About midway through last summer, after having finished re-reading the 6th and 7th Harry Potter books in preparation for the movie's release, I had a revelatory experience: instead of simply waiting for another burst of inspiration, I should focus my writing efforts on re-penning and improving the novel I had already written. So far, I have only managed a new title, a revised dedication, a new author's note, and seven pages of new material (chapter one). It's slow going. However, I have gotten a fair amount of pleasure out of the experience. I am enjoying seeing the book that I had envisioned begin to truly take shape-- no more misplaced modifiers or awkward sentences or rampant adverbs. The story itself is becoming richer, deeper. And with each minute I spend working on its tangles and blemishes, I feel myself becoming richer and deeper as well.
I've spent considerable time this past year thinking about my academic career-- too much time, I believe. In focusing all of my attention on graduate school, trying not to fall behind in Latin, and working through the difficulties of starting a new life, I have inadvertently rearranged my priorities. Because, as foolish as I know this sounds, academia is a fall-back plan to my true (and even less attainable) career goal of being an author. . . namely, a children's author (which is even less attainable than being pretty much any other kind of author). It's like a business degree in case you don't become the next Peyton Manning or something.
I have discovered that when I make my writing my first priority, it brings my grades up as well. I can't figure it out.
But I'm not going to argue with it.