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Fiction Friday – Shiny New Ideas

  • April 4, 2011

I’m feeling a bit out of sorts this week. Now that my manuscript is complete, and I’ve started dipping my toe in the query pool, I don’t know what to do with myself.

After getting up at 5:00 a.m. for the last year, not having to get up and write feels really weird. I’m still getting up early, but now I’m just dinking around on Twitter and reading blogs before I head off to work.

A couple months ago, when I was still polishing the manuscript, Dave said, “You’re not going to write another book are you?”

“Oh God no,” I said. “I want my life back. I need to catch up on sleep. Start exercising again. Read a million books on my Kindle.”

But here’s the thing. Now that I’m not writing, I don’t know what to do with myself. And I want to write another book. Just thinking about writing again makes some of these angsty feelings go away.

So many people don’t finish their first book. They get to the hard part, which – at least for me anyway – is the revision stage, and they get a Shiny New Idea, with Shiny New Characters. And pounding out a first draft with this new idea, and these new people sounds like a hell of a lot more fun than ripping apart the current manuscript and fixing everything that’s wrong with it. I never had the urge to abandon my manuscript, though, for two reasons: I was going to finish what I started, dammit, and I didn’t have any Shiny New Ideas. And that worried me for a while. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and you can’t copyright them, but I was sorta wondering why I wasn’t having any. It could have been that I was so immersed in my current manuscript that the part of my brain that would have handled those new ideas was blocked off. At least I think that’s what happened because the minute I started querying – you know, all of one week ago – those old characters left my mind and Shiny New Ones started flooding my head. I now have about 37 post-it notes stuck all over the place and I opened up a word doc that I titled New Book Notes.

So Dave? DAVE? Are you reading this blog post? I don’t think you are so I’m going to admit something.

I was fibbing.

I fibbed.

I’m a big giant fibber.

Common advice for writers is that the best way to get your mind off the agonizing query process is to start writing something else. Put your manuscript out there, and query widely, but start focusing on a new project and just write.

So I’m going to. My contract position ends at the end of next month, and I’ll be home with the offspring all summer. This will be a good time to start writing the first draft of my next book. I want to experiment with point of view and an expanded number of main characters. This book will require quite a bit of research and I’ve already started on that.

Regardless of what happens with book #1 (and sadly, as a debut author whose manuscript will languish in slush piles all summer long, the odds of getting an agent are pretty slim), it’s the writing that I really enjoy. Don’t get me wrong – rejections will hurt, but that’s all part of the path to publication and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Some of you may remember the psychic party I hosted a while back. Dixie is a psychic who has done several readings for me. It’s always been just for fun (I don’t have her on, like, speed dial or anything), but some of the things she’s told me over the years have been right on the money. Anyway, my friend Bobbi and I went to see Dixie for private readings about eleven years ago. As she was talking to me, she said she thought it would be a good idea if I wrote a book someday (and she didn’t know I liked to write so when she said it I sat up a little straighter). She didn’t say anything about what would happen if I did write a book (and I wouldn’t want to know anyway), but she did say, “I just think when the kids get a little older, you’ll want something just for you.” I thought what she told me was pretty cool and then I forgot all about it.

A few months ago, when I was really in the thick of revising and polishing, Dave and the offspring were giving me a hard time – no one likes it when mom is busy, at least in my house. Dave has always been supportive of my writing time, and I’ve always been careful to make sure it balances out with whatever he wants to do (and don’t forget Matthew and Lauren because Dave and I put them before any needs of our own, as we should). But I was having a bad day, and all I really wanted to do was open my laptop and get lost in some writing. I *might* also have had a bit of PMS. But anyway, I said something about being tired and then Dave said something about me not getting enough sleep, and then I said something about how important the book was to me, and he said some more things, and blah, blah, blah, and then I yelled, “I just want something for me!” And then I went, “OMG.” Because I had forgotten what Dixie had said until the words came flying out of my mouth.

Maybe I sound totally selfish, but now that the kids are older I don’t feel like I need to spoon-feed everything to everyone in this house (Dave included). And I get up at the ass-crack of dawn to write so that I can minimize (as much as I can) taking time away from my family. I think that it’s easy for moms to put things they want on the back-burner sometimes, and I’m definitely guilty of that. I’ve spent almost twelve years either as a SAHM, or working a contract/temporary job so that I can be home when the kids need me, and I’m eternally grateful that I can do that.

But Dixie was right.

I do want something for me.

P.S. I swear to God I still have a sense of humor.

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