This article is part of Kate Mitchell’s blog tour to promote her debut novel. Kate is a student at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Her first novel, Aureole, has just been published. Here she talks about the pressures and everyday realities of being both a student and a new author. This article is part of Kate’s blog tour for Aureole. More details can be found on her website, listed at the end of the article.
My Many Roles
It’s a pretty common part of society now for the average person to be busy almost all the time. Why have one commitment when you can have two, three, or four? High school students feel the stress of managing classes, sports, and clubs. College students try to juggle all of the same issues, but often with greater intensity. And then, out in the real world, there’s the whole deal with adjusting to employment, creating a life in a new city, etc. Generally, the rule of thumb is to overbook.
I, for one, am not exempt from that. Who am I? I’m Kate Mitchell, author of the new realistic fiction novel Aureole, future teacher, and senior at Vanderbilt University.
I think you can get an idea of the craziness of my life just from those three titles. I take classes for over 10 hours a week, I work as a student teacher for 5 hours a week, I spend approximately 30 hours a week doing homework, and I work doing “author stuff” for at least 10 hours a week. If all of this counted as one job, I would be working 55 hours a week. That’s a lot.
But, like I said, it’s really not all that unusual any more to be that busy. Some college students spend that much time working at offices as well as doing schoolwork. Some are heavily involved in charity work, a sport, or a Greek organization. It depends. I just choose to split my time between “author stuff” and school.
When I wrote Aureole, I lucked out, because I started it and wrote the first draft before I went to college. I say that I lucked out because I’m not sure that I would have had enough time to write it once I got here. As it was, I barely had enough time in high school. I wrote about a third of Aureole during National Novel Writing Month in 2008, and then finished it that spring. Now, if you count back the years, you’ll realize that I wrote around 50,000 words in the spring of 2009, which was my Senior Spring. You know what I’m talking about – I was waiting to find out if I got into college, but the stressful semesters of high school were over, so what better time to finish my novel?
It got busier when I decided three years later to really edit and finish Aureole. This was this past winter, and it was tough juggling everything. The amount of sleep I got decreased, and the amount of time I spent working increased. But I was okay, because I loved it. If you really love doing something, it doesn’t feel like work.
What with editing and publishing, my life started to get increasingly cluttered. The desktop on my computer filled up with more than just school assignments, and I had to become hyper organized on my computer. For example, here is what my desktop looks like now. Notice how very little of those folders and items belong to school, even though I spend a lot of time doing that work.
My life very quickly became about Aureole – and everything that went along with that – as much as it was about school. This trend continued when I focused on the publishing aspect as much as editing. And, of course, this all happened as the semester got more and more intense. I literally read 400 pages and wrote at least 2 papers a week for school, and then worked on getting Aureole published.
It was a lot, but it was doable. You don’t get into Vanderbilt and do well at Vanderbilt without being able to handle a lot of work.
With everything going on, the constant has been a packed schedule. I’m busy, busy, busy, and I always have been. At the same time, though, I admit that my life has definitely changed, and it’s not like the average university student’s. I don’t do as many extra-curricular activities now, and one of the reasons behind that is I have other things I need to be doing. I get up about an hour or two earlier than most college students, even on the weekends, so that I have enough time to do everything that I need to. My Internet time rests heavily on book blogs, research, and social media for Aureole. My computer time focuses on writing blog posts, writing my new novel, and keeping up with what’s going on in the book world. I try to read book reviews when possible in order to get an idea of what readers do and don’t like in modern literature. When I read books, I look for examples of craft that I want to incorporate into my own writing. Even if I’m not physically working, I’m constantly mentally working. That’s definitely a new thing.
And, you know, it’s okay with me. I know that my life will continue to be full of author work, which I love. I’m in the fall semester of my senior year, and in the spring I will be student teaching. Ideally, next fall I will be an employed teacher. But, throughout it, all writing will be prevalent. Writing, promoting, social media presence, etc. It’s as much a part of my life now as my family is. It will always be there, and I will be working. It’s a little hard right now while I work on an extremely stressful and busy school year and promoting my first novel, but it’s all going to be okay.
And you know why it’s going to be okay? Because I’m organized almost to a fault. As proof, I offer you this picture of the inside of my planner. Lists, Post-Its, plans, and more. I’ve got it covered.
My life is crazy. I’m trying to promote my already published novel, Aureole, while working on my novel. And also while trying to finish my last year of university. And see my friends. And volunteer. And more, and more.
You get the picture. But, then again, you’re probably living a little like this, too.
Aureole is available on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback at http://amzn.to/N2eEOu. Kate Mitchell and be found online at http://kmitchellauthor.com and http://katethealmostgreat.blogspot.com, on Twitter @kmitchellauthor, and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.