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Working For Yourself: Month Four (Go, Go, Go)

{Me in my office, on half book deadline day}

This month, you get my working for myself post a tiny bit early. Why is that? Well, as those of you who follow me on Twitter know, on Friday I turned in half of my book manuscript. All 108 pages. Whoa. (The other half is due in a month.)

It was a strange sensation, handing in something you’d worked so hard on. The last hours were spent sitting next to my friend Kate, who has read and copy edited every single draft (that’s her computer sitting next to mine in the first picture), doing one last round of edits. It felt a little like giving birth, and a lot like letting go. David, who used to work in a literary agency back in our previous life in theatre, reminded me, “A book is never finished, it’s just abandoned.” Which is true. I got to the point where I was changing tiny things, and then changing them back, and then looking at the document blankly, and that’s when I knew I was done (which is good, since it was the deadline anyway).

It’s hard to have any perspective on your own work, other than the perspective that you put your all into it, and you’re proud it’s done. Book writing is like a marathon (one I’m not done with yet… I’ve got one more month to go), but it’s not magic. It’s just showing up and doing the work, over and over and over again.

So this month was finishing half of a book, and juggling a million business tasks, and going to New Orleans for a much needed two days at a conference, spending time with girlfriends. This month was crazy.

Kathleen, in her series on freelance work, has written a fair amount about her systems for time management. And this month I used all of those and none of those, while I scrambled to just get it done. I was juggling a book deadline, some changes in the APW ad program, continuing to adjust to managing a small staff, and managing the blog’s content. And most weeks, it seemed like everything needed to be done at once. So I wrote lists, and lists, and lists. Every day I tackled the thing that seemed the most urgent first, and then everything else next. I didn’t (and haven’t) finish my lists. I worked on Sundays (and sometimes Saturdays), I worked nights. I did what I had to do to get it done. And you know what? The big stuff got done. But you know what else? I need a nap.

{Me in The Garden District in New Orleans, kicking dirt for one afternoon this month}

The other day, I unearthed a quote I’d recorded for myself from the El Cosmico website (the crazy vintage trailer ‘hotel’ in Marfa Texas, where I will stay one of these days). It said, “It seems like sometimes the only way to make something really amazing is through a steady balance of kicking the dirt around and napping.” And I thought about how true it is. And other than one brief afternoon in New Orleans, I’ve done very little kicking dirt this month. And I need it.

So yesterday, I took a nap. And then David and I made plans for a little dirt kicking. Because I’ve got half a book still to turn in, and a long list of projects to tackle after that. But creativity is a process. You can’t keep drawing water from the well, without taking some time to fill it back up.

I feel blessed to have been able to do so much writing and creating and business owning this month. But I need to practice some not doing soon too. I’m working on that.

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