FEBRUARY HAS BEEN SOMETHING ELSE
Now that the chaos of January has passed, things are starting to settle into more of a "routine" of sudden fits of stress brought on by things like... the IRS misfiling our taxes for multiple years, random requests for house-related paperwork, and plotting out the logistics of moving an hour away.
We don't have to house hunt every weekend, and we actually spent brief windows of time over the last two weekends socializing with other humans. Imagine that! And packing, of course. Consistent packing of the things that it makes sense to pack a month/three weeks/two weeks in advance. Let's not talk about how little we've packed already, okay? Let's just focus on the positive things. We've packed stuff! We've gotten rid of things we don't need. We have purchased cute new things for the house that we do need. This is all good stuff. GOOD STUFF.
WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE OUR FAVORITE CRIMINAL MASTERMIND, ROSITA?
In pretty good hands, actually. With a reduced goal of 15k words for this month, and more pockets of time now that we're not flitting down to Salem every weekend and refreshing Zillow every few minutes... I was able to net a considerable number of hours toward writing on Rosita Ruins the Heist in the last few weeks. Can you even believe it? Well, it's true. I'm slowly, slowly, ever so slowly, inching closer and closer to the finish line of a completed manuscript.
I even took a few FREE lunch-break writing workshops last week, and they provided some nice motivation and/or opportunity just to learn/relearn craft. It was nice to have a chance to be in community with fellow writers/editors who are also committed to making good art and that's just the kind of energy you need to cultivate when everything is crisis and chaos, isn't it?
I also have to shout-out my buddy Brian Parker of Believe in Wonder Publishing for contacting me this weekend about exchanging some editorial services for his brilliantly beautiful artwork, which led me down a rabbit-hole of renewed interest in Metal Heart (pulling together character descriptions and visual references will do that), and now I'm feeling inspired to visit that world again in the next few years. It's nice to collaborate, and it's nice to spend time with my favorite imaginary friends. It was a bright spot in an otherwise turbulent time and I'm grateful for that.
THE BAD STUFF
Doesn't that all sound great? Doesn't it seem like everything is coming together? We booked our PODS and were making a plan to enlist friends and family members to help us move and unpack the weekend of February 25-27.
AND THEN, COVID hit the family. My daughter spent this past weekend with my mother-in-law and brother-in-law so Dan and I could concentrate on some of the grosser parts of packing (our individual sheds and cleaning out/packing up the inflatable hot tub). This past Sunday, my BIL started exhibiting signs of COVID --- fever and nausea. He was confined to his room once the symptoms hit, but likely the exposure had already happened.
My daughter and MIL arrived back at our house on Sunday evening for dinner. We sent my MIL home with two boxes of at-home tests, and kept our fingers crossed. But about an hour after she left, we got the dreaded news... my BIL tested positive (TWICE) for COVID. Uh oh.
Yesterday, my daughter started complaining about having a sore throat. This morning, she woke up with a fever. We conducted one COVID test, despite her pleas, and weren't quite able to get high enough into her nostrils, so the test came back negative. The second I managed to get a little deeper, but it also came back negative. There's no denying that she's actively sick after a prolonged, multi-day exposure to a COVID positive individual. Weirdly, my MIL's at-home COVID tests also came back negative and she's had no symptoms.
We contacted my daughter's advice nurse and have a virtual visit set up for later this afternoon. Not sure what the results of that will be, but it's something in the face of nothing. Humans are so funny that way---the way we try to exert some semblance of control as we're battered about in the winds of constant change and catastrophe. It's cute. It's adorable. We're such a dumb species.
In the interim, we're all just kind of hunkered down and quarantined and have notified our various people about the potential upset to our schedules if we end up dreadfully sick. It's nice that we're all working from home still, because THAT aspect doesn't change too much for us.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
We plan to just keep trucking and doing what we can, when we can, to the capacity that we can. Our PODS will be delivered this Wednesday 2/16 (tomorrow) and we've already packed up dozens of bags and boxes which we can start loading. There's more and more things to pack, and we can do that until we can't. We have a backup plan, if we're COVID positive in the next week or so, to hire movers to unpack the boxes on the Salem end, so we don't expose a bunch of friends/family to a potentially deadly virus. We've been pretty organized with our labeling system and that might be helpful in mitigating interactions once we're down in Salem for the unpacking part. *fingers crossed*
On the writing end of things---I'm actually in a pretty good place in Rosita where I'm setting up for the third and final heist. I'm basically in the last third or final quarter of the story, nestled somewhere in the grey area between the two, which is aligned with hitting the 100k word mark to end things (probably end of March 2022), and then going back to cut that down to 80-85k (as close as I can get to that).
Other factors that are coming into play, besides moving and COVID: I have a legitimately fun CE on my plate, an exciting partnership with Brian Parker creating some artwork for the Metal Heart series, and just lining up more editing work for my side hustle. The new day-job is kicking up with some larger scale projects and I'll actually be doing final editing on some chapters of a textbook (a new skillset unlocked).
Everything was feeling insanely overwhelming yesterday and yagirl had a bit of a breakdown + stomach health issue flareup. But I'm feeling a bit better today, as I predicted I might. Just focusing on what I can with my current time and not trying to have a larger plan for tackling everything all at once.
Despite all of the odds stacked against me (us), I feel like, at least with writing, I put myself in a pretty solid position to meet my goal for this month and that's no small feat when everything towering up around me is monumentally, sky-scrapingly large.
As of right now: I've logged 84,870 words. My current hope is to hit 90k words by end of February, with an expanded goal to hit 100k words---and the ending of Rosita---by March 28, 2022. Not sure how many curveballs the move and COVID will throw at us before the end of the month, but I'm fairly certain I can knock out 5k words by that time, writing in the only way one can... by putting one word after the other. One word at a time. One crisis at a time. That's the current rate at which I'm approaching life.
Melinda Jasmine Crouchley, YA science fiction author and professional editor.