Tap tap...is this thing on?
So. I've been gone from this blog. And you know why? I've been cheating on my fiction with another genre.
In 2007 I made the crazy decision to get a Ph.D. I really like working with undergraduates, which was what I was doing at the time, and I want to do that as my career. And the very best way to have the best, widest crack at jobs in student affairs is to have a research Ph.D. So I applied to a bunch of programs, packed up my bags, and went to one. It was a lot of fun for a very long time, even though I'm very, very broke in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.
If you know anything about Ph.D.s, you know that they end in this...Thing. It's called a dissertation, at least in most programs in the U.S., but I like to think of it as just being my...Thing. Basically what it is is a book you go out and research yourself, and then write up in somewhere between 150-600 pages. I'm not kidding; I've seen some that are that long. So last year, after an awesome time getting into the groove of blogging with the A-Z blog challenge , I had to buckle down and get my data and then write the ...Thing.
And I realized that I didn't have room for writing other things. Or much room for anything, really, beyond making money to live on and writing and researching the Thing. So I put aside my revision (which has a shiny new title and a better beat sheet and is all brand new!) and I focused on the Thing.
I also did something really crazy...I skipped National Novel Writing Month.
I started doing NaNoWriMo after I heard about it in a creative writing seminar in college. I am going to assume that most of you know what it is, even if you don't do it—the challenge that is now drawing over a half million (!) people to write 50,000 words of novelish goodness in 30 days. I thought it sounded amazing, and hilarious, and so I gave it a go. I think that first year, I got about 1500 words. The following year, though, I learned that the words per day to reach 50,000 is 1,667, and then I won three years running.
I've done it every year since. And last year would've been my tenth anniversary (and yes I'm dating myself if you care to do the addition). But I skipped it. To write the Thing.
This year, though? The Thing is almost done. I have a few more revisions to make and then I will stand up in front of a bunch of people and answer criticisms of it for two hours, and then I will be done with the Thing and technically you'll be able to call me Dr. But I won't insist.
I've learned a lot about writing from writing The Thing, and I hope to blog about some of those lessons soon. BUT, here's the exciting news. A few weeks ago, I got an email from Writer's Digest asking if I wanted to be part of their NaNoWriMo blogging series. I looked at The Thing, and I looked at the calendar, and...well, I agreed. The Thing is mostly done, and I'm excited to take my regular life back by the horns.
So what does this mean? It means you can find me twice a week answering questions about my progress over on the Writers' Digest "There Are No Rules" blog. The first post went up today, introducing me and all the other writers who'll be taking part. Some of them are so accomplished! I feel unworthy. But I think it'll be a lot of fun.
This November, I'll be finishing the Thing. And coming back to my life as a fiction writer, and writing another thing, which I think will be a ton of fun. Stay tuned, and I hope to see you around.
Jessica S. Schley was once a pusher of very important papers for a small commercial nonfiction house. Nowadays, she divides her time between bookselling, being a grad student, and writing contemporary fiction for young adults.
- ► 2012 (33)