And every semester, my creative side manages to squirm it's way free when I'm not looking, when I thought I was safe with this project or that project; and then I'm stuck spending in the labs at school, tugging at my hair and making little moaning sounds at my computer screen.

Though I'm getting better with this, it still happens. A lot. And it doesn't just happen with finals. I'll get a great idea for a creative project and I'll think, "Oh. Ooooh. What if?--I could do that now--I wonder if my friends would help--"

And before you know it, I have a new project on my plate.

Thing is, though I can get carried away with the idea of a project, I'm usually pretty good at recognizing when it's not going to be realistic for me to try and work on. I'm very good at taking things off my plate until life is manageable again, even if I really liked those things. But that's gotten me into the bad habit of coming up with awesome ideas, brainstorming them like crazy, and then backing off and never returning to them. Which is inconsistent. And I hate being inconsistent.

The only way I've found around this is to be cautious. To not jump on ideas a soon as I have them. To try and plan ahead, and mete out my time, and then stick with the projects I've already committed to like oh hey that NOVEL I'm supposed to be writing and maintain a balance with it all.

But the final kink is that, as a result of all that, I tend to get nervous. I start out cautious and do my planning ahead and commit to a project and do all the work, but then when it comes time to take the next step, I get all uncertain and panicky. There's a leap of faith you have to make some point, with any sort of important endeavor. And I often have a hard time knowing when to jump.

I'm not alone in this. A lot of people get freaking out by the jumping bit. People edit their novels forever because they are afraid of what comes next; people never start writing because they're afraid it will suck; people research agents endlessly because they're afraid they'll get rejected.

And yes. It's important to be ready. Yes, you might be more prepared in two months, or life might get less crazy after the holidays, or spring might be a better time to start querying. But there will always be something. In the spring, the publishing world is busy gearing up for summer conferences and releases. In the summer, everyone is busy attending conferences and releases, and they often close to querying. In fall, everyone is recovering from the summer, and it's back to school, back to work, back to busy. And then it's winter, and everyone is busy doing Nano, and making New Years Resolutions to submit their novels, and then they submit their novels; and publishing is inundated. And then it's spring again.

There is always something to avoid, always a better time a little ways ahead. You can't avoid them. You can only try to be wise with your timing as best as you can, and then take the plunge.

- - -

I say all of this because I am nervous. I have been daydreaming and thinking and brainstorming and, finally, working in secret, on a Super Secret Web Project that would revolutionize my online presence. I have been wanting to do something like this for, yikes, ages now. But the "something" was always evolving as I grew as a writer. I always felt I should wait until I finished drafting X novel, then editing, then perhaps I should wait until I was on submissions, but oh, then maybe I should wait and see if submissions went successfully or not; and on and on.

Last summer, I had big plans to finish editing MIRRORPASS and throw a huge blog contest, and line it up with the launch of Secret Web Project. Then it felt wiser to wait. Secret Web Project needed more work. The summer had been tough. Things were falling through. I decided to put the project launch off until December, when I was on break from school, and after having more time to work on it.

And now it is December, I have a novel on submission; I'm drafting a new novel that I told myself I could complete in 2012; I have finals to complete and next semester to prepare for; I have graduation and all of next year to worry about (career! Somewhere to live! Paying back student loans!) I miss my family and I went to spend break with them, cooking exotic recipes I found on Pinterest, reading books together, going to see The Hobbit in theater, reconnecting with a cross-country besty, and oh yeah, shooting a short film my sister and I have been brainstorming together.

I'm crazy.

The thing is...Secret Project is essentially ready. Sure, I'm tweaking it still. But it's ready.

My personal circumstances are right. I have a novel in the works. I have a novel on submission. I've had agent interest. The ball is rolling.

Everything is how I wanted it to be, and yet, I'm unsure. Doing so much blogging lately, I've wanted to get back to interviewing debut authors, and I've been second-guessing myself; should I wait to contact them until I launch Secret Project? Agents have my queries with the *Headdesk* blog address. Should I hold off submitting the next batch of queries until Secret Project launches, so as not to confuse everyone? Would it seem preemptive of me to launch Secret Project before I have an agent? Some of the most exciting bits of Secret Project are things I know other authors would discuss with their agents before implementing.

Because here's the thing: Secret Project really isn't that radical* to anybody but me. Launching it is me taking the next step in my writing career. It's me making a real point, for the first time ever, in marketing to my audience and trying to build that audience up.

Really what it is is this--anticipating that my career is going somewhere soon, and changing my web presence accordingly. But the "soon" is relative. I can't tell, relatively, how soon that "soon" will be.

Which for me, as a Christian, is where I take a step back and start seeking God about all this. Because He knows exactly when things will line up, and how, and how long I should wait, and when I should jump. It doesn't stop being scary--it still requires faith. It still means I have this crazy month of December to try and slough through. More convenient times will always appear a few months off on the horizon, and I will always feel like I need more time to prepare.

But one of the deeply encouraging things about God is that when He moves, there's no stopping Him. And His timing is always right. And if I pull myself together long enough to stop worrying about this and actually listen to Him, this will work out in the exact way it is supposed to.

Bottom line? Something big is probably, likely, going to be happening here on the blog sometime around New Year's. Or it might wait. Because when it does happen, it's going to be at the right time; and that right time feels soon--but I don't know for certain. I'm trusting the only person who does. So until then, please bear with the vague hints I might drop, the semi-announcements, the hang-wringing and the nervous excitement--I'm getting there. I'm jumping.


Truly and always,
-Creative A

*I did not start this post intending to talk about Super Secret Web Project, but the more I talked the more unintentional hints I dropped, until I realized it sounded like I was going to switch genres or try self publishing or something crazy. So I did just want to say it's nothing like that. It's like what I'm already doing now, except better and more professional, and free stuff is involved. But that's all I'm going to say for now, because DANG IT I CAN KEEP A SECRET IF I TRY SO THERE.


Chandler Craig said...

Hey Stranger! I was so glad to see this post! I'm thrilled that things are moving forward and that you're writing so much!

Send me an update!

Creative A said...

Oh my gosh! HEY YOU! This comment made my day; you have no idea.

Update forthcoming!

The Wicked Writer said...

well done, new projects are always fun at the start, wishing you well.

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