I know, I know, I fell off the earth. It’s that time of year (the end of the semester), and it’s like everything gets condensed into this crazy ball of stress. I can’t really complain, as the end of this semester heralds a three month vacation, but I will be a bit quiet till all the grades are out and the seniors have been gradumatated. 😉
First off, you may be wondering about Romantic Times? It was a blast, of course. Very different from last year, in that there were many fewer Leaguers whose presence was very much missed. It was also less social, for me, too, as my editor and my agent were there, so it was lots and lots of business. Which rocked, don’t get me wrong. I have lots of fun stuff in the pipeline, and lots of fun things happening, so it was great to get stuff done. It was also lovely to spend so much time with Rebecca, my agent, and my editor, Devi, both of whom I really enjoy and both of whom are awesome, inspirational ladies. I also got to spend a lot of time socially with Rebecca, which was so much fun. I’m lucky enough to have an agent I consider a friend, and I love having that relationship with her.
I also did cram in quite a bit of socializing, needless to say. It was so nice to see everyone! I roomed with Jaye Wells, and my friend Mary Lois came in from Shreveport to hang out. She’s our Turtle, and will also be coming with us on our book tour. I also spent a lot of time with Juliet Blackwell, Sophie Littleton, and Rachael Herron (they’re all in my blog roll), three of my favorite women on the planet. They did me the huge honor of asking me to join their Grog (or group blog) Pens Fatales, to which I happily acceded. I’m so excited to join them and the other Pens, and to be able to harass them all the time with ever more inane “problems” that I create for myself to keep me busy.
So Romantic Times was a blast, and very productive. It felt like 1/2 of a really fun convention for me, and 1/2 of a trip to New York, with all the business that we did. So I can’t complain!
After RT, I came back for a frenetic week of teaching, then I flew home to Chicago for Easter. My friend Arlene flew in from Shreveport, and we did someÂ . . . well, I can’t call it sightseeing, since the weather was so bad we couldn’t really see. But we did go into Chicago. Then, I’m afraid to admit, we went back to my parents and made like housecats. It was ridiculously relaxing and lovely, and it was great to see her and show her some Peeler hospitality.
Then I came back to Greensburg and here I am! It’s the penultimate week of teaching, and all the final papers and portfolios will start flowing in. I’m pretty on top of everything, but still stressed as all get out. A lot of people ask me how I juggle everything, and I have to admit that right now the juggling is difficult, there is much swearing, and at least one ball has disappeared under the couch.
That ball, meanwhile, may or may not be my sanity. I’m definitely not the craziest person I know, although that’s not saying much. But with the book not getting worked on, and all the grading, and the book not getting worked on, and the book not getting worked on, I’m a bit of a neurotic mess. Juliet Blackwell explained to me exactly why I was a neurotic mess last night, when she reminded me how having a book deadline looming kicks up all sorts of nasty things in our psyches, including the devil Procrastination, and his bastard sons Angst and Insecurity.
And she’s right. It’s crazy how things we want to do and love doing are the worst things for us: they’re the things that can easily become our demons if we let them. They are often the things we care about so much and judge ourselves against in a way that is, fundamentally, irrational. There are stages of the writing process where I’m very professional and good about pulling back and seeing my work not as my heart or my soul but as some paper with words…but starting a project and nailing down that squiggly outline isn’t one of those times. It’s the part that I live and breathe and eat and it’s the part that challenges me like nothing else: the part I measure myself against and the place I continually find myself wanting.
Indeed, Jaye Wells posted a link to an article about this idea of NOT doing what you love, for your own sanity. I’ve been quietly simmering it for the past few days, and I think it’s right in some ways. I’m lucky in that I’m not so neurotic that I pull diva tantrums if anyone, say, tries to edit my book. But that’s also not who I am. There’s a part of me that–if it’s from a party I respect–masochistically loves to be graded and edited and proofread and found full of flaws, so I can improve. My issue isn’t that I’mÂ competitive with others, it’s that I’ve always been psychotically competitive with myself. I can lose 1,000 games of volleyball and not give a fuck, but you should see me in yoga. I’m like a zealot hamster. And that’s how I am when I write. Only less sweaty. And not in down dog. Nor am I really a rodent. I just have short arms and legs.
So none of this is an excuse for my being a neurotic mess at the moment, but it DOES explain my behavior if I cry on you, try to marry you, laugh inappropriately loudly until I stop suddenly to stare at a distant point in the ceiling, or eat bean burritos from Taco Bell.
I’ll be fine once I have this outline done.