It’s been a weird week, weather-wise. We’ve had two days of heavy snow with high winds that caused school to be closed; the second of those days, today, ended with the snow turning to rain, then ending, the temperature soaring and the sun coming out so that everything started melting and it felt like a very early foretaste of spring.
Because of those snow days, it’s also been a weird week — but a good one — for me personally, and writing-wise. With a holiday on Monday, a snow day Wednesday, and another snow day Friday, I only had to work Tuesday and Thursday. That was good. I mean, you all know I love my job to the point of ridiculousness, but if they’d pay me full-time to only go in Tuesdays and Thursdays, I could get used to that. We all need a break sometimes.
I really needed a break. By the end of last week, with a cold coming on, I was feeling a touch of the February blahs. February really is the cruellest month for all of us here in the Northern Hemisphere. And it’s even crueller here in Newfoundland, where the climate is so changeable we can go through seven different kinds of bad weather in three days, and spring is so far away it’s not even imaginable. The endless grinding routine of getting up in the semidarkness, getting kids and self ready for school and work, putting on snow pants and boots and scraping the car and trudging through a day’s routine in the cold … yeah. I really needed a break.
I thought the long weekend would be a break, and it was, but not enough, especially as I was still getting over a cold. Two extra days off were quite the bonus!
I used the extra time to write. Not only that, I used the extra time to do writing I wanted to do!!
This is big. One of the contributing factors to my February blahs, apart from the weather, is that I do a lot of freelancing this time of year. Since going back to teaching I’ve tried to take on fewer freelance projects, but I have a couple of contracts I hang onto because … well, it’s hard to turn down extra money, and they’re usually fairly easy and enjoyable. So from December till March, usually whatever bits of writing time I can steal from my teaching/parenting life are dedicated to writing what someone else wants me to write.
The thing is, I’m anxious to get back to revising my novel-in-progress, What You Want. By the end of last summer I had a draft that I felt pretty happy with, but after letting a few people read it, getting some feedback, and letting it sit awhile to think about it, I decided that it could be better. A lot better. So I’ve been planning a major rewrite, a complete overhaul of this novel.
Part of this involved writing four new opening chapters. I was always troubled by the fact that this was a novel about a road trip where the characters don’t even get on the road till Chapter Four. I wanted to start the novel when the trip starts, but that required a lot of rewriting to tell the story of those first few days on the road while unfolding, through flashbacks and conversations, a lot of background information that had been in those original first three chapters. I’ve been squeezing out minutes here and there over the last few weeks to work on this, but having wrapped up two freelance projects last week, I decided I’d give myself a break before starting on the next, and use the long weekend to work on What You Want (which was what I wanted!).
When the snow days came along and I had some unexpected free time, I decided to get completely hedonistic and decadent and take the whole week to work on What You Want … just pushing the freelance work off for another week. I’m sure I’ll pay for that in a few weeks when I’m pushing to meet a deadline, but it felt great to think like a novelist for a few days.
So it’s basically been a week of luxury — though I did have to work for two days and keep my children alive and not killing each other during those days off, I was able to pretend, at least a little of the time, that I was a Real Writer (TM) who puts her own creative writing first and has plenty of time to push, prod and poke and manuscripts.
To tell you the truth, I’m not sure I’d be cut out for that life even if I had the time, money and leisure to pursue it. I don’t know if I have the attention span to focus on creative writing full-time. Sometimes I feel shortchanged, like I’d be a much better writer if I didn’t have so many other committments in my life. Other times I feel that tucking writing into spare corners of time is the best way for me to work.
But at the end of this week, I have four new opening chapters for What You Want that I’m really happy with, and they’ll give me a starting point from which I can continue revising the whole manuscript … when I have time! Best of all, I feel relaxed and refreshed, almost as if I’ve had a vacation. (By the way, it was also good reading time, and I’ve finally gotten around to updating my reviews at Compulsive Overreader).
So I think I’ll just be grateful for snow days, and for the unexpected gifts of February.