Back then, I was able to kick out two books pretty much simultaneously because I was on paid leave from my teaching duties. All that freed up time = lots of writing got done.
Now, I wasn’t planning on working on a creative writing guide any time soon — except that this past November, my dean (that is, my immediate academic supervisor) pointed out that
1) I had been the campus coordinator for the student writing contest for six years,
2) I was one of two creative writing professors on campus, and
3) I was already known for having published stuff.
So, she suggested, perhaps I should think of spearheading a creative writing collective, hosting creative writing workshops and seminars for the campus community?
I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was winging it in my creative writing classes, that often I would change course mid-semester because what was working on the syllabus wasn’t working in the classroom. I would literally go, “Ummm… let’s see… what would y’all like to see instead of what’s on the schedule?”
So I thought of what worked in my Composition I and Composition II courses, and the single most important denominator was my book Structures, which not only helped structure my students’ writing but ALSO structured my teaching in the classroom (hence its title).
Clearly, I needed to do that for my Creative Writing I class and — by extension — any creative writing workshop that I was hosting: that is, write my own creative writing guidebook.
The problem was that I had no time to write it, not while nostril deep in teaching, grading, and advising students. So, once both the crazy busy-ness of the fall semester and the overall craziness of the Christmas season ended (with the kiddo back to school on January 3), I sat down, cued up the Moana soundtrack* on repeat, and composed a creative writing guide for beginners in THIRTEEN DAYS: January 3 to January 15.
Even though the fall semester classes have begun on January 17, I’m still not used to going to bed before 2pm (as I do most of my writing after the kiddo gets to bed at 9pm, and I can write uninterrupted and distraction-free). My book is now with two beta readers (trusted friends, of whom one has a BA in English, the other a BA in Drama).
Meanwhile, I’m working as much as I can on the sequel to my 2012 oft-neglected novel, Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones. I know, once the heavy lifting of teaching bears down, I’ll have to switch out my writer hat to professor hat, but until that happens, I have maybe a week, maybe a week-and-a-half, to balance evenly my day job with my night job of being a writer.
Now, I don’t have much of the sequel (just a solid-this-time-dammit outline and sporadic scenes written here and there), but I do have the beta version of my coming-soon creative writing book, which I’ll post in subsequent blog posts for you, my lovely readers.
Oh, and it’s called Starters: A Beginners Guide to Creative Writing. And it WILL come out soon this year — unlike my novel sequel.
*Note: I always write to music, and every writing project seems to flow better when I find the right type of music. For my novel, it was Foo Fighters. For my dissertation, it was world music at the Starbucks I semi-lived in at the time. And for the creative writing guide, it was the Moana soundtrack. ::shrug:: What the Muse wants to listen to, the Muse gets. 🙂