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The Year in Review

December 27, 2016

I haven’t blogged in a couple months, and while I’ve made some progress in that span, it’s not really anything I can write about publicly at this time. I should have some new developments in the new year, but for now, I figured I should look back at this past year.

I wrote in October of 2015 that I expected to be finished the writing process by now. I’m close, but I’m not there yet. I’m almost entirely done the research process, though, and will be reaching out to agents and publishers in just a few weeks.

There are, as always, a lot of little reasons why I didn’t hit the loose deadline I set for myself, but there are two big ones worth mentioning. The first is one I’ve mentioned many times before: the folks I’m writing about—the folks on whom I’m relying for interviews—are by and large pretty flaky. Phone calls go unanswered, texts and emails unreturned. When I can get someone to commit to a time for an interview, the meeting gets postponed or cancelled entirely (often without a word of explanation). This was easy to manage when the book was the only thing I focused on, as it was for my first few months in Athens. But after a little while, I had other things on my plate, which made managing all of those meetings and interviews more cumbersome, and momentum was impossible to maintain.

That brings me to my other point, which is that I’ve gotten busier than I expected. As you may recall, a major reason I moved back to Athens for this final push was because I wanted to leave my desk job in Philadelphia and did not feel like I could step into another similar position and maintain my sanity. I needed badly to finish this project on its own merits (its incompleteness has hung over my head for years now), but I also needed badly to Get Away. After about five years at different jobs since college—none of them in my chosen field—I felt depressed and anxious and still believe that that sort of lifestyle was a big reason for those feelings. When I first moved to Athens, my plan was to take it easy for a couple months and then find a part-time job that could keep me afloat while I worked on the book without depleting my savings entirely. But after it was clear that no amount of effort could speed up this process—that I was relying on other, mostly unreliable people—I realized I needed to find something more sustainable.

So I started working. I found a tutoring job and a few steady freelance gigs ranging from editing to scholastic assessment. It’s enough to keep me in the black month to month. I’ve also stepped up my writing game, with two of my best pieces having been published in the past few months and another I’m very excited about coming in the near future. I’ve stepped out of the “music writer” box and diversified my portfolio.

I don’t think a full-time writing job is likely, and I don’t know whether this cobbled-together “independent contractor” thing will be sustainable in the short or long term when I move Athens’s low cost of living, but at the very least, I’ve put myself in a position to find a job outside of the demoralizing world of “online marketing” I felt boxed into. So that’s been good.

With regard to the book, what I accomplished this year was bringing together all of the disparate pieces into a cohesive whole. I have a pretty sturdy draft that reads well from start to finish. Truthfully, it was probably ready to publish months ago, and I often feel like I’m holding out for perfection at this point, which would obviously be a mistake. But I’ve maintained all along that I don’t want to have to depend on any financial return for this project, because that would immediately compromise its validity (even if only from having to rush to publication). My patience ebbs and flows, but my vision has only come into sharper focus. I believe that when this thing is finally finished, I’ll be glad for having taken such a long time.

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