Friday, May 13, 2011

Help Gigi Decide How to Seize the Day (Take Two)

Blogger ate this original post along with its comments when it went down on Thursday, so here's a recreation.

Exciting news: Beginning this summer, I'll be taking a part-time sabbatical at my job to work 28 hours a week for a whole year! The question is... What do I do with all of my new free time? Now that the day is quickly approaching, I don't know which projects to focus on.

Below are some of my ideas. Any arguments as to why I should focus on one over another would be greatly appreciated! I can do more than one of these, but I can't do everything.

(Note: I already arrange my schedule so that I can already spend 10 hours per week writing without giving up my nights and weekends with friends and family. Thus, I'm not going to simply say I'll "write more," because I already feel like I can handle one book a year in my Jaya Jones mystery series after kicking things off with an intensive NaNoWriMo draft.)

1.  Read the John Dickson Carr canon. There's never enough time to read everything I hope to read. The classics don't make it to the top of my reading list nearly often enough -- and by "classics," of course I mean mysteries from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

John Dickson Carr, who wrote brilliant impossible-crime mysteries, is my favorite author of that era. He wrote 70 novels, but I've read only 30 of them so far. Many of his books are out of print, so it's a challenge to track them down, but I've been working on it and wanting to do more. His books also have gorgeous pulpy covers (like the one shown here with Dorian the gargoyle), so I love collecting the these books for their cover art as well. I'm thinking I could find and read one of his books per week in addition to my usual pile of books, perhaps also posting a photo of the cover with some thoughts over at Gargoyle Girl.

2. Try my hand at book cover design. Since I'm a graphic designer and love book covers, perhaps I should try to break into doing book cover design.

The challenge? I have no idea how that side of the publishing industry works. I took at book cover design class in art school (photos of my class projects at right) so I know the creative side, but that's it. So this is an idea that has zero basis in reality, but is a daydream about another way I'd love to be involved in the book world.

3. Rewrite the Young Adult mystery book I drafted last year. My agent and a very wise critique partner insist that this book, DEVIL'S CREEK, needs a major rewrite if it's ever to see the light of day -- as in splitting the book into a trilogy so it has depth and focus and isn't so damn complex. I'll need a whole lot of help if I'm going to do it. Is this massive amount of work worth it? I'm not sure.

4. Take French classes.I've always been good at seizing travel opportunities that arise, but I've never been good at mastering foreign languages. I studied French in high school, so with some work I could get to the point where I could converse with people. I know it's possible to get by in a country without the language, but I feel like I'm so close to being able to do it right.

5. Do more with photography. I started the Gargoyle Girl Blog for my New Year's Resolution as an incentive to organize the thousands of negatives and digital files I've shot over the years -- the majority of them gargoyle and other mysterious photos. I've got a lot more work to do to tackle my negatives.

I've also toyed with the idea of selling my gargoyle photos at istockphoto, or maybe even selling fine art prints through Etsy. But the reason I've got a day job as a designer, rather than working as a freelancer, is because I suck at business. Etsy sure is tempting, though...

6. Write a steampunk novel. I don't have a fully formed idea here, and maybe I'm just inspired by reading Gail Carriger's very cool Parasol Protectorate series right now (Alexia reminds me of a supernatural version of Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody).

What I've got is an idea of a kick-ass female alchemist who popped into my head while I was writing a short story. Bethany Faust can solve impossible-seeming crimes that end up having rational explanations. She looks a bit like Switch in The Matrix, she's got a pet gargoyle -- and the imagery surrounding her in my head is very steampunk.

7. Take art classes. I miss creating random art like the silkscreen print at left. My screens are currently gathering dust in the garage. I meant to set up a messy art table in the garage when we moved into our new house in late 2009, but it never happened. Now it's already two years later.

Figuring out how to seize the day is proving to be tougher than I thought!



Supriya Savkoor said...

Congrats on this great opportunity, Gigi, and how great that you are filled with so many ideas. Still, your choice seems clear to me. Sounds like your passion lies in creating new work so go with the book cover design (I love those samples!), steampunk, art, and photography. You could even meld all these ideas into one project (design the cover for your steampunk book and fill it with your own writing, art, and photography). I'm thinking learning French and starting a new business can wait. Even the revising. And as for reading Carr's canon, you can still do that, though not necessarily a book a week. You're a creator--go create! Good luck, and keep us posted!

Rachael Herron said...

I love the writing another book idea, myself. Sure you can handle one Jaya a year on the schedule you have, but this would give you a WHOLE 'NOTHER BOOK! A new one! And the photography: that feeds a different part of your soul.
Just my $.02, of course. :)

Gigi Pandian said...

Thanks, Supriya and Rachael. Very helpful, though I still can't quite make up my mind! And thanks to everyone who responded on Thursday before Blogger exploded and ate your replies: Sophie, Juliet, LGC, Martha, Daisy, and Shannon -- and sorry if I missed any other comments before the crash!

Mysti said...

I vote for playing with book covers, so I can be your first customer. However, for *you* I'd say pick 1 from column A and 2 from column B.

Let us know how it goes! I'd love to work only 28 hours a week, even if it meant moving to a cheaper place, I think. The husband and cats, not so much :)

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