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Zooming to a Finish?

First Draft - DONE!

Well, I would not say I zoomed to a finish, but I definitely completed the manuscript.

I can't remember which author it was who said, "I know I'm done with a book when I can't stand to look at it a second longer." Ooh boy, isn't that the truth, though. At least for me. Later, much later, I can read it and fall in love again, but for now, the thought of even reading one of the chapters is absolutely a solid NO.

Short-Term Rental Success: Create Welcoming Five Star Stays is off to my editor. When she finishes with it, I hope a sufficient amount of time has passed, since it will then need a serious read-through to edit, cull, and possibly re-organize any areas of repetition, et cetera.

Seasonal Writing

A few episodes ago on Joanna Penn's The Creative Penn podcast, she interviewed an author who writes seasonally. As in, she writes mainly in the winter. They didn't go into the reasons why. She had kids, so that might have been a good motivator to slow down on writing during the summer in order to do activities with the kids, or perhaps she is an obsessed gardener like me. In the end, she found that stopping the intensive writing during the summer, worked for her.

Sometimes, the simplest of ideas escapes me. I'm just plodding along, doing my thing, and the realization, for example, that I could take a summer off, rocks my worldview. Despite trying to diligently avoid the coulda, woulda, shoulda's - I find myself instead feeling guilty over abandoning a writing project to go dig in the dirt every spring.

This year wasn't that bad. I had a due date of the end of winter to finish Winter's Child and I think I did pretty well at sticking to it. I knew I would want to scamper outside the minute the weather allowed it and begin mucking about in the garden, and I tried to make allowances for that. But for some reason, hearing that someone else practiced seasonal writing allowed me to begin to visualize what that would mean for me, and how I could go about doing it.

Two Books - at the Same Time?

Which leads to my next possible project(s)...

This past weekend, as I felt the end of Short-Term Rental Success drawing close, my mind immediately moved from finishing energy to starting energy and "what do I want to do next?" Because, when it all comes down to it, I'm like a hummingbird on crack, always looking for my next project.

I'm also rather grounded. I'd rather finish a project than start an new one. Especially since the ideas and beginnings of way too many projects march about in the back of my mind and demand I DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEM. I opened up The Glass Forest - a first in a series of up to twelve young adult fantasy series I began writing half of my life ago as a short "write a descriptive scene" exercise. That grew into something far bigger. Within the last 5-10 years it went from a few outlined chapters to 50,000 words, and about 2/3 complete.

Why haven't I finished it? Imposter syndrome. I kept feeling it lacked something, and while that might be true, it can't stop lacking something if I don't dig in and fix it. So it has been returned to, and abandoned at least a dozen times over the years.

A couple of days ago, I downloaded Wonder on my phone and played around with the algorithms to generate these two images that might eventually be used for the covers, although probably not. The first is for The Glass Forest and the second for Book 2, The See of Payne...

And then there is my other manuscript that is likely 3/4 of the way done - Quit Your Job, Change Your Life: 40 Life-Changing Strategies for the Disaffected. If I thought imposter syndrome was bad with my first fantasy novel, I can't even begin to describe how hard it hits with QYJ, CYL. Oh wow, so, so bad. It runs the gamut from saying to me, "Seriously, you, YOU are going to try and tell folks how to change their lives? How much do you make, anyway? Nothing. You are no one important." To, "Seriously, you couldn't even cut it as a life coach." And, "Can you sound any more condescending in your writing?"

That inner voice, often referred to as imposter syndrome, is nasty, insidious, and horribly, horribly depressing. It seeks to inflict on me, you, or anyone else, their deepest fears of failure and insufficiency. It is the biggest obstacle to forward movement, life change, and more - and it is within all of us to some degree or another.

That said, I watched a great TED talk by Tim Ferriss (author of the Four Hour Work Week) the other day that talked about stoicism and defining your fears instead of your goals. As Tim was talking, and I was stopping and starting the video in order to take notes, I thought of his book's message and wondered at his background, since the book falls under Motivational and Personal Transformation categories. And while Tim does have a business degree, from Princeton no less, there was nothing in regards to life coaching or psychology in his educational background. Instead, in the TED talk he spoke of his personal struggles with depression, and over work, and how those two major hurdles had led to taking a year off from entrepreneurship and led him to write the book.

And while it might be overly simplistic of me - I lobbed that at the imposter syndrome and said, "See, no experience as a life coach. Simply life experience. Now finish the damned book!"

My point is this...

There will always be someone more experienced, more lettered, more talented, than ourselves. It doesn't make our message any less powerful or helpful to others.

I ended up telling myself, "Write the book. Folks will read it and make their own decisions on whether it is helpful or not." After all, if reading it helps even a small handful of people to change their lives for the better, isn't that worth a month (or possibly less) of finishing energy? I've done 3/4 of the work already. I'm nearly all the way there!

And that's how two, count them, TWO, book projects are clamoring for completion in the last two months of the year. I will likely tackle The Glass Forest first. If only because, after spending the summer in non-fiction work, I need a break. I should know in a week or so, how long that will take, and then plan for QYJ, CYL accordingly.

Short-Term Rental Projects

We had 20 tons of gravel delivered last Wednesday, with another 10 tons yesterday. It has made a significant difference, our driveway is now over 100' deep and 25' wide and leads all the way down to the Airstream! This has been on my "gotta do" list since last winter and I'm so happy we are finally tackling it. Tomorrow's delivery should do it, once we spread it all out, and keep our guests from driving off the driveway in the snow and getting stuck. It also means far more space for more vehicles, something that is necessary for our future short-term rental RV destination at the back of Cottage West.

Covid caused some serious financial upheaval for us, and it has taken a while to recover from it. That said, we are finally at the point where I can start nailing down finish dates (based on projected future earnings and savings) for our two additional STRs - Proud Mary and Cottage East.

Proud Mary, the name I finally settled on for our newest RV, a 1969 Holiday Rambler, has now been relocated to a west corner of the yard where she will serve as our second RV short-term rental. We still have to move her to the west by another 2-3 feet, but that will be after we have completed any work on that side of things since she will butt up to the retaining wall that Alex and I installed at the east edge of Cottage West's backyard. My husband installed a brand-new lock on her, and we will finish the interior demo, replace the flooring, and continue to work on renovations with a proposed finish date of late March 2023. I hope to open her up to guests by April 2023.

Cottage East just passed inspection from the city, and we will be turning on electric to her as soon as the electric company has the time to come and do that. Basic security lights to the exterior will be run, and also some basic lighting inside and an outlet or two to handle a heater or power tools. Each month we set aside $1400 or more for renovations, plus anything we earn over a set amount. The numbers add up surprisingly quickly, and I estimate that we will have enough in funds to completely fund all renovations by August 2024. Since we will pay as we go, that likely means that by September 2024, or October 2024 at the latest, we will have Cottage East available for guests as our final short-term rental. I can't tell you how exciting that is! Two years of scrimping and saving and we will finally be able to focus on paying off our mortgages and living 100% debt-free by fall 2029!

Fingers crossed all goes as planned. Which is to say, nothing ever does, but I'm getting better at recovering from those sharp right turns.

Be well, folks. Fight the good fight, and try to smile while you are doing it!

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