This post is by Joe Stephens
I didn’t have time to write this. I’m just too busy. I’m behind on grading papers, I need to make up a test, there’s a book for me to review sitting next to me shouting for attention, I haven’t written a book review for the online magazine that was expecting it in AUGUST, I should be doing more to publicize my soon-to-be-launched new book, and I haven’t written a word on the next book in over a week.
Wow. I nearly hyperventilated just reading that last paragraph. At times like this, I wonder how I’ll ever get it all done. And yet, as I look back at the many times I’ve found myself in this position, I realize that I did, indeed, get caught up each time. Yes, sometimes deadlines got pushed back or projects got scaled down or even jettisoned, but everything worked out. I just have to breathe and keep reminding myself of that.
One thing that helps me maintain my sanity in these situations is reminding myself that balance doesn’t mean all things equal all the time. Sometimes certain things just need to take priority and other things, while still important, can wait. The reality is that I have a little time before my next work in progress needs to be finished. I have a book coming out October 1 and a novella coming the next month, so I don’t see publishing Shalan 4 until at least February. So taking a week off to do things that are more pressing is not the worst sin. But I have to make sure that the urgent doesn’t replace the important. And I also need to remember that just because something seems urgent doesn’t mean it’s actually important. If it doesn’t involve a commitment I’ve already made to someone else and it’s not part of the small group of projects I consider priorities in my life, maybe I can just say no.
Another thing I need to remind myself is that I am surrounded by people who are kind and forgiving. Yesterday I came clean to my students and just told them that I’m struggling to keep up with grading their papers but that I was working at it and would be finished just as soon as humanly possible. They were more than kind. I could see by the looks on their faces that, not only did they understand but they related. My seniors, many of whom have jobs, play sports, and are in multiple other AP courses, no doubt feel what I’m feeling right now. That just-on-the-edge-of-panic feeling of wondering which will come first between getting finished and just simply breaking down and curling up in a ball under a blanket somewhere.
Hey, look at that–I finished this post. And with enough spare time to finish a cold cup of coffee before I jump in the shower and rush to school. Maybe I will make it.
Joe Stephens is a teacher at Parkersburg High School. He is also the author of Harsh Prey and Kisses and Lies, both of which are available in paperback and Kindle formats. The paperback may be purchased from
Amazon, from J & M Used Book Store in Parkersburg, and from the author’s trunk.
Take a look at Harsh Prey on Amazon
Take a look at Kisses and Lies on Amazon
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Check out joe’s website.