Friday, December 29, 2017

When Your Writing Life Takes a Back Seat

It’s been a tumultuous year, but I’m grateful for how it worked out. Lords of Kur is published. I made one of the biggest transitions in my career for far, moving from the realm of writing and editing to one of data science. As much as I love working in writing and social media, it’s time to take a deep dive behind the online world and learn everything I can about analytics, big data, and how to optimize the online experience. I joined a marketing agency this fall. I’m thrilled by the opportunity, but it’s a high-intensity role with big goals locked in place for 2018, and the learning curve is daunting. While the current phase of my life feels volatile, I’m gaining invaluable experience that will carry my career to its next phase. Yet it comes at a cost. There will be little time for writing in 2018.

Research for my fifth novel is happening at a slow pace. So is a business plan that I’m working on—but that’s okay. Focusing on data science now will only help my future business. Blogging? Sure, when I can, both here and at my food blog, Savored Words. A couple fiction-streams-via-Twitter accounts are also in development. I have no trouble finding cool things to be involved in, but finding time is a problem.

We’ll see how it goes.

Even though I love this new career track of data science, it does feel weird to be in a job that isn’t based in writing. Journaling before bed keeps the Muses from going stir crazy, but it’s more like therapy than creative writing at this point. In a way, it feels like a necessary sabbatical. Completing and publishing Lords of Kur was a herculean task. There is a ton of research to do before even coming up with a basic character list and plot outline.

For many writers today, pressure mounts to publish all the time. A good deal of it is surely self-imposed. Other times, it’s bad advice from somewhere in a writer’s circle of influence. Tons of well-meaning posts offering up advice and special promotions on Twitter certainly adds to it. Whenever I scroll through my feed at the dazzling array of book covers, blog posts (oh hi…), and author photos, I do wonder how well the social media push works for them. I never seemed to find my groove in marketing my own work. I try to implement new social media and networking plans, but when pressed for time, self-promotion is the first thing to go. Once a novel flies the coop, I’m already grappling with the Muses about which story to focus on next.

There was a time when the idea of not being able to dedicate a major portion of my life to writing would have thrown me into a panic. I have crazy self-imposed deadlines to meet! The list of novels and short stories grows! While my passion for writing has never waned, I’ve mellowed over the years. Not all the projects on my list are even going to be written; I keep them on hand as a reference of where the Muses steered me over the years. There will be time. Until there isn’t. In the meantime, as I navigate my life into unknown waters, it’s all about staying focused and trying to avoid the storms. Wherever this journey brings me, the Muses will always be part of it.