We have National Novel Writing Month in November, but November is the beginning of my horse training season, so I get very little written. It's difficult to sit at a computer and write all day when the temperatures are finally cooling down after four or five months straight of triple digit heat in the Arizona desert. There are Camp NaNoWriMos going on in April and July, but with April and May being that last two months I can ride horses before being thrust into the furnace, I choose to work with my horses rather than my novel. Therefore, I have decided to proclaim summer as my novel season.
It's easy to sit at a computer in an air conditioned home when it is 120 degrees outside, and simply walking out onto the shaded porch for a minute is enough to make one collapse from heat exhaustion. But when you know your outdoor time is limited, and you are an outdoor enthusiast like me, you use every opportunity to be with nature.
With this being April, we are alternating between hot days and comfortable days. I've been working on my novel during those stifling hours on the hot days, and I'm happy to say that I am currently working on the second to last chapter. Of course, writing that last word in a book does not mean it is ready to be published. Then I have to put on my editor's hat and go over with a magnifying glass what I spent the last few years writing.
I have to thank my son for lighting a fire under me. He is studying screenwriting, so he has gained an interest in my own writing. He checks up on me from time to time to ask how the novel has been going. Embarrassment flushes through me as I tell him that life has been flying by so fast that I can't seem to get a few hours to focus on it. He never shames me for not making it a priority, but he manages to talk about writing in such a way that I feel inspired to make the time to revisit this project.
Part of why I was able to get my first novel published so quickly was because of a sense of urgency. I had just been laid off from a job I had for six years, and a career I had for twelve years, and I gave myself six months to recover from the stress before looking for more work. During that six months I tasked myself with completing and publishing a novel. I was driven to meet the goal, because once the six months were up, we would be running out of money to buy groceries and pay bills, and I would have to get a full-time job outside the home. Once that happened, I knew the novel would start collecting dust in the back of my mind. I had to use my time wisely, so I wrote a minimum of eight hours a day, and I met my goal.
Currently, I feel more pressured to work with my horses. They are getting older, I am getting older, and soon all of us will be in too much pain to want to go out on trail rides together. I already have one 26-year-old arthritic mare who can only be ridden for less than an hour on sandy, flat trails every once in a while. I myself wake up most mornings with some new ailment or injury that happened in my sleep that gets in the way of being able to mount, pull on a rein, or sit comfortably in the saddle. I have to ride these horses while I can, and that makes writing secondary. I don't want to be an old woman sitting in a rocking chair on the porch watching my horses swishing flies away with their tails, and me thinking, "Dang! Why didn't I ride when I could? Oh yeah, I was too busy sitting at the computer writing novels."
With that said, I've had the added responsibility of caring for and house-training an abandoned puppy these past few months. My old dog has been getting sick, and my sick dog has been getting sicker. I spend a lot of time performing triage around my place. I can plan to sit down and write my novel between this time and that time on this day and that day, but the reality is that if someone gets sick or injured, or if something breaks, the priorities shift very quickly.
I currently have five people, three dogs, and four horses under my care. That's a dozen ways that things can go wrong, and they do.... daily. Sometimes hourly. I often think I missed my calling as a nurse or veterinary technician. But I'm sure I wouldn't love it as much as I do writing. So, I have made a promise to myself that this current novel will get finished and will get published, keeping in mind that we are not immortal, so time is of the essence. If things go really well, I may even get to dip into my "novel ideas" and write a third book.
The season is approaching. My fingers are already flying across the keyboard. I think I may succeed in producing something for people to read by the end of this summer. That's the goal, and I'm right on track to meet it.