Note: this post does not refer to the novella It is May, a historical romance/adventure set in the last days of the Roman Empire, due out this summer in a collection of stories around the theme of Faith.
Guess what I have on my calendar today?
Guess what’s on it for tomorrow.
I do have a Rotary Club lunch on Wednesday. Otherwise, guess what’s on the calendar that day?
That’s right. And the day after, and the day after that.
It is May, and I am not working.
Of course, in the absolute sense, this isn’t so. I’ll be writing 1700 words a day or so, as I have every day since November. I’ll be editing the really massive amount of literary production I’ve created since around this time last year: four novels completed, one more about a week away; five novellas, seventeen short stories. I will be creating lesson plans for the fall, when I’ll be teaching the heaviest class load of my life, and doing the research to support those lesson plans.
Reading. Taking walks. Singing music for the fun of it. Memorizing poetry. Digging in my garden. Driving my kids some of the innumerable places they have to go.
I thought this over back in January, looking at a lengthy period through the first third of the year when I was, essentially, going to be working three full-time jobs. The mortgage business was in flux, and needing serious attention. I had school to teach at two different schools, and for three of those weeks (last week, for instance) at three different ones. Along with that, I was attempting the launch of my Patreon site and becoming a working writer, with obligations to produce at least two quality shorts a month. Then there was an enhanced commitment to spiritual devotion, including thirty minutes in the scriptures every day, and a major role in a community theater production, and a new choir that I had joined that had three concerts in the first four months of the year. If I could handle all that, I would surely need some kind of a break along about May.
I’ve been at this mortgage stuff as my main career for thirteen years now; with City First for seven. The way I operate – not anyone’s fault but mine – I am essentially never off duty. When my clients need me, or my team, I’m there. I call back, nights, weekends, holidays, all the time. I have turned my phone off less than five times in the last ten years (it has run out of battery a few more than that). Again, not anyone’s fault but mine, but that is the way I feel maximizes my strengths as a mortgage guy. It’s also exhausting, even when I am not essentially holding down three part-time-plus jobs along with it.
It’s time to take a rest.
That’s what this month is about. I am, as you may know, a huge fan of the Sabbath, and I mean in the traditional sense. I do not work for money on Sundays. When I write, I write explicitly religious stories with strong elements of faith and devotion. The concept of the Sabbath, and its close relative the sabbatical (note the shared linguistic root), is millennia old. It made sense then, and it makes even more sense in the modern age, though we so rarely make time for it. I am committed to do so.
There will be more writing this month. There will be less phone, text, and Facebook. More reading: I have, next to my bed, fifteen books that I’m going to read this month, everything from a biography of Hatshepsut to a book on physics. I’m three hours into it, and already I can’t believe how much calmer and less rushed I feel.
The month has plenty in it. I’ll be publishing two shorts to Patreon, attending two conferences, and going for four days to Oregon with my wife alone – something we’ve done just once in the last ten years. I’ve got a fishing trip planned with my son. I’ve done a lot of this before.
But this time, my phone will be off.