Guest contributor Lisa Romeo joins us today for the first time. Lisa shares her take on the day-in-a-life-of-a-writer post. If you think you’re busy, wait until you read what she’s managing at one time and how she juggles it all!
A Long, Satisfying Day of an Author-Editor-MFA Mentor
By Lisa Romeo
I’m writing this on a Wednesday night after completing an online meeting with my students in Thesis II, the capstone in the Bay Path University (online) MFA. I was about to call it a day when an email arrived with an essay acceptance, so I printed the contract and withdrew the piece from other places I’d submitted it.
Bet let’s back up. Like most days, today I toggled between roles: writer, teacher, editor, coach. I was at my computer by 8am (in PJs) and began with MFA tasks: checking for student interactions, noting questions, printing out two submissions. For each student, I get four 20-page batches of writing during the semester, plus 80 pages of revisions, so keeping up with reading is crucial.
Next, I prepped our evening session: discussion topics on craft, revision, assigned reading, and upcoming assignments. I then wrote and pre-scheduled my weekend MFA Mentor Message, a combination of reminders, writing advice, and pep talk. That done, I tracked down books on a topic one student was struggling to write about, pulled together resources on a challenging craft issue for another, added my own notes, and sent that all off.
Time for a break. I read some of the leftover Sunday New York Times while having cereal, then dove into launch plans for my book, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love after Loss, to be published by University of Nevada Press on May 1. Today that meant follow-up with bookstores and libraries to confirm appearances and discuss programming; a phone call with the book’s publicist; then emails with the publisher about shipping books to events a week early. Next, I applied to book festivals for late 2018 and 2019, and to three reading series, and wrote and submitted two sets of answers to editors’ interview questions. That filled several hours—time that hopefully will spur sales, though you never know. Still, that’s an author’s job.
Switching gears, I head to a cafe (my “second office”) for a lunch meeting with a client who has written a memoir draft and wants some “big-picture” feedback. I’m worried how I’ll manage with book launch only weeks away. Fortunately, a longer turn-around time fits her schedule.
Back home I open an essay on my computer from a client, which I’d already printed out, read, and made notes on. Now I put feedback comments and edits in the electronic document and return it. Later tonight this coaching client will report if she wrote 500 words today—the productivity and accountability goals we set.
My phone dings, reminding me of a deadline. The piece was done yesterday, but I spot and fix a tiny typo and hit send. Almost simultaneously, a rejection arrives from a mainstream venue I’m determined to crack. I make a note to read over the essay later tonight, see if it needs tweaking, then submit it somewhere else tomorrow.
To give my brain a breather, I get out of the office, toss in laundry, fiddle around on Facebook and Instagram, and take two new book photos for social media.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that while I’ve dealt with some writing business, the work day is waning and I haven’t gotten any fresh writing done. This is the conundrum, always. Other days though, the routine reverses: I begin with writing, then flip to teaching and other tasks. But not today.
After dinner (my husband made grilled salmon, roasted potatoes, green beans), I head back upstairs, initiate the online conference, and while awaiting the students, make tomorrow’s list. I’m working on two essays I’m hoping will get published around the same time my book launches. So, I allot a few hours for that at the start of the day, followed by reading student pages, and final edits on this guest post before sending it off.
Now though, it’s time for Call the Midwife, some needlepoint, and Girl Scout cookies.
Lisa Romeo’s first book is Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love after Loss, (forthcoming from University of Nevada Press, May 1, 2018). Her short work is listed in Best American Essays 2016, and published in many popular and literary venues, including the New York Times, O The Oprah Magazine, Longreads, Brain Child, Inside Jersey, Brevity, and Hippocampus. Lisa teaches with Bay Path University’s MFA program. A former equestrian journalist and public relations specialist, she completed an MFA degree at Stonecoast (University of Southern Maine) and is the recipient of several grants and awards. Lisa lives in northern New Jersey with her husband and sons. Visit Lisa Romeo’s blog, follow her on Twitter @LisaRomeo, like her Facebook author page, and find her on Instagram @LisaRomeoWriter.