Sunday, January 27, 2019

Weekly To-Do, 1/20/19 - 1/26/19

This week I felt utterly overwhelmed. The amount of work I've taken on is unreasonable, and a few things that are genuinely important have fallen by the wayside (applying for a residency, [secret thing]). I sat down with my book pile, my spreadsheet, and my husband on Saturday to figure out what to do, and although it felt a lot like me rambling and Matt sitting there with a listening-but-feeling-slightly-superfluous look on his face, it helped a bit. I have a short list of what to do next, I eliminated a couple of items from the pile, and I feel okay about February.

Then, later in the day, I secured a gig that is still secret, but is goddamn amazing, and calls for significant additional work and time. It would have been the wrong move not to leap at it, but the bare fact of leaping at it when I'm already overloaded is frankly illogical.

I really had no idea that going freelance and leaning into book criticism would turn out like this, and it's so hard to describe what I mean by "like this." I've had more/faster success (by my own metrics) than I imagined, but the path has been so chaotic that "path" doesn't really apply to the experience. Even Wonderland had a visible, followable trail through the weird woods.

If I consciously thought about what lay ahead, I believed I'd teach workshops once every two months or so, write a book review every now and then, find an agent or a press for one of the two saleable books, and publish hybrid film essays regularly, like every few months. Instead I wrote for, published 10 book reviews in one month, wrote twice for the most prestigious book criticism outlet in Britain, and [secret thing] [it's really weird, something I never even considered I'd do]. I have taught no workshops, gotten no nibbles from agents, and published no hybrid essays, though not for lack of trying. And I somehow made friends with the head of Dzanc, a publicist from the University of Texas, and Neal Pollack.

Does that get across how chaotic and contra expectations it's been? I mean,

So. I spent a lot of time this week feeling overwhelmed rather than working, but I also had a small medical procedure and some unrelated emotional turmoil. Coping mechanisms (rewatching Rifftrax and playing very stupid phone games) intervened. I did pitch a lot, but I didn't meet reading or writing goals. The above might've been good as a separate blog post, I guess, but only after yesterday's flail session with Matt did I feel coherent about it, so in it goes with the to-do list.

Disclaimer: I'm including selected names of pubs and books because making this list would be ten times harder, and therefore not worth the effort, to anonymize them entirely. Any of the acceptances could fall through at any time. By naming them, I am not badmouthing the publications who rejected or didn't reply. This is data, not trash-talk or promotion.

Rewrite Horse Latitudes thing
PEN awards take

Handbook for a Post-Roe America
Tonic and Balm

WRB (accepted)
Handbook to Teen Vogue
Handbook to In These Times
NEIS to Pleiades
GAITR to Barrelhouse (rejected)
GAITR to R&RG (accepted)
T&B to TMR
Davis books to WRB (accepted)
Bitch (complicated)


Locus business
Critical Notes submission
Publicist for Undying
Publicist for LFP
Will at DV x2

Books I Hate interview, followups
Attend SGVWW meeting
Promote PEN awards take


Sarah Boon said...

Hunh, I did the same thing re: making a spreadsheet and working out that I'd maybe, just a bit, taken on more work than I realized. And that doesn't include the pitches that are floating around out there waiting for a response. I also got two emails from editors asking if I was writing a book! Which I am (actually I have 2), but the main one isn't even close to proposal stage (I'm working out which chapters to write and publish independently based on several calls-for-pitches I've seen), and the second one is ready to go but not quite right for this guy's press. But it does mean that, in between all this stuff I've agreed to do, I also want to sent out my finished book proposal. How do we get ourselves into such binds? It's even worse for me because I've been struggling really badly with my mental health lately, so getting all these things done will be a miracle.

Katharine Coldiron said...

I'm sorry about the mental health. And I do know how I got here, but knowing how I got here is no excuse for saying yes to so many things.

But! So many congratulations to you on the outreach from editors! When you're struggling a bit less, I bet you're going to feel amazing about that. Huuuuuge compliment. <3