Here's what's happened since last I posted.
A number of people agreed to read the proof of my novel, and every one of them provided a ton of valuable feedback.
This resulted in another pretty major revision, even though I had promised myself I wouldn't do that. I first spent a few days starting in on an actual rewrite, which would have been a massive effort, but then came to my senses and decided to just clean up a few things that people pointed out that weren't too hard to fix: confusion around the purpose of the eviscerated bear in chapter 3? scened deleted; a few too many f-bombs? okay, sure, we can tone that down; nobody sits down and monologues for three pages in order to share the life story of a recently deceased character? yeah, I guess I can break that up a bit; and so on ...
Then the other big change of plans happened. One of my readers made an awfully compelling case for giving traditional publishing a shot before going straight to the presses. This involves scouring directories of agents for any that might be interested in this book, and then querying each of them with a customized letter and excerpts from the book. I just finished that part yesterday, so now I wait to see if any are interested. If they are, I send them the full manuscript and then wait again, possibly for months, to see if they're still interested after they read it. If they are, then they start looking for interested publishers. If they can find one then I work with the editor at that publisher to prepare the book for publication.
Obviously, this is going to take a while.
So, in the meantime, I'm going to keep writing. I've drafted a fantasy novel, owe my kids another chapter book, and have a great idea for a Travis McGee-style action/mystery novel.
However, the Sabbatical Support Fund is running low, so I'm also starting to think about a day job. I tell myself that this is not tragic, nor is it a surprise—I always knew I wouldn't have enough time to make a living at this. It is a little jarring though. I wrote the first resume I've written since college (avoiding the surprisingly strong urge to use the same Word template that I used then) and finally created a LinkedIn account. Now I'm faced with a lot of questions related to what exactly I want to do with my experience and where we want to live.
In any case, one thing that I'm really excited about is the fact that I feel like I learned enough about the process of writing to continue on with it—even if only on nights and weekends. And, of course, this time away from traditional work has been every bit as wonderful as you'd imagine. I just can't believe it's gone by so fast.