A huge weight has been lifted from my shoulder.
Earlier this week, the final grade for my last course of my PhD posted. For a normal graduate student this would be a big deal, marking the transition from student to ABD. However, since I’m no longer a graduate student, for me it marks the beginning of the Great Big Breath of Fresh Air. Yes, you read that right: I’m done with graduate school for a while, and will instead be focusing on my writing.
I can’t tell you how much graduate school has stressed me out. My circumstances are fairly common, I think: three small children at home, a full-time job, and an immutable passion for telling stories (or, as some would put it, making up shit and lying all the time). Graduate school was taking my time away from art in ways only a graduate student who is trying to write stories could understand.
I used to think it was the kids that was stressing me out, but plenty of successful writers have children. Then I thought it was graduate school that was stressing me out, and even though Michael Crichton had the capacity to write and publish fiction while in medical school, I’m not so sure I have the capacity to keep up with the stresses of grad school and all the art projects I have in my head at any given time.
For those of us with kids, though, I think having kids really helps someone dump out all the non-essentials from our time. Usually. Not everyone benefits from a resource-attenuated environment that comes with being a parent, but for creative expressionists it might do some good. Recent research into boundaries have shown support for this idea as well, a lot of which is distilled here. For parents specifically, I think the frustration of constantly being interrupted forces your brain to only hold on to those aspects of your imagination that are driving plots and arcs forward.
This month I’ve expanded a large part of the storylines for CAIN, as this book is looking to be a bit bigger than the last one. I’m excited for the feedback rolling in from the beta readers about the first couple chapters, and after having spoken to some of my editorial team (i.e., my wife and dog), it seems like the twists and turns have turned this into an even larger roller coaster ride than the first book.
Speaking of CAIN, here’s a couple cover concepts I was playing with:
Not sure which one I like more but I do know I’ll end up changing them in the future. For me, it’s creatively helpful to work on cover art when I am letting thoughts and story ideas marinade in my head.
I have a soft deadline of the middle of September to finish CAIN, so that means I might have it all polished by Christmas (ooh!). Having it done in time for everyone’s new Kindles would be great.
Well that’s it for now. I have about two hours this morning to write and then it’s off to hang out with the family.
Do you want to be a beta reader? I’d love your input on CAIN as the story unfolds. You get a free copy of Burrow and exclusive access to future upcoming works–including the one I’d like you to beta read (duh). Send me an email (jesse at lawsonry.com) to get started!