And maybe I’m getting overambitious, maybe the fumes from starting my engine to get going on this new novel have gone to my head, but I’ve decided—tentatively, and perhaps I’ll change my mind—to do one last revision of my thesis to submit it to Fence’s new Modern Prose contest. They’ve had a poetry contest for a while now, but this year they decided to create a prose contest as well. Their first prose prize will go to a novel. When I got the email announcing the prize, I felt like it was a sign. Okay, I don’t really believe in signs, but. You know what I mean. I felt like I should do this. I should try just one more time.
The thing is, I had recently been thinking about my thesis, anyway, thinking about how it’s been through who knows how many drafts and there are about 100 pages of cut scenes stagnating in a file on my computer. Most of those cut scenes were probably cut for good reason, but it occurred to me the other day that maybe the “right” form, the “true” form of this novel should lie not at one extreme or another, but at some halfway point between my early drafts and the current version. Maybe, in other words, I should look through those cut scenes and see if some of them should be put back in.
But my new novel is more important to me than trudging through an umpteenth revision of my thesis. I think there is more to be gained, right now, from working on something new, so if it comes down to it and I can’t possibly do both, I’ll focus on meeting the November 15 goal for the new novel.
Besides my two jobs working as a teacher and online tutor, and besides my other “job” as a mom, the reason why I might not be able to meet both these deadlines is that I’ve also taken a new volunteer position as an Associate Editor for Bound Off, the literary podcast in which my work has both appeared and is forthcoming. This new position, by the way, has nothing to do with my new story, Hair, which will be broadcast on Bound Off in a couple of weeks. My story had already been accepted when I started talking to the editors about joining their team.
Like the Fence prize, I learned about the opening through an email newsletter. I thought about it for a week or two, really weighing whether I thought I could handle the workload. Obviously, I decided I could. The job only requires me to read ten stories every two weeks, then offer my thoughts on the stories with a yay or nay vote. I think it will be fun and worthwhile—I’m just itching to get back into the editing game, to tell the truth.
But, of course, now that I’ve committed to this job, reading submissions and working on my new novel both take precedence over my thesis. So, right now, these are the things I have to do:
1. Perform all the required duties for my two paying jobs
2. Be a good mama—the best I know how to be
3. Read and offer thoughts on submissions for Bound Off
4. Write at least 9,000 more words in my new novel by November 15th
Notice I put the new novel in the “have to” list. I consider this a true commitment. No excuses. I’m going to do this.
And, if time permits (and I hope it will!), I’m also going to work on these things:
1. Revise my thesis to submit it to the Fence Modern Prose Prize
2. Work on some stories
The following are things I don’t need to waste my time with, when time is in short supply:
1. Watch old episodes of Mad Men on Netflix while Amalie naps instead of taking the chance to do something more productive
2. Stuff my face with candy when I’m feeling overwhelmed (did I subconsciously buy too much candy for Amalie’s birthday piñata so that I could eat it myself after the party? Probably. Damn you, sweet-toothed subconscious!)
3. Turn on my computer to work and, instead, spend the next hour reading and commenting on all of my friends’ Facebook status updates