May 2020 Book Update

The answer to “So how’s the book coming?”

Since stay-at-home orders were issued in my state, I have been both more and less productive in every aspect of life. I thought I’d take this opportunity to update you all on what I’m doing and planning for my writing life and career at this point.

My Day Job

For those who are unaware, my day job is as an administrative assistant for the owner of several local restaurants.

At first, I was still working my 40-hour work week, stressed out of my mind and having anxiety attacks every work day, sometimes in the bathroom at work, sometimes on my way home, and sometimes at home pacing around my apartment. So it was with great pleasure that I furloughed myself (I work in the corporate office and was standing in for HR at the time) and took just about a whole week off.

I took a couple of days completely off to rest and destress, but then I noticed I was getting all these ideas. I went back to my novel and poked at it. I started creating a new outline for it. Having some time off was like taking several deep breaths of fresh air, and I was able to create again.

After that blissful week, my work was awarded the Payroll Protection Program loan, and I was asked to come back part time. I agreed to come in for one full day (there really are things that need to be done in the office; we still get mail) and work the rest of the time from home.

My one week off and these new part-time hours instilled new life in me. It was as if I’d gotten my life back. Giving away 40 precious hours of energy had been eating away at me for a year and a half, and it finally hit me when I didn’t need to give that up anymore.

So earlier this week, I told my boss that when the dust settled, I didn’t want to come back full time. I said that I needed more time to work on my career, the thing I wanted to do with the rest of my life, my novel-writing. He was very supportive and congratulated me, and he also expressed gratitude they weren’t losing me completely just yet.

A New Routine?

I’ve been trying my damndest to establish a new work-from-home routine. I know that on the day I go into the office I won’t be able to get any writing done, but it’s the days that I work from home that I’ve been having problems with.

Ideally, I’ll work my day job from 8:00 to 11:00 am because that’s when I’m most alert. That’s the job where other people are relying on me, so I need to give them that consistency. Then, I’d write from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm, break for lunch, and continue writing from 1:00 to 5:00 pm.

The lunch break is where I’ve been having a problem. After I eat lunch, I get very sleepy and want to take a 2-hour nap (despite setting an alarm and telling myself it will only be for 20 minutes). I’ve tried everything to combat this. I’ve tried eating a low-carb lunch, drinking four cups of water before lunch, taking a walk after lunch, sitting in the sun before/after/during lunch… Nothing seems to work for me. I even had my thyroid checked, and it’s perfectly fine!

“Not Getting Any Work Done”

So lately, I’ve fallen into this trap of “not getting any work done.” I just don’t have the mental capacity to write in the evening when I’m focused on dinner, cleaning up, and getting ready for bed, and apparently I don’t have the energy to write in the afternoon. I can’t go to any coffee shops or anywhere after lunch to work where I can’t sleep, and I can’t afford to rent an office (honestly, I’d probably fall asleep on the floor anyway).

This morning, I came across this Instagram post by Amanda Palmer, and I realized I have been getting “work” done. I’ve been cleaning my home and taking care of my body, which is plenty of work in the stressful quarantine times. No wonder I can’t stay awake after lunch.

View this post on Instagram

“work” has been fully redefined. that’s fine. i managed in the last 48 hours to successfully “work”. i managed to: generally delight and distract a 4-year old, cook a lot of food, walk many foot-steps including many foot-steps with the 4-year-old hanging on my back or front, do a full load of laundry finally, contact four potential kindergartens, have phone conversations that were longer than 3 minutes with friends i love, read richard scarry’s “the supermarket mystery” aloud at least 5 times, “the great pie robbery” probably just as many, gave two relatively successful haircuts, figured out the basic chords and right hand to “you’re welcome” from moana in order to placate the 4-year-old, cleaned some leaves off some things, fed the chickens, managed not to let the weird hateful internet people not bother me (too much), cleaned the grime under the kitchen sink, taught a lesson about what a fist is and why you never raise it at another person, collected some dead bugs from the windowsills in here (and fed them straight to the chickens), lit some candles, found some apple-cores that had mysteriously rolled places (again, chickens), made headway in collecting some new piano tracks into a dropbox folder for their intended collaborator, watched many many fucking dishes and managed, basically, to stay relatively cheerful through at least 80% of the day. i cannot say i’ve really checked my email or even answered all of my texts and DMs or done any of that crazy stuff we used to actually, in the Before Times, call “work”. hahahaha. this is work. this is a lot of fucking work. i’m proud of my work. whatever you’re doing, i’m proud of your work too. even if you’re just sort of staying alive. that’s work. take pride in the fact that you’ve managed to keep yourself here and alive. gold stars all around, everybody. i love you. 🏆

A post shared by Amanda Palmer (@amandapalmer) on

The Actual Book Update

SO! All of that said, how’s the actual book coming? Actually, pretty good.

In April, I wrote an entirely new outline. I realized I had no plan for the midpoint, which was why I got stuck back in November, and then when I came up with a good idea for the midpoint, I realized I needed to rewrite the whole thing. I planned out every scene, which makes writing a breeze for me.

I’ve written about 6,300 words, which is definitely less than I wanted when I was first furloughed and had visions of grandeur, but more than I’ve written in the 3 months before the stay-at-home order!

The book is called Spark From an Ember, and it will be the first in an eight- (maybe ten) part series. Bounty hunter Ember River enjoys a simple life killing supernatural monsters, known as supes, with her brother Coal, but when their mentor is killed by a heart-eating sojuwa, their search for vengeance will uncover the truth about supes, the theocratic government, and their distant family.

My goal is to have it self-published by the end of the year, so look out for more monthly updates!

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