Balancing too many hats!

Some will argue that a woman can’t have too many hats. I disagree, at least in the metaphorical sense.

My metaphorical hats are popping up in abundance right now. Multiple projects compete for my attention:

Holiday gift shopping

Completing the current draft of my novel-in-progress to share with my first reader and critique partner

Revising the draft and sending it out for critique by middle grade students, teachers and librarians

Preparing presentations for the Nevada Reading Week Conference

Completing continuing education courses for CPA license renewal

Completing the Board Policy Manual for Women Writing the West

Agent queries for my middle grade historical fiction novel, completed in 2014 and still looking for a home

Something about the nearing end of 2017 (or any year, for that matter) sets off a series of alarms in me. You see, I used to make my living as an accountant. Quarterly and annual payroll and tax reports and, for retail or manufacturing clients and employers, inventory, all came hard on the heels of the holidays. When I was working for a public accounting firm in the 1980s, I spent more than one New Year’s Eve counting stuff in chilly warehouses. It took me decades to get over that experience. Or perhaps I haven’t fully recovered? When I look at the above list I still think Ohmygod! I have to finish all of this by the end of the year!

Not true. Not even close.

As we all know, the key to unpacking this level of panic is (wait for it) prioritizing the projects. One useful analytical tool is ranking projects by due date. With this in mind, let’s take another look at my list:

Holiday gift shopping-We celebrate Christmas as our winter holiday, something with a hard and fast date. Gifts to be mailed priority must be sent by December 19; the rest should be purchased (or baked) and wrapped by December 23, to allow some breathing space.

Completing the current draft of my novel-in-progress to share with my first reader and critique partner-This one is an ASAP, as a chain of events is tied to it:

Revising the draft for critique by middle grade students (the target audience), teachers and librarians-I’m aiming to send middle grade teachers and librarians the manuscript when school starts back up in January. The timing is critical here, because collecting critiques and other information from this process will be incorporated in one of the:

Presentations for the Nevada Reading Week Conference, which has the hard and fast dates of March 2nd and 3rd. For details, see their website:

Continuing education courses for CPA license renewal-While it’s true I no longer work as a CPA, I can’t bear the thought of losing my license because it was so hard to get (3 day exam, 1,000 hours of what amounts to an apprenticeship, etc.). Besides, I might need it someday! Well, I might, you never know. Then I could stress out even more at the end of the year. However, I’ve completed 60 credits, so I’m halfway to my education requirement for 2016-2018 and have exceeded completion of the minimum number of credits required for both 2016 and 2017. Though I have four self-study courses sitting alongside my desk, to be completed by the end of 2018, there’s plenty of time to get this done- -later! Continuing education, move to the end of the list.

Board Policy Manual project for Women Writing the West-This is an ongoing project, to be addressed at a January, 2018 board meeting. Definitely ahead of continuing education and also ahead of:

Agent queries for my middle grade historical fiction novel, completed in 2014 and still looking for a home-Middle grade historical fiction is an incredibly hard sell, especially if it doesn’t incorporate magic and/or time travel (mine does not). Since July of 2017, the start of what I’ll call my “latest round,” I’ve sent out six queries and netted five rejections. But hey, one of the agents said it was an interesting concept, though not right for her at this time! For the non-writers out there, this is what we call a positive rejection and it is cause for a low level of rejoicing. I have six more possible agents to query in this round. Given the results so far, though I hate to temporarily shelve the process, it holds nowhere near the priority of getting the current manuscript completed, critiqued, revised, critiqued again by middle school students, teachers and librarians and incorporated as part of a presentation that will happen either March 2nd or March 3rd.

To recap:

  1. Finish the current draft of the manuscript in progress by mid-December and get it to the first reader and the critique partner, requesting a quick turn-around
  2. At the same time, finish the Christmas shopping
  3. Remember to breathe during the holidays, once, anyway
  4. Revise the manuscript-in-progress and send it to participating teachers and librarians the first week of January, requesting feedback at their earliest convenience
  5. Okay, now we’re well into 2018. Review the status of the Board Policy Manual project for Women Writing the West and be ready to discuss this at the January board meeting, including a project completion plan with timeline
  6. Also the first week of January, get to work on both presentations for the Nevada Reading Week Conference. Incorporate feedback from middle graders’ critique of the manuscript-in-progress as received. In January and February, research, review, revise, rehearse, repeat!
  7. Agents, I’ll start bugging you again when I get back from the Nevada Reading Week Conference. Who knows, maybe I’ll even meet some of you there?
  8. Continuing education, chances are good I’ll get back to you sometime in April. DEFINITELY before the end of September.

I hope you and yours are roaring toward the end of 2017 unencumbered by a plethora of metaphorical hats. If we pass each other when we’re out and about in the next few weeks, I hope we’ll take a moment to wish each other Happy Holidays (I’m good with however you choose to celebrate) and a joyous 2018. But here’s the thing- -don’t say a word about hats.

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