Some of you asked for a writing update, so I figure I might as well do a quick post on my current projects and where they are. I’ve also been experimenting with my daily schedule a bit, so it would probably be good to blog about that as well.
Right now, the main project taking up all of my attention is the 3.0 draft of Heart of the Nebula. It’s a direct sequel to Bringing Stella Home, and continues the story from James McCoy’s point of view, five years later. I’m making a lot of changes, toning down the romantic subplot and emphasizing the more interesting social and ethical issues. When I’m through, I think it will be completely different from the first couple of drafts, but in a way that’s truer to the spirit of the first book.
I’ve only been managing about 500 to 1,500 words per day, though, which is abysmally low compared to my usual word count. Part of that is because I’m throwing out entire sections and drafting new ones from scratch, but the more significant part is that I don’t have as much mental space for writing as I did back in the States.
Basically, moving to a foreign country and starting a new career has taken a lot more out of me than I thought it would. I teach 18 lessons per week, some with as many as 30 or 35 kids, across grades 1 through 12. Culturally, everything is completely different too. So far, the shock hasn’t been too bad–I really love it out here in Georgia–but it’s made the writing a little bit more difficult than I’d expected.
I have a lot of free time, though, so that’s not a problem: the problem is clearing my mind and keeping the creative juices fresh. Here’s how I’m going to do it:
- Limit internet time. As tempting as it is to turn to the familiarity of the internet, it’s a huge time-suck and doesn’t really do anything for the culture shock. A much better thing for that would be to spend more time reading. From now on, I’m going to limit myself to one internet session per day, no longer than 2 hours (more if there’s something I actually need to do).
- Get out more. I get cabin fever very easily, and it’s only gotten worse now that I’m in a foreign culture. Fortunately, there are tons of places to explore, and in my local neighborhood I’m kind of a celebrity (hey look, it’s the American! Let’s chase him and shout ‘hello’!). The prime time for this is the late afternoon, when everyone’s out and things are still open. If I check the internet right after school and get out immediately after, I think that will help me better to focus.
- Get up early to write in the morning. I tried this last week, and it was a great way to get focused and build more momentum. Even if I only manage a couple hundred word, it gets me thinking about the story for the rest of the day, which makes it easier to pick up in the afternoon and evening.
So that’s the plan for now. My goal is to finish Heart of the Nebula before the end of May, which is going to require a significant change of pace. It should be pretty straightforward, though, and after this draft it shouldn’t need too many more revisions before it’s ready to publish. If all goes well, I foresee a publishing date sometime in the fall or winter.
Do you have any other ideas for ways to manage creativity in a totally foreign culture? If so, I’d love to hear it–that’s my biggest struggle right now.