It takes a deadline to get me moving. Like most writers, I have a pesky day job. I'm a college ESL teacher. During three academic quarters I'm swamped with classes, office hours, and endless meetings. My time is tightly scheduled. But then summer arrives and I feel like a kid again. I kick back, free to make my own schedule and decide how to fill every hour. When my daughter was young, many of those hours were booked with the duties of motherhood. Now she is the adult and I am the child.
At the beginning of the summer, I set goals. This summer I knew I would be busy. I wanted to celebrate the release of my second novel, Biking Uphill, and do as much promotional work as seemed appropriate. I wanted to train for and participate in a 200-mile bike ride. I'd never participated in any organized ride before and wasn't even much of a cyclist, but the idea of commemorating my sixtieth birthday next month by doing something so totally new and different had a strong appeal. And my third and final goal was to finish writing the third novel in the Alki Trilogy: Walking Alki.
The book launch for Biking Uphill was held at Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle's premier independent bookstore, in mid July, and I was on the top of the world. The readings and signings that filled spring and summer were a string of adventures. Goal #1 checked off.
As to my second goal, I scheduled rides, felt committed to my riding partners and trained hard. The Seattle to Vancouver, Canada ride in mid-August is a memory I will cherish as well as the friendships I gathered along the way. We'll continue to schedule several weekly rides for as long as the Seattle weather allows. Goal #2 achieved.
Now there's that third goal: Walking Alki. One of the challenges of writing is its solitary nature. There are only self-imposed deadlines, at least until manuscript submission. I don't have a publicist booking events or biking partners expecting me at show up for a ride. And though there are several timed-writing practices I frequent in Seattle, I haven't been as consistent as I'd like this summer. Now I'm scrambling. College convocation is approaching. Now I have a fast-approaching deadline. The end of summer. In truth, I've always had that deadline, but as it nears, I see it more clearly. Now I'm working like a maniac to reach my final summer goal. I have a finished first draft, so I suppose I could argue that Goal #3 has been reached. Still, there's much work to be done. Perhaps I need a new goal, a due date, a deadline as Seattle gray descends: Walking Alki, Book 3 of the Alki Trilogy, will be released by Booktrope in early 2015.