Monday, March 31, 2014

"Dear April": A Writer's Month-By-Month Guide to the Year by Michael Gettel-Gilmartin

I'm sure I'm not the only writer who made resolutions back in January and now, in what seems like the blink of an eye, we're on the precipice of April! If one of you Mayhemmers could come up with an invention to slow down time, it would be much appreciated!!

I'm also just coming off a week of Spring Break with the kiddos, in which lots of fun was had but not much writing was done. So, in honor of the accelerating calendar, I thought it might be amusing to map out the writing year for those of us writers who still have children in school...

  • The calendar pops to another year, and it's time to trot out the writing resolutions (more pages, more fun, more queries to agents/editors.) But the kids are still on winter break and Grandma shows no signs of returning to her home. 
  • Also, you ate too many Christmas cookies and now need to devise an exercise program. Resolve to get up from your chair and meditate by the window at least three times per hour. 
  • Tell everyone that your writing year begins in February. 
  • At last you've got the house to yourself. 
  • You're kicking the exercise out of the park because you have added a regime of walking to check the mailbox every couple of hours to see if those books you won on those blog tours have arrived yet.
  • But somehow you also signed up to be part of the parent team at school to celebrate Chinese New Year AND Valentine's Day.
  • Cheer yourself up by scarfing down a bunch of valentine's chocolate. In a cacao-induced euphoria, plan out a six book dystopian fantasy in your head because, by golly, editors may be tired of dystopia, but kids are still reading it.
  • Check with your kids that they are still reading it. Plan to write a gamer graphic novel instead.
  • Now you're really rolling--especially with filling out your March Madness bracket and dreaming what you're going to do with the $200 pool prize money. Heck, you might even go to a writing conference.
  • The graphic novel's not going anywhere because your 10-year-old ("the illustrator") has "a different vision."
  • Go into a writing frenzy because Spring Break's just around the corner.
  • Parade around the house with the chapter you've finally written.
  • Decree April to be your favorite month--you survived Spring Break, and there are hardly any teacher inservice days!
  • But... you forgot that taxes are due on the 15th. 
  • Spend the rest of the month searching for receipts and forms in your home office (a.k.a. the Black Hole of Despair.)
  • File an extension on your taxes.
  • Decide you're going to write a horror novel, because you overheard your neighbor, Wendell, discussing your weed problem with your other neighbor, Alice. Title the novel "The Weeds That Ate Wendell and Alice." Spend many happy hours plotting more and more hideous torments for poor A & W.
  • Take a mental health day, and spend the rest of the month planning where you'll plop your laptop for the Memorial Day weekend.
  • Freak out because the kids have only 13 more days of school.
  • Calculate they have 82 days of vacation and race to see if you can still sign them up for camps.
  • Discover that the only camps with openings cost several thousand dollars
  • Write a series of poems that remind everyone who reads them of Sylvia Plath.
  • The kids are home
  • The kids are home
  • The kids go back to school
  • Spend the rest of the month dancing around the house singing "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." After all, all that dancing is excellent exercise.
  • You've become a pretty good dancer, but now you must focus on writing that novel. Take several online tests to see if you are a pantser or a plotter. Discover you are a planter. Or is it a plotser?
  • Admit that the chapter you wrote in March really should be in 1st person present tense rather than third person past. Also, change the sex of the main character from female to male. Now you're ready to make progress.
  • Get derailed by planning Halloween, and then recovering from a midnight assault on the kids' trick-or-treat candy. Vow never to eat a Snickers bar ever again.
  • Spend way too much time reading books entitled "Write Your Novel in 30-Days" and "How to Survive an IRS Audit." Make plans to go back to school and learn to be a massage therapist. After all, you are already an expert in unknotting all the kinks in your own neck--you might as well get paid for doing it for others.
  • Change your mind, and attempt to enroll in culinary school. Experiment with 15 different ways to roast a turkey.
  • Vow never to eat turkey again. Spend Thanksgiving hovering by the dessert table.
  • Wander about, asking everyone who will listen "Where has the year gone?"
  • Show your true writing colors by composing and designing the funniest holiday letter ever. Stick in so many .gifs that rumor has it half your family suffered migraines while reading it.
  • Throw out the previous draft of your novel. Actually, don't just throw it out--dress like a druid on the Winter Solstice and feed the pages one by one into a funeral pyre. 
  • The kids are on vacation. Again.
  • Prepare for the New Year. After all, this will be the one where you finally make it...
Hope your year's been nothing like mine! Remember, keep the faith and keep on writing!!


  1. Hahaha. This definitely sounds familiar. Have you been spying on me?

  2. I'll get right to work on that invention, Michael!

    This is hilarious! So that's why I never got any writing done when my kids were younger. Too true. Especially love that bit about the illustrator having a different vision. Ha!

  3. Oh man, there's always something trying to get in the way!

  4. Sounds so terribly familiar...Actually I'm wondering what I'll do 18 months from now when both my children will be graduated from high school and away at college. WHO WILL I BLAME FOR MY LACK OF PROGRESS???

  5. This is hilarious! And SO true- I'm glad to know I'm in good company:)


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!