There’s a line in Andrew Marvell’s poem To His Coy Mistress that I love: ‘But at my back I always hear / Time’s winged chariot hurrying near’. The voice in the poem is that of a man persuading a woman to consummate their relationship and it always enabled some great classroom discussions when I taught it.
However, it is one of those images that sticks in your mind so much that they become part of your own language. Like many people trying to cram as much as they can into life, I am very conscious of the sound of that winged chariot. As a teacher, my daily work life is split into units of time, all of which have responsibilities allocated to them. At home, my husband works shifts which also dictate how certain pockets of time need to be spent. Inevitably, and as I’ve blogged before, the only flexibility my time often has is my writing. I took a break a few months ago to help give me more time for the things that were more pressing then.
But, this summer break, my writing life has been put to the top of the to-do list. We are not taking a lengthy summer break, I have not over-committed myself socially as I usually do, and I’ve made myself sit and write before doing anything else.
And guess what? I’ve finished the draft of Fault! That is only the start of the release process though and there are now many deadlines and dates to add into the calendar. Once I have had feedback from my beta readers, I will return to my manuscript and try to make it as good as it can be. I have to send it to my editor in early September, work on their suggested changes, and then send to my formatter in early October. And, fingers crossed that the above stages go without a hitch, Fault will be ready to be released on 21st October!
Thank you to everyone who has patiently waited for Fault, who has supported me during the dark days when writing wasn’t happening, who has kept their faith in me. I hope you feel that 21st October brings you enough in return.
I can remember my mum telling me that, whatever else I could do, I couldn’t find more than twenty-four hours in a day. She wasn’t trying to limit me; she was trying to stop me burning out. As someone who was a Girl Guide, played a musical instrument, worked hard at school, had a morning newspaper round, spent two or three evenings a week babysitting for neighbours, had a Saturday job, etc., time was a precious commodity that I manipulated and twisted with the recklessness of youthful naivete. I would wind myself so tight that, inevitably, I would snap.
Despite the years which have passed, I still fill my time to the brim. My primary job is one that I very rarely switch off from; it is an indelible part of my psyche. For years I have given the majority of my evenings and weekends to doing that job in the best way possible. I am thankful to have a sense of vocation and to spend my time in the pursuit of making others’ lives better.
And then I started writing.
Over the last three years I have found myself in the enviable position of having a second vocation. I love writing: the craft, the creativity and the community. There is nothing like hearing from readers about how much my words, my characters have touched them. Even forcing my naturally introverted self to attend signings has resulted in some of the most joyous moments of my life.
But, as my career in education grows, I am finding it ever more difficult to find the time and mental capacity to continue being an author. I have always kept a clear sense of separation between these two worlds and have been honest about the fact that my job in education has to take priority as it pays my bills.
I’m at one of those points where, if she were still alive, Mum would be repeating her reminder about the number of hours in the day. My husband has recently become my self-appointed time manager, forcing me to take rest time and I know that means he’s worried.
So what is the answer? As easy as it would be to say I solely commit to the world of education, it would hurt me so much to stop writing that any gain in time would be outweighed by the sadness. What I can try is to stop being an author. To stop the time spent on social media. To stop the time spent trying to develop my profile within the book community. To stop the time spent not-writing. I know that this will mean less publicity and fewer sales but that doesn’t concern me. Losing time with readers does.
So, between now and Christmas, I’m going to put my author life on hiatus. I will still be writing whenever time allows. Both Curve and Heart will only be available via Amazon as part of my determination to keep things simple. I may check in on social media occasionally but, if anyone needs to contact me, my email address can be found on the Contact Me tab above.
As I blow out one end of the candle I’m burning at both ends, I’m making a wish: to be able to relight it in a few months’ time so that it will burn brighter and stronger.