I knew the coming of June would thrust me into panic mode. In January, I carefully planned the year, as I always do, dedicating the first five months to the enormous reading load for my last class at Chapman and an overdue and ostensibly quick and simple home remodel. The entire summer, September, and October were allocated to finishing and submitting my MFA thesis by the fall deadline.
With both of these earlier distractions now behind me, I’m wondering how half of June has passed without any new chapters written. The calendar and clock terrorize me constantly as I count the days and hours that remain in relation to the number of pages still unwritten. I assure myself that my goal is readily accessible, that I’ve allowed for unforeseen impediments such as an unexpected business trip, migraines, or a complete lack of inspiration. But I’m not sure that’s entirely true.
It always surprises me how a day can pass so easily without a word being written, particularly since writing is what I love to do most. But life does seem to have a way of depleting time and energy, despite the best of intentions each dawn. Finding stretches of uninterrupted time to write fiction was a recurring topic in my workshops at Chapman. While full-time professional writers can hole up for days and weeks or even months to attend to their craft, the novice or aspiring professional writer has a “real” job and other demands that take precedence – or at least appear to in the moment.
I admit I could ignore the layer of dust on my furniture and let the carpets go unvacuumed more often than I do. And I’m sure my body won’t collapse into a state of utter disrepair if I skip spin class or a run now and then. But there are some truly conflicting priorities, and our days are finite.
At this point, I have no choice but to devote all available resources to my manuscript. I’m fifty-five pages away from finishing, and my defense committee convenes in November. This is it. This is The Summer I complete the thesis portion of Time of Death. I will be writing fifteen pages each month through September, leaving only October for formatting and the ten-page critical statement and chapter outline.
We’ll see how it goes.
My writer Demon is ever-present; I can hear him chomping on an apple over my shoulder and scoffing at every new paragraph, but I’m ignoring him. He’s not an agent, and he’s not on my thesis committee.
You must write the book, else there is no book. It will not finish itself.
~ Tom Clancy