Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Learning to Juggle

As most of you know, I have been dreaming of self-publishing my first MG novel. What many of you may not know is that this year I really started to move toward making that dream a reality.

In late April, I met and started working with a wonderful young graphic artist. She is designing my cover, front and back, as well as a little pretty for the top of each chapter heading. I was so nervous when I first met her. I have zero background in graphic arts and can barely draw a recognizable stick figure. When she asked me to tell her a bit about my book, I fell into the new author syndrome where my mind immediately went blank and I proceeded to describe my characters and plot in a meandering manner.  How in the world could we find the common ground to design a cover that met my vision?! Well, let me tell you – graphic artists are miracle workers! 🙂 Somehow the initial sketches she came back with were exactly what I had been looking for!

I also hired an editor who I began working with in July. I spent the last couple months polishing and frantically rewriting scenes that had always struck me as “not quite.” Suddenly, there was a deadline. 🙂 My editor (wow! that sounds real…) got my manuscript at the end of the month and will do the first round of edits and have it back to me in August. I will turn it back around within a month for the second round of edits. I will tell anyone who has not gotten to this stage yet… Sending your work to a total stranger is a very scary thing- as scary as having your loved ones read your work. 🙂 I am learning that showing your writing to anyone other than the cat is terrifying.

In the midst of all this, I started my next certification class for my day job in late April, too. Yes, I know. I am a glutton for punishment. Maybe by throwing all of this at myself simultaneously I will prove once and for all that objects in motion stay in motion. I am hoping it will help me maintain momentum in my projects. At least that is what I keep telling myself. Anyway, the class runs through August and then I hope to take my 5 hour, 40 minute board exam (YIKES!) in September or October.

My official let’s-make-it-happen approach seems to be throwing all the balls in the air simultaneously and then working my butt off to keep them aloft. Do I recommend this approach to everyone? No. Not because I am some kind of wonder woman and no ordinary mortal could possibly do it. But because most people have lives, and at the moment, I don’t. In order to maintain this level of focus and attention to detail, I have really had to cut back on other things.

Reading, for one, has taken a backseat. I had to do this last year during my certification class and I knew it would happen again. Instead of wallowing in three or four books per week, I am finding that I manage a few chapters per week. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to stop completely. It’s an addiction, I know.

Blogging has taken a lot of pre-planning and scheduling ahead to keep up a steady flow of posts. If you recall, during last year’s class, I had to come to a grinding halt here and I didn’t want that to happen again. So I spent the last few months before class blogging like mad and scheduling posts for the months I knew would be insane.

As far as socializing and family are concerned, I am extremely lucky to have a supportive and loving husband, and very understanding friends. I do still manage to see and talk to them, but not nearly as often as I would like.

If you can put much of your life on hold for long stretches and just focus on what absolutely has to get done, you can succeed at the juggling method of achieving all of your dreams!

What are your strategies for making your dreams happen in the middle of a very busy life?

8 Comments

  1. Feel like I’m failing with mine at the moment – which is perhaps because I’m lacking a strategy! I like your approach – throw yourself into things and make them happen. I’m going to give it a go. Starting tomorrow. Definitely. 😉

    • Just remember to do it in very tiny incremental steps. If you look at the whole project it is so overwhelming you may never get going!

  2. Cindy Hutchinson

    Cheryl I know your felines are spoiled rotten but I didn’t know they could read too ! I wish you much luck with your editor, and your upcoming certification, it’s true that the busier you are the more you can get done, now that I’m not working my motto is much like Scarlett O’hara, “I’ll think about that tomorrow”

    • Cindy, my cats are super talented!! 🙂 I used Scarlett’s motto way too long so now I am trying to go against my nature (leave it to another day) and chipping away at this mountain. 🙂

  3. I found this post inspiring – you’re doing it! You’re making it happen! And not by sitting around hoping and wishing for it, but by putting in the hours…you’re dream is coming true! Congratulations! Yes, I get that giving your writing to a relative stranger is super scary, so hats off to you for taking that step. Truth is I don’t have a strategy at the moment, but reading this makes me realise I need to have one! Which is a start maybe:-) Thanks for sharing – Blessings, Harula xxx

    • Admitting you don’t have a strategy is definitely the first step. 🙂 I spent years thinking oh, I would love to write and publish a book, but never did one thing toward that dream. Now, I don’t even think about the end goal. I just focus on each step. Today, I am going to research ISBN numbers. This week, I am going to work on chapter 12. This weekend, I am going to writer four blog posts to free up my time next week to study. Etc… If I can do this, you can do this!

  4. It’s hard for me to stick with one routine when I am at the mercy of someone else’s schedule — make that many someone elses! So, my strategy varies week to week. I applaud you for your tenacity. Can’t wait to see your book on the shelves.

    • Thanks Kate! Believe me though – my tenacity wanes sometimes. I will review my list of goals for the year and realize that for an entire month, the only thing I can check off is blogging, or not running terrified from my manuscript when I think about the work that lies ahead!

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