Wednesday, May 7, 2014

On the Cusp

There was one table left beside the cream and sugar station with a lone chair as its companion when I arrived at "my" Starbucks with my laptop slung over my shoulder around noon. The cushy chairs at the back, the ones I'd taken over when I did my book signing here, were all available, but today I was here to work.

The spring semester is drawing to a close, and I can feel the shift in my priorities. Class planning is still at the top of the list, but with only one class left before finals week, it doesn't feel as urgent. Writing is finding its way back in, and as much as I enjoy teaching, I am looking forward to readjusting the balance for a few months, putting my writing first instead of squeezing it into nooks and crannies.

Today is a social day, too. I met out-of-town friends for breakfast at Panera (rather than at my house which is suffering from end-of-semester paper clutter disorder) and am meeting another friend -- a retired teacher -- for lunch in less than an hour. I do some of my best work in these in-between time slots. I know I have a deadline and that increases my determination to accomplish something so I can check it off my list and enjoy my social engagement without that nagging feeling that I should be doing something else.

I was a little worried that the transition out of spring semester and into summer would be challenging -- that I'd decide I deserved a break before moving into summer writing mode and I would lose valuable writing time to the need for downtime. Fortunately, a succession of writing events -- Lancaster Christian Writers' Super Saturday in April, my writing retreat last weekend and the Pennwriters retreat in two weeks -- are creating a smooth transition for me, along with a delicious sense of anticipation. Coming home from the retreat to an article sale (an article I polished at the retreat), a guest blog post (also polished at the retreat) and the news that I'd won a free hour of author coaching in the drawing I'd entered on Super Saturday certainly didn't hurt my motivation.

Leaving a sure thing for the promise of something new two years ago is one of the scariest things I've ever done. I knew I could do the work-at-home thing -- I'd been doing it as a writer for years -- but there were so many unknowns, including the question of whether I'd maintain my momentum or fall prey to a leisurely pace that hindered my progress because the time pressures I was used to had been lifted.

The pace in the past year has been far from leisurely, and most days, I like it that way. I achieve balance most weeks, too: a combination of writing, teaching and seeing friends so I don't become a hermit or a workaholic. I am, however, looking forward to the longer stretches of time that summer affords, knowing they will allow me to think rather than just to do. I have a number of writing projects cooking, so to speak, and I need some quiet time to decide where to turn up the heat and what to let simmer.

And this time, I'm not in a hurry to get out of the kitchen.

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