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.

Featured Sponsored Content

  • angela

    I know how it feels when you reach half way…..its like the other half is much closer than before…
    greet yourself and enjoy some half happy time.
    And after that, you will tend those other multiple task …but that should be tomorrow´s battle…
    keep going

    • meg

      Oh, I’m wayyyy more than halfway. I just have only half left to turn in :)

  • Rose in SA

    Meg – a question for you that’s been bouncing around my head for a while now…what is your motivation for writing the book?

    Is it for APW publicity, for the money (is there money in book publishing?) or something creative inside of you that you just need to get out? I’m intrigued by the whole thing, especially since I read Ariel’s post that basically implied that her book hasn’t done much financially but changed the nature of her website.

    (I think this may have come out more blunt than I intended, but not sure now how to fix, sorry).

    • meg

      Hello Rose,
      Long story short, I got a great book deal, and it’s absolutely contributed to the business this year. Ariel has talked about how you don’t tend to see a lot of money after your advance, unless it becomes a major best seller, and that’s true, but with a good advance you should be paid to write the book. I’ve wanted to write this book since the beginning, it was part of the goal of having the site. I’ll feel much better when it’s out there on shelves, filling that gap in the market and hopefully making people’s lives a little more sane. But yes, it will, in theory, also be good for APW publicity next year, and APW is the core of how I pay the bills.

      So, a little of everything, I suppose. But yes, I’m totally getting paid for this project, don’t you worry about me!


  • “And this month I used all of those and none of those, while I scrambled to just get it done.”

    I know exactly how this goes. Some days I feel too busy to even start a to-do list. Like it’s just one more thing to do on top of everything else and if I have ONE more thing to do I might die. And then I feel like Dorothy in the poppy field and I’m oh. so. tired.

    Congrats on month 4! Half-way means it will take just as long to finish as it would to turn back around – so power through with your whole heart.

  • Jo

    Congrats, Meg!!!

  • For sure take a moment to yourself to re-fill your well! (I’m working on learning to do that myself). And Congrats on the half way point! Wee!

  • Class of 1980

    Yes, when the book is finished, you absolutely must slow down. Inspiration thrives in down time and you need to take stock

    Most of life is a marathon rather than a race. And if there aren’t enough places of recreation and relaxation along the way, eventually you’ll wonder what the point is!

    I hope you have something in mind for how you’re going to celebrate finishing the book.

  • Andee

    Yea Meg!! I personally appreciate very much the extra lengths you go to make APW work! Thanks a million times over, and know your work makes a difference.

  • Manya

    Congrats, Meg, on grinding it out!

  • Jeannine

    awesome. this is totally revving me up right now.

  • Congratulations on your hard work & progress! You definitely deserve a long nap & more R & R. Best wishes~

  • ka

    “But creativity is a process. You can’t keep drawing water from the well, without taking some time to fill it back up.”

    Yes, yes, YES!

    And MARFA. Totally, someday.

    Part of me wants to spend our honeymoon wandering through the desert in a vintage muscle car (can you rent those?)…

  • Amy*

    I love these posts! As someone who recently ran a marathon, I’m not ashamed to say that I took walk breaks. (I think that would be the equivalent of kicking dirt.) Those breaks allowed me to finish stronger at the finish line. So go kick up dirt and enjoy!*

  • Rachel

    Congrats! You deserve a long nap and a nice piece of pie.

  • “You can’t keep drawing water from the well, without taking some time to fill it back up.

    thansk for the reminder that kicking dirt is not just necessary for making life enjoyable and sane, but also to remain creative and productive in work.

  • Laura

    Congratulations, Meg! That is such awesome news. Go you!

  • Yay naps! Um, that’s all I got.

  • Carlin

    In publishing, we say “A book is either perfect, or it’s published.” Besides, there is always the second edition!

  • Ris

    Did you sneak a Hemingway quote in there at the end? Hope you attribute sources better than that in your book, hun, or I’ll find out! ;)

  • I’d should verify with you here. Which isn’t one thing I normally do! I take pleasure in studying a post that may make people think. Additionally, thanks for permitting me to remark!