(In a moment of SHEER PARENTAL CRAZINESS, he offered to pay me the prize to motivate me, and I was the one who suggested a bet. Since, you know, the fear of LOSING money is strong in me.)
I will quit my job (or, ideally, they'll let me work less than 4 hours a week, so that I can be on the payroll to keep getting free yoga classes and cheap food). Quitting is important, because I know myself, and I work best if I have a single priority that is very clearly my single priority. (Multi-tasking on a large scale is difficult for me -- health vs. school vs. king house, etc. I'm going to let myself handle one challenge -- THE NOVEL -- at a time here.)
The November deadline is fairly arbitrary, really. I estimated totally at random that it would take me 4 months to write (and edit) my first novel, and sometime in early November is also the deadline for readmittance to Brown for the winter semester -- something I haven't yet decided about either way -- so there's already something marked in the calendar.
I worked out a budget on scrap paper in about thirty seconds. If I complete the novel and sell it (giving myself more budgeted time in order to pimp myself at Harlequin), I will at least break even. (I'd also exactly break even if I remained in my current job -- I make only just enough to meet my insurance and bills.) If I complete it and don't sell it, I'll be out a couple thousand dollars.
I will also have regained my self-worth. This, by me, is important, and worth (EEEEEK) draining my finish-school savings.
For what sounds like it should be a seriously irrational plan ("omg, I will quit my job and WRITE A NOVEL!"), this is remarkably rational. They'll still have stores in four months where I can work retail again.
(No, seriously, what is my dad THINKING!?)
The only way I really lose is, of course, if I say I'm going to do it and I fail.
I picked up some of the romance novels I have lying around tonight to show what I meant by "series fiction", and my parents leafed through one. (My mother was vaguely traumatized at the idea that I would write sex scenes -- despite our numerous conversations about how I already *do* that -- but I reassured her that I'd just "ask some more experienced people to edit for me!" Mothers like answers like that.) My dad, however, finds a bigger problem: "This has a PLOT!" he says, and I start to worry. "There are hostages! And cops! And intrigue!" And I checked the author's note and she made mention of extensive research, and I went "eep." And had a bit of a silent I-can't-DO-THIS!! -I-don't-KNOW-anything!! freakout, because that sounds harder than fanfic.
But my sister's plan of action in life -- which she plans to impart upon me, as it is more effective than my own plan of non-action -- is that "every problem has a solution." And she's right -- once I DECIDE TO DO IT, I can handle it, whether it means writing a novel that avoids lots of things I must research and hostage-taking plots, or just doing the research even though it's not the absolute easiest thing. Because I have these skills. This really isn't that hard. It's not out of the realm of my abilities, just out of the realm of my experience. And it's about time I broke out of my shell.
I just need to decide to do it.
Once I decide, I'll have to come up with some kind of plan/schedule/support system that will allow me to work productively with smaller deadlines rather than have just the big scary final deadline loom off in the distance.
I could create a locked community with scheduled weekly posts for the interested (and/or the benevolent, who just want to cheer/bully me on), but right now that's the best I can come up with. Buddies would be good, too, if anyone else is undertaking something major in the next little while. I plan to treat this like a job -- wherein I have manageable, weekly deadlines and that, if I routinely fail to meet those deadlines I will have to fire myself and get a new job (and fork over a thousand dollars!). However, my dad rightfully pointed out (before the parental craziness and the bet) that making something a job doesn't really work without having a boss, or at least someone else who will be disappointed or inconvenienced if you don't get your work done on time. Any better ideas on how I can make myself accountable?
If you don't count the months of general introspection leading up to this, I'd like to point out that, at fifty-something hours, this was my shortest and least painful existential crisis on record. ;) (No, universe, that was *not* an invitation to mess with me some more. I'm looking for more clarity, here.)
Related only in that it's writing: I'm going to update my website soon, which is right now only current through the fall of 2004. I'm a decade behind everyone else, for instead of using tags, I FINALLY found and noted all my fic in my memories (except comment-ficlets, which I couldn't find, but which can be memory'd in the future!). Explore and enjoy if you want until I update my site. :)