Ah yes! You know how New Year’s resolutions go. I had a great one too. Well, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to learn how to make donuts from scratch. BAM! There they are. I need a bigger donut cutter, but they were really tasty. Now to perfect the recipe and tweak it. Chocolate donuts anyone?
But my other New Year’s resolution…. Well, this isn’t a Western Wednesday post, and there wasn’t one last week or the week before. So, yeah. That one kind of fell apart a little. But I have a really good excuse of why I wasn’t able to post about Western history for the past few Wednesdays. It’s because my dad, Richard E. Farmer, passed away on January 29th. He hadn’t been in great health for the past few years, so it wasn’t unexpected. What was unexpected was the sudden family trip to Huntsville, Alabama, where he lived. I pretty much lost a week of work.
So why mention all of this? Well, if you’re bound and determined to make a career out of writing, there will come a point when the unexpected rears its head. As much as you plan and make a schedule for yourself, set goals and work diligently to accomplish them, there will be times when something entirely unexpected comes out of nowhere and blasts your plans to bits. For me, it was losing my dad. For my good friend Kirsten Osbourne, it was a thyroid cancer diagnosis which will mean surgery tomorrow. Don’t worry! Thyroid cancer is 95% curable, and her doctors are on top of it, but it’s going to push back a little something-something that the two of us have been working on for you. *wiggles eyebrows*
The point is, you can’t plan for everything. You can’t plan for Amazon to change the way they tally page reads in their Kindle Unlimited program. (They just changed things, and the payout to authors for the month of January went way, way down… But many authors are theorizing it may go back up next month… Except, it might not) As organized as you make yourself, you can’t plan for another eBook platform going under…or another one rising up. You have no power whatsoever over traditional publishing houses merging or dissolving, and you definitely can’t control the amount of time it takes for them to make decisions about books.
Bottom line is that no matter how much you plan and structure your writing career, things will come along that blow your plan out of the water. And yep, the same exact thing is true of life. My dad’s wife didn’t plan to lose her husband right after moving into a (giant) new house, while still renovating the old one and getting ready to sell it, and while also searching for an assisted living facility for her mother. Seriously. We may have had our differences in the past, but, whoa. But she’s soldiering on, and I’ve got to give her snaps for that. Makes me losing a week of work look like a day at the park.
And that’s also the point. We run into hard times. Life takes unexpected turns. It ruins our plans and sends us back to the drawing board. But every time that happens, if we’re truly serious about the path we’re on, we have to take a deep breath, survey the situation, and figure out how to get back on track. Sometimes that’s as simple as making a list and checking it twice. Sometimes it involves a lot more shuffling, especially if other people are involved in your projects.
The definition of a professional is someone who continues to do the work even when the going gets tough. Hobbies can be set aside, but when this is your job, you’ll find a way to do it. My solution to February’s setbacks has been to forgive myself for not keeping New Year’s resolutions, to write my fingers off when and where I am able, and to readjust my schedule to fit in with all of the crazy going on around me. And also not to make promises that I can’t keep. Like release dates. Sorry! I wish I could tell you when my next book will be out, but at this point I’m just not sure. But I’ll definitely let you know. (And, psst! You can sign up for my newsletter to find out—plug, plug, plug)
And so, to close, I just want to say that even though we have had our differences over the years, my dad has always been a pivotal part of my writing. Like I said in the eulogy I delivered at his funeral, Dad was a storyteller. He used to tell me bedtime stories about the amazing characters and stories he was working on. (Dude, his character Sebastian Angel is epic, and I fully intend to use him in a sci-fi series I have in mind for the distant future) He was there when I was taking writing classes in college. We attended our first writer’s conference together. He even won a prize. But way back then, I vowed that I would beat him to publication. Which I did. Dad finished one book and worked on a few others, but the only thing he published was a sweet short story. I plan to fix that if I’m able to get the manuscript for the book he finished.