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“Well, I’m Back”: How to Cope With Real Life After Finishing a Great Book

Lately, I’ve been putting my novel on hold for two reasons:

One: I’ve got a different  writing project coming up this week that will take up a whole lot of time and give me more experience in the long run, which is totally awesome,

and Two: I’ve been reading Lord of the Rings.

I’ve been saying that last sentence for the past month now, and at ten after eleven this evening my eyes passed over the final sentence of Return of the King. I think those who have taken on the task of diving into these babies understand me when I say, much like Samwise Gamgee’s feelings of sorrow after parting with Frodo, I too feel empty. A little bit lost, even. (I’d have warned you about spoilers but at this point if you haven’t at least seen one of the movies, you’ve been living under a fairly large rock. Everybody likes Lord of the Rings; you need help.)

It never takes me this long to get through three novels, especially if I pace myself, but work and post university summer fun got in the way. Instead of doing chapter sprints I was going to movies and bonfires and other things that dorky kids like me find themselves getting into. And so the book just kept getting pushed deeper and deeper into the endless pit known as my handbag, and I shuffled through it, a couple pages at a time. (I’d have said purse, but I didn’t want uppity, proper people wondering why I shove books in the same spot I keep my pennies.)

At one point, getting through the trilogy was taking so long that didn’t think I’d ever see the end. BUT, today I had a few hours of free time, so I fired through the last two hundred pages of that sucker and I did it. I’m done.

Except, I don’t really know what to make of myself right now. I’ve been spending too much time in Middle-Earth and now that I’m back home in my plain old bedroom, a place that noticeably lacks hobbits, elves, or orcs of any sort, I’m feeling a little bit hazy. They really need to start slapping warning labels on the spines: Do not drive while in the process of absorbing Tolkien’s brainchild; you will hit things. It’s like I’m walking through dreamland; I hate it.It’s as if, with the closing of every book, the back cover whispers to you, “Morning, Sunshine. Welcome home; enjoy trying to get over this one, dollface, muahahahahahahaha.”

It’s safe to say I’m having trouble moving on.

But, as most of us with literature addictions know, the only way to cure a lit-hangover is to never stop reading in the first place. Good thing the stack of books I’ve got ready to go is taller than my desk.

On to the next adventure.

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Welcome to the SS Opportunity, AKA My Life

I’m at an interesting crossroads in my writing journey. The novel is coming. I’m happy with it– even though its only the first draft–and I can see it going somewhere if I ever have enough time to finish it. But it isn’t just the fiction-prose aspect of my life that’s going swimmingly, because in just the past two weeks, many other things have gone more than “all right.” Some things, I didn’t even know existed. But I’ll take it.

I’ve got job opportunities. Literal paying job opportunities that allow me to put my skills to work. I mean, at my age, who gets that? It’s like every dream I’ve ever had about making a living out of the shit floating around in my head is coming true in one single summer, just in ways I didn’t expect. My goal of becoming a novelist is still intact; in fact, it’s more solid than ever. But now there are diverse writing projects coming my way that are allowing me to explore areas I didn’t even know I’d do well in. It’s exciting.

I’m running full tilt, and I still can’t see the finish line, but I sure as hell haven’t tripped yet.

Might as well keep the adrenaline flowing and sprint a little longer, huh?

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The Number Five

For as long as I can remember, my favourite number has been eighteen. I just like the look of it. Every sports team I played on as a kid, had me doing my best to make sure I wore that number on my back. I looked forward to my eighteenth birthday. I smiled everywhere I saw it. It sounded so cool, and so very quickly, it became my lucky number.

I’m here today to say goodbye to eighteen, in favour of a new number. Five hasn’t been particularly prominent in my life, until today. Now I feel that I must give it the recognition it deserves. Tomorrow, I’ll be hitting a milestone in the first draft of this novel: fifty thousand words. That’s a pretty big number that starts with, you guessed it,  five.

Currently, I’m sitting at forty five thousand words, which is only, yep, that’s right, five thousand away from goal number one.

I’m also only five pages away from hitting one hundred fifty.

I know I have a few more hours left in my work day to aim to reach that goal, or at least work myself closer, but this spot of fives seems way too cool to wreck just now. So I’m going to stop, and head for the checkpoint in the morning.

No, I’m not superstitious; I just like the look of a goal I can remember without having to pull up my word count every five (pun intended) minutes. Everything is running smoothly, and I couldn’t be happier.

That totally sounded obsessive compulsive.
I’m going to stop now.

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Getting Paid To Do What You Love And Other Mind Blowing Tales

At this point in my life, I like to consider myself the luckiest woman on earth. If you enjoy waking up each morning to get ready for work, you’ve got it made. It doesn’t matter if you’re a cab driver, a baker, a stock-broker, a mime, or a street corner guitarist, if you’re doing what you love and can make enough money to make sure the bills are paid, you’re set. Though I can’t see much of what my future looks like–which to be quite honest, is a little bit scary–I’m excited for it, because if things continue to go the way they’re going now, at least I know I’ll be content wherever I’ll end up.

Have I mentioned before that I love my job?

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What Cloud Nine Looks Like: Hobbit Adventures to Mount Awesome

This summer–though I won’t be prancing off to conferences and sports tournaments in other countries for once–has probably been one of the more eventful ones of my life. It may be because it’s been two months longer than all previous summers, or it may be that I’m leaving home in August for the first time ever and want to spend as much time as I can tying up lose ends and all that jazz. Regardless, I don’t think I have ever been as excited about the future as I am now.

On top of the novel– which is coming along nicely to my relief and surprise– the writing opportunities that have found me are immense, and for once I actually can tell people that I don’t just write for fun. These little side projects have turned into the main focus of my life; I’m getting paid to do a few of them, and now, instead of trading in my notebooks for textbooks when school starts this fall, I actually get to pull them out in earnest, because I’m going to school to fool around with fiction (partnered in with a whole lot of history, which isn’t fiction but is just as cool). Creative Writing degrees actually exist, and if you’re serious enough to work your ass off  to keep out of applying for the manager’s position at McDonald’s, you might just find yourself doing something after grad school. I’m halfway there. Little small-city writer girl is taking off, and for once, I don’t have to question whether or not this profession is for me.

For one, I didn’t have to go searching for chances. I’ve made a big enough name for myself to have to offers come to me, and they’ve been rolling in faster than deadlines during the last three weeks of class. Of course, I’m still going to have to look for opportunities, but now there’s no doubt in my mind that someday my name is going to be on the cover of a novel that people actually want to read. Why? Because in the meantime, I’m working on a whole bunch of little things that people want to read already and that is totally freakin’ awesome. For realz. Yo.

It’s the coolest thing in the world to start out on an uncertain path, only to have your choice ratified by things like this. I don’t care if you’re religious or not, but God’s laying down stepping stones like crazy, and I’m eagerly one-foot hopping all the way to my goal, which can now thankfully be seen on the horizon. It’s a little dot; kind of grey and fuzzy, but it’s there nonetheless, and I can’t wait to reach it. At this point, I’m likening my journey to the one Bilbo Baggins took in Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”, partly because I’m halfway through reading Lord of the Rings and partly because I can’t help but notice how bloody long it takes hobbits to reach mountains.

I’m getting there. I’m writing, I’m in love with it, and who knows? I may actually be able to support myself on this stuff. Until then, I’ll work my way to what the world calls a real career in university, and do it on the side. Either way, I’m in love with the way things are going.

Expect a few road blocks. It’s times like these when I start wondering when they’ll show up, not because I’m a pessimist or anything, but because I haven’t had any yet. Bilbo made it through a few easy leagues before bumping into the trolls, after all.

Right now though, I’m doing just fine without my handkerchief.