End of April Update

CalendarObliqueWell, there’s no two ways to cut it. April sucked for me as a writer. No, no bad news. I just did not perform well as a writer. I’ll trot out the standard excuses of a lot of travel and a bunch of fires to put out, but the honest truth is that I didn’t make it a priority. Yes, I got a lot of other “necessary” tasks done, but they came at the cost of writing time.

So, let’s look at the numbers…

Total writing for the month was 35,465 words, of which only 7000 or so saw the light of day. That’s less than half the pace I was shooting for, and only about 60-70% of what I managed in the previous months. So definitely not so good.

What’s behind that drop-off? I got a job.

A local company made me an offer that was actually quite good. It’s for programming, which is how I paid the bills most of my life, and given the situation at home with my special-needs kids, they’re going to let me telecommute. That won’t be anything new, since I did that for a decade at my last programming job.

However, that meant that I spent a lot of time this month getting my home office back in shape for taking on a programming job. I’ll confess to a certain degree of vanity here in that I didn’t want to do videoconferencing until I’d had a chance to reduce the level of clutter in my office. It’s still far from perfect, but I’ve probably dealt with close to two cubic meters of stuff, from dead cables to old paperwork. So, now it’s merely a mess, not a an episode from Hoarders.

I don’t want to say too much about the company. My job will not be an outward facing one, so I don’t want to find myself treading into accidental corporate communications. However, I will say that they’re working on a problem that has held my interest for a number of years, and I think their solution will make a positive impact on the world. Certainly it will help WidgCo sell more widgets in Widgetistan, but I think it will also make a difference in fields as diverse as medicine and NGO charities.

But yeah, it’s going to impact my writing time, and I am rather conflicted about that, particularly after the preparation for the job significantly cut down my writing in April. Still, they do know I’m a writer, and they seem fairly well committed to a good work-life balance. As such, I do not expect to find myself on another 70-hour-week death-march project I had at my last programming job. And yet, I will say that I wrote the first draft to Beneath the Sky during the peak of that 70-hour-week grind. (It was a NaNoWriMo, after all.)

This is actually good news for a number of reasons in my personal life. Even with the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), it was proving difficult to get health insurance for my eldest son who suffers from fairly extreme autism. And even then, the options I was seeing in the plans available to me as an individual purchaser were not nearly as good as what I had at my last job nor as good as what seems to be coming with the new job.

And then there’s the money. I’m pretty pleased with how well my writing income is coming along, but it’s nowhere near what I can make as a programmer – at least, so far. The extra money going to be nice for everything from hiring extra childcare to eventually doing something wild like putting solar panels on my Texas roof.

But there’s also a silver lining for you, my readers. Most of my writing income so far has been paying for things like food and electricity. Now, that income can be poured right back into the writing career. That means I’ll be hiring out more editing services and cover artists, reducing my overall production time. I think I’ll keep the actual format/assembly for myself because… well, I like it and think I’m pretty good at it. The first dividend from that is a tossed some money at a new cover for Beneath the Sky. It was partly just an experiment, but I’m also fairly happy with the result. I’ll do the reveal soon once I have the official files.

Now, to update the schedule, it’s pretty much all bad news for you patient fans. The feedback from my beta readers is telling me I need to put in 40-60 hours of edits on Debts of My Fathers, and that will take most of May. So, right now I’m shooting for a mid-to-late June release.

As for the rest, right now I’m crossing my fingers, hoping that the more rigid schedule of a full-time job is going to help me prioritize the writing time for when the time is actually available instead of letting little fires crop up and consume my days.