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2014 is bringing in a lot of changes for me. My big bit of news is that I've accepted a full time job. In Brisbane. I start on the 20th, so am moving cities and climates. I'm heading to the tropics to grow fat on mangoes.
After making such a thing of leaving my job in June to follow my dreams, I thought I should give you a bit of insight into why I'm throwing myself back into the world of work.
When I started writing and blogging, I listened to podcasts about people who had lost their job, or given it up, and used it to make writing and blogging work for them. They said it was one of the best things that ever happened to them. So while I was struggling away working all day, then trying to write and blog morning and night, I grumbled that if I could give up my job, suddenly I would make it too.
So at the end of June 2013 I took the leap. I was prepared to do everything necessary to make this work. I was prepared to give up my apartment, giveaway all my possessions, and go nomadic to reduce my costs.
And it was definitely the right decision at the time. I was burnt out and exhausted. Trying to do a job that involved sitting at a computer all day thinking while spending all my free time sitting at a computer thinking was not working.
The thing I forgot is that I'm completely hopeless without routines. If you want something done, give it to a busy person. Since quitting my job, I have got less writing and blogging done, let my websites fall apart, and loss the help of my virtual assistant who I let off as I would have the time to do her tasks myself, but not the money.
I had given myself until the end of the year to make it work. But two things became clear as that date approached. 1. I wasn't going to make it. 2. I didn't want to stop.
And then this job appeared.
I am going to be working at an Anglican girls' school as a boarding house supervisor. My day starts at 3pm and goes through to 11pm, and my role is to supervise the girls with their afternoon activities, dinner, study time (also providing academic support, reading essay drafts etc., which will be great, as long as they don't need help with calculus) and then see them to bed. As part of my package, I can have permanent accommodation, meals during term time, and all my bills paid. My own little room with en suite, all at no extra cost.
So, just to get this straight, I'm getting a full time wage, but with school holidays, my own little study room, and I don't have to do anything before 3pm so can get a few hours of writing done each day? I get to work in a role that is constantly moving and building relationships, rather than sitting at a desk all day? In a very structured environment that encourages studying, reading and writing? And I get great inspiration to write my own St. Trinians style boarding house book?
Yes, I am praising God. I cannot think of any way that this role could be better, and it means that I get to continue writing with no financial worries. Exciting, no?
What sort of writer do you think you are? Better with structure or without it? How can you optimise 2014 for your writing needs?
So, my writing schedule for 2014.
I'm going to continue doing first drafts, and hope to turn some of them into publishable material during the school holidays. But this year I've decided to try grouping the drafts, so that I work within the same genre for a term, hopefully allowing me to develop a strong and more authentic voice for each genre.
So far, the plan looks like this:
Term 1: Romance.
I have one regency romance I started years ago which I want to give a go, Charlotte Dryden.
Then I'm going to spend two months on a contemporary romantic serial. It's going to work like a TV season, with individual episodes released every two weeks (short novellas of about 15,000 words), which have an overarching plotline that gets resolved within the six episodes to make a season/book.
It sounds like an exciting structure, and will help me to keep getting stuff out, but will have to see if it all works out. If it does, I might try a second season, or I might move onto a new romance draft.
Term 2: Non-fiction.
I'm turning back to the rest of the Five Day Writer's series. I have published the first book, and finished the first draft of the second book. While I'm working on my romances, I hope to be able to edit this draft and get it published probably in the holidays. So I'll start this term writing Book 3 - The Drafting Affair, then Book 4 - The Editing Mystery, Book 5 - Online Presence Spellbook, and finally Book 6 - Publishing and Promotion Challenge. If I have time, will think of another non-fiction I want to write.
Term 3: Ancient Near Eastern Fantasy
As an Old Testament/Archaeology scholar, I have wanted to write a middle-grade fantasy series based in an Ancient Near Eastern type world for ages. I'm going to start off with a series of shorter adventure stories for boys, based in a world very similar to Ancient Israel a few generations after King David, but where the north and the south never split. These are not going to be a serial, in that they won't be that connected, but more like the Famous Five, or Secret Seven books. It will have the same characters but new adventures each time. Not quite sure how many there will be, so leaving room that I might work on something else if I only get plots for one or two.
Term 4: Australian fiction.
This is a new idea, I don't really have much developed yet, but I've been reading 'My Brilliant Career', and want to write a series of adventures set in Australia. They will be light reading, but aimed at adults, not children. More than that, I cannot yet say.
So that's the general structure of my year. Right now I'm still plodding away finish the theology book, which keeps getting bigger and bigger. It was meant to be 35-40,000 and right now is just sitting on 55,000. It has also taken a lot of rearranging, and struggling with concepts. I apologise it has taken so long to write, but am very happy with the end result. I have been saying this for quite a while, but eventually it has to come true: I think I'm almost finished. I'm definitely in the last part, and want to try and finish it tomorrow. It will be a good start to the New Year to have the complete draft of that book.
I should also mention that I'm starting my reading challenge.
When I moved out of my apartment, I took every book off my bookshelf that I had never actually read and put them in their own box. There are about 32 books, and I'm setting the goal to read all of them by the end of the year. I reserve the right not to finish anything that I decide is too boring or pointless to read, but will attempt all 32.
Part of the reason is to stop having books on my shelf I can't answer questions about, but also the challenge will keep me inspired and refreshed while I write. When I get really busy, I tend to see reading as too self-indulgent, that I should be doing 'work' instead. But I just need to keep reminding myself that as a writer, reading is my work!
I'm a little ahead as I started 'My Brilliant Career' just a few days ago, and finished it yesterday and have moved onto 'My Career Goes Bung'. But there is more than enough reading to be done. And I'm sure a few new books will turn up during the year which I will just have to read.
So, that's it from me for the moment.
If you want to be the first to receive a review copy of any books I bring out this year, sign up to the mailing list on the left sidebar. I promise I won't try to sell you anything, just offer free copies of books in exchange for honest reviews.
Don't forget you still have one more day to enter the New Years Book Giveaway.
What's on your reading list for the year?