I’m in great company. Maybe most authors are like this. At the very least, I found out Sarah Eden is like me. When she announced a few days ago that her books have sold one million copies (congratulations, Sarah!), she wrote, “I’m not usually good at celebrating my author milestones—I tend to just get back to work; that’s just who I am—but I’m going to sit here a while and enjoy this moment.”
“I tend to just get back to work”—yep, that’s me. I did try to celebrate the milestone of my first book’s publication day. Sort of. I told myself I’d make banana chocolate pancakes, and I seem to remember I managed to do that. But I also planned to work all day on my next book, which didn’t end up happening because there was too much work involved in announcing and communicating about my first book. Now maybe you think I should have put together a launch party with friends and family, but who has time for that when there are more, exciting manuscripts to work on?
Last week, I sent my second book to my editor. That’s a huge moment. After working tirelessly on it (is that right? I’d definitely say I’ve been tired) especially the last few months, I’ve gotten it to the most polished place I can get it on my own, and it’s finally in someone else’s hands. I don’t have to worry about it for the next few weeks. That’s amazing!
So what do I do now that I get a break from my second book? I crack down on adding the last few POVs to my third book, ask a friend from a writer’s group to send me her manuscript so I can critique it for her, send my second book to a couple more people for their opinions, and prepare for the title change and other updates to my first book.
I can’t stop. I don’t want to stop. Workplace surveys ask whether you’re able to disconnect from your job outside of work hours, but how can you do that when your job is all in your head? This character, that plotline, that one paragraph you continue to agonize over, and ooh, here’s a great direction to take the story you came up with last night.
Here’s a question for the survey-makers. When your job is something you’re passionate about, do you really want to disconnect from it?
All things fair, I’ve gone on vacation without bringing my laptop. I brought a notebook in case I want to write something, and on some trips, I haven’t so much as cracked it open. Go, me!
Unfortunately, I don’t go on vacation as often as I should. It’s supposed to be at least once a year, right? Oops.
That being said, there are different ways to take a break. For me, a break is writing a brand-new scene for a book I plan to write several manuscripts from now. It's fun! There’s much less pressure about figuring out how to make everything work in that story. I can blithely play around with the scene I imagined out—and if I suddenly end up writing an outline of everything I plan to have happen in that story and point out the spots where there are holes, well, that just feels so good and so exciting that surely it counts as a break. It's a break from the book I’ve worked on for the last two years, the book I’ve re-re-re-re-re-re-re-refined from beginning to end with great scrutiny six days a week for the last two months.
Ahem, yes, I do tend to work six days a week. Like I said, if it’s something you’re passionate about, do you really want to disconnect from it just because it’s Saturday?
I do believe in keeping your life balanced. I enjoy time with family and friends. I’m off to church, the temple, and activities and get-togethers. I go outdoors, I exercise, and I eat great homemade food if I do say so myself. I even disconnect from my phone more than my friends might wish, so while work sometimes seems like far too much screen-time, at least I avoid the incessant scrolling that could otherwise take over my life.
All of this is important, and for the most part, I think I manage to keep the balance. Vacation notwithstanding, my daily life is fulfilling and enjoyable.
But I better get back to my book now. You know, the third one. Or the first one. Or the one I’m critiquing for my writer-friend.