August 14, 2017 by Gregory Josephs
At last, I’ve come up for air. Oh, how sweet it tastes! I’ve felt my lungs burning—bursting with the spent carbon dioxide of a summer of toil—and here, finally, is my grand exhale. And as I float here on the other side of my recent travails, I know this long, hypoxic journey was worth it. It didn’t go exactly as I’d planned, but sometimes we just have to hold our breath and trust we’ll make it through.
In competitive swimming, it is often faster to move beneath the water than on its surface. To this end, off each wall, a swimmer can kick underwater for fifteen continuous yards without being disqualified. In a twenty-five yard pool, that means a swimmer with enough breath control needs only swim ten yards of each length. The swimmer that can do this in a race is always at a distinct advantage, and expends a lot less energy than those thrashing at the surface the entire way. Just ask Michael Phelps to show you his medal collection. Then ask him how much of a race he spends swimming on the surface. . .
Of course, I wasn’t in a race this summer. Not really. Still, I realized early on the best way to the place I’m at right now was through. So, if you’re wondering what all this is about—
I’ve just completed a twelfth season as Aquatics Director of a summer day camp. I love it and always have (always will) but I’ve never loved the thirteen-hour days that come alongside. It’s taxing, mentally and physically. I’m out of the house from 7am until 10pm everyday. All the little things that I do around our home fall to my husband to take care of (which he does graciously). The cats begin to look at me as though I’m a stranger, and the weeds in the garden rejoice at my absence as they overrun everything. Then, the few precious hours I have remaining in a day must be devoted to preparing meals for the next day, and sleeping.
That doesn’t leave time for anything else. Definitely not writing, right?
That was especially difficult. At the beginning of camp season, this blog was starting to take off. My novel came back from the editor and there was so much to do to prepare it for publication this fall. I thought I’ll be able to fit writing in. Look, I’m invincible. I can do it!
The goal was to blog once a week, rather than the usual twice. Oh, and Twitter! Let’s not forget about platform building! Yeah, right. Maybe if there were twenty-eight hours in a day!
My lovely author friend Marcus Lopés knows something about this, and wrote a nice piece about how trying to do it all can kill.
It didn’t take long for me to realize I needed to prioritize. The book came first. During breaks at work, and in the few minutes before bed, I combed through my editor’s revisions. I chewed up and reimagined the remaining awkward sentences. I seasoned turns of phrase with last minute commas and picked out a host of others. On the bus in the early morning and late at night, I read and reread. Then in the last weeks of my summer season I formatted and reformatted, agonizing over fonts and styles.
It came together. I ordered a cover.
Meanwhile, Suzy finally figured out the Elementary Backstroke, and I explained to Jimmy’s mom that he can’t move to Level 5 until he can dolphin kick without letting his ankles separate. I ordered groceries online and made a pot of pasta at midnight to last the week.
I wanted desperately to breathe—to come up for air on one of my long, luxurious mornings of coffee and cats and gardens and blogs. But a break in the rhythm wasn’t in the cards. I could’ve taken a sick day on a Wednesday—tasted the freedom of the autumn that stretches out in front of me—but that would’ve just become a lot of thrashing at the surface; it would’ve been so much harder to submerge again.
So I held me breath, and as I neared the end it felt—
Now I’ve broken the surface, and all the air in the world is mine. The book is essentially done. The summer camp is behind me. I can exist again at my own leisure.
So hello again. The water is fine.
I’m thrilled beyond belief that I’ll be able to share my novel with you soon. Once the cover is completed, I’ll have a release date for sometime next month. Stay tuned for news as early as later this week.
But in the meantime, tell me your thoughts! How have you been? Do you have a busy time of year that causes everything else to be put on hold? How do you manage what you need to do and what you want to do? Oh, and just for fun, how long can you hold your breath?
Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks as always for reading. More soon!