Friday, June 12, 2015

My #SparkNA Adventure: Chasing Time

A picture I took from Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor (one of the waterfalls in my novella, Chasing Waterfalls)

First of all, what is #SparkNA? Read about it here, from Mina V. Esguerra's website. So, onto my adventure.

When I signed up for the class, I didn't realize what I had gotten myself into. You see, I signed up for an online accounting class and got a new job all around the same time. I wanted everything to work. That was how I realized that I could literally make the time if the stakes were high enough. My mini pep talk to myself: No complaints. You got yourself into this; you finish all of your commitments.

One June 6 (last day of the #SparkNA class), Mina asked us: 1) what worked, 2) what didn't, 3) what's next. For me, what worked was the outline, which was a prerequisite at the start of the class. If I did not have an outline, I would have floundered. Some writers prefer not having an outline at all. However, given the volume of work I had given myself, it was an absolute necessity for me. I have a vague memory of May 2015. It was a haze of deadlines and hard work. It reminds me of the time I was breastfeeding my first child. I was committed to it. That meant I had to pump my breast milk 2-3 times a day during work days. At the time, I was working at a telco (read: dynamic business, crazy work schedule). But somehow I managed to do it (mostly because my boss understood how much it meant to me). But how I did it? I don't remember. I just stuck to the schedule, whatever happened. I could pump my milk anywhere! So, that was what happened last May. I was mostly sleep deprived.

What didn't work was the deadly rush. I wanted my cake and I wanted to eat it, too. Hahaha! I just kept going and going. I have to say that this links back to a second element of what worked: a support group. Beta readers are blessings from heaven. My wonderful friends, Therese, Ines and Liana, all editors, were such a big help during the review phase. Ines was also working on her own #SparkNA novella, mind you. So, I was overwhelmed with gratitude when she agreed to read my work and give me very helpful feedback. I couldn't have finished my manuscript without my beta readers' invaluable support. A big, heartfelt thank you to Therese, Ines, and Liana!

What's next? Apart from waiting for word from Spark Publishing/ Anvil Publishing... I want to publish my novella, Chasing Waterfalls, online, on as many digital distribution platforms as possible. But yes, I'll wait, of course, for the print opportunity. Fingers crossed.

On May 30, 2015, I hit the "send" button and submitted my 28K-word novella to Mina with my query letter to the editors of Spark Publishing. On June 1, 2015, I started at a new job. On June 9, 2015, I received my verified certificate for my Introduction to Financial Accounting Class. It was all possible.

What did I learn from all of this? Somehow, life imitated art. Our challenge for #SparkNA was "to be brave." In particular, this was the instruction from Mina's email: "You don't have to say it in the book, but when we read it, we must be able to describe your MC to our friends as BRAVE." Well, what is bravery? What is courage? One of the dictionary definitions I came across was: the ability to do something that frightens you. Oh boy. That was what happened between April and May. The other half of the equation is: WHY? As I said earlier: it depends on the stakes. For me, the stakes were all high for the things I wanted: to write; to develop; to learn. I realized that time really is the most precious resource. It's even more valuable than money (you can always make more money...but you cannot produce more time...we are all equally given 24 hours a day and every day is a reset). At the beginning of the class I thought I would be chasing time. But it didn't turn out that way. I ended up creatively carving out niches of time. It was an art.

Thank you, Mina, for putting together the class (and for making more classes available! I absolutely love the structure of your classes!). With #SparkNA, I pushed myself like I've never pushed myself before. It was all worth it.

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