Whew! I just finished revising through almost 9k words in Desert Stars. I’ve only got three more chapters and an epilogue to go, and man, I am so excited about this story! I have no doubt it’s my best work yet.
Of course, I might be biased.
Star Wanderers is also coming along very well. I’ve only got a few more scenes to write/revise before it’s ready to send off to the next round of first readers. Part of me wants to send it off to Writers of the Future right now (and according to Dean’s sage advice, that’s probably what I should do), but I want to get some feedback first just to make sure there isn’t something I’ve missed that would make it better. If all goes well, I’ll probably send it off by the end of the month.
This is the best part of writing process: finishing up a project that you know is good. This is one reason why I love rewriting so much. If I could do this all day, every day, and get paid enough for my work to make ends meet, I’d be living the dream.
Until then, however, I’ve got to figure out another way to make ends meet. One option I’m considering very seriously is selling my contract and driving across the country this Thanksgiving to spend a month or two with my parents before going overseas. My mom was the one who suggested it, and I have to admit it makes a lot of sense; if I’m going to go abroad to teach English anyways, why not spend some time back home?
If this is something I need to do, I’m going to have to make the decision very soon, possibly before the end of next week–and if you know me, you know that I’m terrible at making decisions. However, I have been thinking about it enough to make a couple of lists, and this is what I’ve come up with so far:
Reasons to go to abroad:
- To start a new career.
- To have adventures.
- To experience another culture.
- To gain TEFL experience.
- To support myself as I write.
- To have a change.
- To see the world.
- To have something to write about.
Reasons to stay in Utah:
- To get married.
- To focus on writing.
- To pursue a graduate degree.
- To stay in a predominantly Mormon community.
I decided to list only the positive reasons for making either decision, and not to consider any of the creeping doubts or fears (and there are many!). So let’s break it down:
To start a new career: This seems prudent, especially if it takes a while for my books to really take off. Specifically, a TEFL career seems like something I could juggle with my writing career, and it would certainly offer a lot more satisfaction than a grunt day job.
To have adventures: Perhaps not the most responsible reason, but hey, you’ve got to remember to have fun.
To experience another culture: One of the perks of traveling, for sure. It would probably improve my writing considerably as well, though culture shock and distance from family would certainly pose a challenge.
To gain TEFL experience: In other words, to find out if teaching English as a foreign language is something I want to build a career around, or whether I’m just not suited for it. This is why I’d want to do the TLG program first, before heading off somewhere like Cairo or Amman. And if it doesn’t work out…well, at least I’d know. Right now, I don’t.
To support myself as I write: This is huge. I hear that most TEFL jobs only take up about 20 hours per week, and that if you’re living in a local apartment, it’s not hard to make time to write. In the past two years, I haven’t had any success balancing writing with full-time work, and working part time probably wouldn’t earn me enough to support myself here in the states.
To have a change: Not quite as tangible a reason, but important nonetheless. I can’t quite explain it, but if I stay where I am now, in my current life situation…it’s just not going to work out.
To see the world: I could probably lump this under “to have adventures.”
To have something to write about: Also huge. My experiences in Jordan and the Middle East were a huge inspiration for Desert Stars, and if I’d never gone over there, the novel wouldn’t be nearly as rich. Who knows what else my imagination would produce if I spent some time traveling the world?
Now, for the other side:
To get married: Honestly, this is more of a negative reason than a positive reason. I’ve already decided that I’m only going to marry someone who’s a practicing Mormon, and since Utah is predominantly Mormon, I’m worried that if I leave Utah, I won’t be able to find someone.
Trouble is…I’ve been here for almost six years, and still haven’t found anyone. I could probably put more effort into dating, but the truth is probably that finding a marriage partner is more about your mindset than where you physically live.
Besides, I could always spend a year or two abroad and come back. I’d be pushing thirty and well beyond “menace to society” status, but at least I wouldn’t be a loser who spent all his twenties in Utah.
To focus on writing: This was why I decided last year not to go teach English in Korea. The ebook revolution was just getting started, and I felt that I needed to stay in the states to learn how the market was changing and focus on building my indie writing career.
Now, however, I feel like I’m high enough on the learning curve that I can afford to work on other things. Besides, with the current state of the economy, I don’t think I’m going to find balance if I stay in the states.
To pursue a graduate degree: I’ve largely ruled this one out. I don’t see how an English degree would help me at this point, and I don’t currently have any career aspirations that would justify pursuing an advanced degree. The only reason I’d go back to school is to postpone facing the real world, and that’s probably the worst reason I could possibly have.
To stay in a predominantly Mormon community: Kind of the opposite of “see the world” and “experience another culture,” and it gets at the very heart of the matter. Would it be better to establish myself among people who are more like me and share my values, or should I venture out of the “bubble” and see what else is out there? I have a much stronger support group here in Utah than I’d probably have as a global nomad, but do I really need it? Am I independent enough to strike out and bloom wherever I’m planted?
I don’t know. My thinking is so muddled with doubts and second thoughts that this whole exercise has probably been futile. If I had to make a decision RIGHT THIS SECOND, however, I’d probably choose to go.
If nothing else, it would give me a good two months of writing time.