Soooo, let’s see. Before going to Greece last year, I had a vague idea of a novel I wanted to write, and I had a rough draft of the first section. While I was in Greece, I sat down (almost) every day and worked on it, and figured out where I wanted it to go and who the characters were and what format it would take. There was a lot of trial and error and trashed pages, but when I flew back to Canada in September, I felt okay about the whole thing. Still, I didn’t want to show it to anyone. The thought of even my most trusted first readers reading it embarrassed me and I kept it to myself. Anyway, back at home Bats or Swallows came out, and I started working full time again, and there was just general life getting in the way of things. I also knew the book needed some breathing room, so I let it go for awhile. Then, I started the QWF mentorship, and it gave me a push to pick over the draft again. Between January and May, I worked on the entire thing slowly and steadily, lots of weekend afternoons at my kitchen table, some lunch hours at the food court with print outs of chapters,evenings in bed with the laptop. I would meet up with my mentor every two weeks or so and hand over clumps of pages and the first time I did this I had to sheepishly have a drink before I could stand talking or hearing anything about it. And basically he told me: keep going. So I did. Last week I did a reading as part of the program, stood up on a stage in a dark room and read the very first chapter to a group of people. It felt nice. (The fact that my mentor quotes Greil Marcus in that linked post shows that I was paired up with someone on the same wavelength too.) I’ve also slowly started sending sections to my writer friends. After this weekend when I type up my final adjustments to the third part, I can’t think of anything else to do except let it sit again so that I can get some distance, gain some perspective.
And I guess that’s the hard part. I’ve never worked on one thing for such a sustained period of time and what I’ve realized is how much I’ve enjoyed focusing on a single project. Writing is hard and solitary and boring, but the only reason why anyone keeps at it is because along with all those terrible things, it’s also fun. Really! But I know not to overstay my welcome.
So what do I do in the meantime? I’m not sure. I haven’t written a short story in a long, long time. I have the wisps of another novel at the back of my head, but I’m not ready to launch into something like that right away. Recently I’ve been actively looking for advice, asking people for opinions on what I should do next, or finding out what they’ve done to see if it’s something I should do too. There’s a business-y side I should start considering. I don’t know, it’s kind of murky.
At least, though, it’s summer. Humid and bright and I’m going on vacation in little more than a week and I have so many books to read. And mostly I feel good. I know, now, that I want people to read this thing I’ve written and I don’t feel the urge to pour myself a drink at the thought of this happening. So, I’m sending vibes out into the universe, and eventually I’ll do more tangible things too. We’ll see where it goes.