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Top 25! Save the Cat Competition

A lot has happened since my last post!

1) Harvard found my thesis advisor!

2) Schools out for summer!

3) I made it into the top 25 of the Save the Cat Competition!

4) Today is my first day of the year of following my dreams!

While all of those sounds like wonderful things, because they absolutely are, I have also worked through some self doubt. So let’s go through them one at a time, shall we?

1) Harvard found my thesis advisor!

The best laid plans... or so they say! I had a vision of myself spending this summer working solely on my curriculum store and starting my thesis in the fall. That is no longer the case because Harvard accepted my pre-thesis proposal and wants me to jump right into it. For a moment there, I was afraid the thesis would begin before my teaching job even ended. Luckily, it took a minute to find my thesis advisor and so there wasn’t an overlap. I needed a slight break after hustling to get those fellowships ready! Now, I’m ready to get back to work, and I will split my time between the thesis and the curriculum store! I still need to get a lot of curriculum up before the big teacher back to school sale in August!

2) Schools out for summer!

I have been a teacher for six years now and I ended this school year knowing I wouldn’t be back for the next one. While this has been the plan for a long time, the difficult emotions I was facing surprised me. For those of you who don’t know, teaching is a lot of work and an enormous responsibility. I knew I couldn’t write my thesis (a novel) and give the students everything they needed at the same time. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make. I love teaching the students, but I refuse to do things halfway.

I was surprised by how difficult it was to give up a solid full-time job. I thought I would be able to just waltz right into my new life, but I had to work through some serious self doubt. Our society values paid work, not necessarily hard work. I can’t tell you how many people commented about how nice it would be for me to relax all year. As if I am going to sit on my laurels and drink mojitos all day! As someone who values having a hard work ethic, it became difficult for me to realize people thought I would be lazy. And yes, I hear you! Don’t care about what other people think and all that... but I haven’t mastered that skill yet though I am working on it!

And so with a lot of hugs and some tears I said goodbye to my kiddos, wished them luck, and found a place in my house for the plethora of classroom supplies I have collected over the years!

3) The Top 25! Save the Cat Competition

With all this fear about the changes happening in my life, the announcement that I made it into the top 25 couldn’t have come at a better time! For those of you who don’t know, Save the Cat is a very famous screenwriting book which has now turned into a bit of an empire including a big national competition.

I selected Save the Cat as my first competition because it is more plot based (my strength) and they had a rubric (hey, teachers love rubrics!). I could only dream that I would make it up on the board. And when the announcements for the top 25 took longer than I thought they would, I wrote myself off and prepared myself to try again next year! Then right before bed, I checked my email... and BAM! There’s my name in the top 25!

Sure, the top 25 isn’t winning, but it’s still something I can put on my resume and in query letters to agents. Save the Cat will announce the top five in the next couple of weeks, and while I certainly would love to be in that category, I am so pleased to have made it this far. This is the first confirmation from people who aren’t friends, family, or professors that I am not completely crazy for wanting to write as a career. It feels fantastic!

4) Today’s the day!

That leads us to today—Monday! I want writing to be my full-time career so I am treating it as such this year. Without a schedule I fear it would be too easy to do some of that relaxing people were telling me I would do. I have scheduled myself for a 40-hour week to attack my various projects. It’s full pedal to the metal around here!

This is what I am hoping will help me stay productive and successful that you could also try if working at home:

1) I am keeping a consistent wake up schedule (though a bit later than it was for teaching!)

2) I am starting my day with exercise to get my blood pumping and keep myself healthy both physically and mentally.

3) At nine I am at my computer working and at five I’ll be signing off unless I am in the zone.

4) I made a designated workspace for myself. Okay, it’s a closet in the attic with no windows… but it has a door and a place for a plotting board!

5) Before I log off each day I will make my to do list for the next day so I don’t waste any time getting to work.

So there it is! A lot of information about me! This week I will start working on some articles to help other writers out there. Stay tuned and remember to commit to...

Productive dreaming!


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