My deadline has passed and I've turned in my revision of Minnow. I could sleep for a million years. I'm only now coming out of the fog of it, that feeling you get when you've stared at a piece of writing for so long you start calling people in real life character names from your book (...which happened). It was such a privilege to get to do the edits, and to have editors who understand Minnow and gave such thoughtful suggestions. I'm really happy with all of the changes. Writing on a deadline was different from any kind of writing I've ever done. Luckily, this wasn't the kind of deadline where it's the last time I'll get to work on the book (that deadline is July 15). The time restriction was really challenging. I spent several hours everyday after school revising, so that there was basically not a waking moment when I wasn't working. It was exhausting. I started to get really irritated whenever my roommates would say "We never see you!" because in my head, it sounded like "You suck at life! You are neglecting everything!"
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I've always felt the teaching dream and the writing dream have been a little at odds. Both want to consume every moment of your attention. It hasn't been much of a problem, though, because writing has always fit into the extra spaces of my time. I've written whole books like that, piecemeal, and I don't think the quality has suffered. Until this deadline. The thing about that kind of tedious editing is that, for me at least, you don't really get into the book for, like, 45 minutes. It takes that long to get into a groove. That's why lots of writers hole themselves up in cabins and hotel rooms to finish editing. You need long stretches of uninterrupted time. I didn't have that. I had small chunks after I'd already worked a full day. It was tough, and most of the time I felt like I was just barely treading water. I got ragingly sick one day around my deadline. It was a weird sickness--my entire head felt like it was being stabbed by vibrating metal needles, and I was so dizzy when I moved around, I threw up (I haven't thrown up since I was twelve). I think it was a migraine, and I'm fairly certain it was brought on by exhaustion and anxiety. I'm also certain I never want to feel like that again. Pushing your limits is great. Running headlong into them until you keel over is another thing. I'm learning these things. The experience has taught me so much about what activities in my life are sustainable. It's also made me ask lots of questions about what I want out of life and the direction my future will take. I'm optimistic.