Momentum vs. Deadlines vs. Why I Write

Right now, I am overwhelmed. I have my daughter visiting from Scotland for 6 weeks–yay! And next week one of my sisters is visiting from Florida for a week–yay! This is very good news, but…the additional household duties plus fun stuff plus visiting time = less work time.

I have (as usual) many different projects at different stages, and I need to figure out where to put my best efforts. What I am most entrenched in at the moment is the book that I’m writing for children’s writers. It’s under no deadline because I’m indie publishing it. But I had planned to write it earlier this year, and I’ve already had to delay it twice. I feel like if I could just devote a solid month to it I could get it done, and it’s frustrating me that I can’t do it.

I have also been in a morass of research and emails for back matter for my forthcoming picture book. What sounded so simple–a few foreign words sprinkled throughout–has turned into a real time suck, as I’m trying to confirm culturally specific, colloquial versions of these words, double-checking with native speakers in many countries. I’m still working on that.

Also, I just got a revision note from my editor about a poetry picture book that will be coming out in 2019. The editor asked if I could have my new version back to her the same day (of course) that my sister leaves to go back home. My editor is not a slave driver. She is very kind, and she knows I have family visiting. However, she’s working under a tight schedule and understandably wants the manuscript back as soon as I am able to do that.

I’ve been getting increasingly stressed. This morning, though I’m feeling slightly clearer. My energy, my momentum, is with the making a living as a children’s writer book. But when I look at the career goals I really want to reach, and where my heart is, I know that working on my trade books has to be my top priority. Not my indie-published books for writers, although I want to do those, too. And for the back matter book, an intern at the publisher is starting to help with that research.

I have decided that any bit of time and thought I have for the next few days is mostly going to go into the poetry revision. That has to be my top priority. Even though my momentum is really with another project right now, I know that once I open the manuscript and look at my editor’s notes, I will be excited to dig in, answer her questions, and make the manuscript the best it can possibly be.

I feel good about that. Oh! Except, I almost forgot. I also have a library event the day before my sister flies home. In fact, Maddie and Patty, my daughter and sister, are going with me on a little road trip. That deadline is not movable in any way. I want to blow away the librarian with my great presentation, and I want to get the kids there really excited about writing poetry. So, change of plans. Today (Saturday is a work day for me) I will finish that presentation preparation. Then I will breathe a sigh of relief.

Thennnnn, working on that trade manuscript revision will be my top priority in whatever work time I can carve out.

Once again, the making a living book for children’s writers is going to have to go on the back burner. Sob–I’m sorry, book, but maybe simmering for a while will be good for you!

Sometimes, when I have the luxury of time, I can write on the project I feel the most momentum in. Sometimes, when I have a speaking or writing deadline, I have to put that first. And sometimes, I have to put other projects aside to work on the project I care most about, the project that supports my bigger goals as a writer. I’m sure this will end up being the right decision! It’s just hard setting aside another project I feel so ready to FINISH! But every project is always there waiting patiently, ready to be pulled from that back burner and put onto the heat again.

Juggling projects, making decisions, and switching course on a regular basis is just part of being a working writer!


About Laura Purdie Salas

children's writer, poet, reader, visiting author, speaker/teacher, mentor, copyeditor, freelance writer
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2 Responses to Momentum vs. Deadlines vs. Why I Write

  1. carolegerber says:

    Yikes! The good: Visitors you love. The bad: So much to do in so little time. In the midst of all this activity, I hope you will be able to get plenty of sleep and turn some of this over to your subconscious, Laura. BTW, I just got your book: Book Speak! (Clarion, 2011). It is WONDERFUL! If you have even one moment of doubt about whether you can revise the 2019 book on schedule, go back and read these (and other) fantastic poems you have already published. 🙂

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