Monday, August 5, 2019

Idle hands!!!!!!!!!!!






I’m in a dilemma.

I’ve got nothing to write.

I’m on vacation this week and I am determined to NOT start something. To take a real and true vacation from writing…except…I don’t really want to.

So why should I?

I’m done with my WIP. It’s due in October. I’ve gone through it carefully and I guess I can go through it carefully again. And I will. But I want it to set a spell. Let my memory of what I wrote fade.

It’s weird but it’s easier to see mistakes if you step away for a month.

So it’s early August. The book is due in October, so I’ll let it be for a month then go through it again. Forget what I THINK I said and see what I really said. I’ve read lines in finished books before and I just stare at them, read them over a couple of times and think…what in the world did I mean by that?

I’m heavy with the running comedy, sarcasm, gags, stuff like that, so odd asides pop into my head and I include them. But sometimes I think I don’t type exactly what I meant to say in the aside. So then later I’ve got no idea of the joke I was trying to tell. (A good sign it’s not funny!)

So, that’s all to say I promise to make my book good for all readers. That’s always my goal.

But for a month…and part of September, too, because it won’t take the whole month to go through the book…and then I need to wait until…well, it’s complicated, but I will probably have another month or two before my next Bethany contract so honestly I have the better part of FOUR MONTH with nothing to write.

I’m so confused.

It’s like my head is hollow.

I had this same stretch last summer but I dug out the last books I had on my computer and spent time polishing and updating, then released five book independently.

That was fun.

But I don’t have any more books (there are two that, let’s face it, had best not be published, and believe me I’ve tried to figure out a way, but it ain’t happening.) and besides they’ve both been lost in computer crashes. (God in control!) So they’d have to be completely rewritten from nothing. And if I don’t think they’re a good story, why would I do that?

So if I want to publish something else, I need to WRITE IT!!!

I’ve got some ideas and I’ve even written an opening to one. But anyway, just to share a slice of writer’s life….my head is hollow.

There’s an echo in there.

What if I get out of my 1000 word a day habit?

There’s nothing anyone can do for me, honestly—well, maybe say a prayer. I just thought I’d talk about a weird twist in my very orchestrated life.

Any twists for anyone else? I’d love to hear about them. Does downtime help or hurt? Does it rekindle your love of writing or make you take up knitting instead to keep your hands busy?

I’m open to any advice anyone has about what I should do next!!!
Aiming for Love coming in October, available for pre-order now
Woman of Sunlight coming in March 2020, available for pre-order now

36 comments:

  1. I CANNOT even imagine being so far ahead of things that my October book would be done before August even got going. I'm still working on the one due at the end of this month!

    My advice, go for that far out idea that really calls to you. Something you love to read, but that you don't write.

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    1. Cate, this is good advice. I'm a big fan of Dystopian Middle Grade (see below), although not necessarily for me.

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    2. Kaybee a dystopian middle grade novel would probably be huge...if I could figure out how to write one!!!

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  2. Mary, I'm not worried that you won't find something to do. You always seem to have great ideas and I'm sure you will come up with something. I also don't think your 1,000 word a day habit will be lost. You will get back into it. I think it's fantastic that you are so far ahead of your deadline. Enjoy some time off! I bet the ideas will percolate when you aren't even realizing it.

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    1. I'm on vacation this week, Sandy, which is why I'm slow checking into Seekerville. I have been here since Saturday and haven't written a word. It's so WEIRD.

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  3. I have no doubts that you will find inspiration soon. A conversation, a look out if your window, a Bible verse... God will give you a nudge and the words will come. Until then, enjoy these early days of August. God bless!

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    1. Connie, I've got some ideas but I'm not exactly excited about any of them. But I do have a proposal for the next cowboy series that's catching my imagination. It's just a little early to pitch it to Bethany House.

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  4. Mary, I'm laughing that you said there's an echo in your empty head. hahaha I know you, and you'll have a story going in about 5 seconds flat. I don't think your head knows the meaning of VACATION. So try your best to vacate and relax. Then you'll have all kinds of new story fodder to fill your time with! :)

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    1. I'm trying to do this, Missy. And not feel guilty!!!

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  5. I like me some downtime to refresh and detox my brain from a constant story mode. I usually spend the extra time with family, cleaning, and trying my hand at other creative pursuits.

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    1. Me too, Samantha. Time to be a human being again.

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    2. Maybe I can hope for the detox thing, Samantha. I can try being human again, Kaybee. :)

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  6. Ummmm, D-O-W-N T-I-M-E...what is that again? As a mom of pre-driving teen boys, I haven't had much of this "down time" of which you speak. ;) Twists in my life have included therapy appointments for my son, who suffered a concussion last fall. Not what I expected this summer to hold. But, the big picture is I'm spending time with my boys and it's summer . . . at least for another 10 days. ;)

    I can't imagine you having an echo in your head right now, Mary. :) Out of curiosity, what helps you relax? :)

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    1. Jeanne, you accomplish a lot for someone still in active parenting. I appreciate your blogs about spiritual matters. Keep them coming; they help.

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    2. Awww, thank you, kaybee! You are an encouragement!

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    3. I'm sorry your son was hurt, Jeanne. And I remember how busy those days were, with all the kids growing up around me.
      Now, I have ZERO excuses for being too busy and life being hectic!!! :)

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  7. Hi Mary:

    Here's an idea that I'd like to see you work on.

    "Conversations with Mark Twain".

    You could ask him questions about some of his works like: "Do you think you could write a Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn book today or has the nature of childhood changed too much?"

    Then Twain could ask you about "Petticoat Ranch" since it takes place out west and during the same years that Twain often wrote about and it also featured 'adult like' children. You might also compare your "Bossy Bridegroom" to the reaction Twain experienced to his "Joan of Arc" book.

    I'd also like to know what Twain would think about doing a co-authored book with you about what would be important to write about in today's world. Of course it would be wonderful to get both your ideas on what makes fiction humorous.

    If you did this you might generate a million more ideas to open the floodgates of new writing opportunities.

    Vince

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    1. Vince, when you consider that Huck Finn is the next thing to BANNED these days, it does make you wonder. Still, a talent and wit like Twain, he'd find plenty to write about in this modern era.

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  8. Mary, this post is transparent and deeply relatable. I recently found myself in a similar situation. My debut comes out in September and it's signed, sealed and delivered. I had written the sequel, "Settler's Hope," before "Westward Hope" was accepted, because I heeded YOUR advice to "be ready" and Ruthy's advice to keep writing, although I never mastered 1K 1HR. But I did write and ended up with a story and a sequel accepted in fairly quick order, ALONG WITH a Christmas novella set in the same Oregon mountain hamlet. All of which have been accepted and I'm past the first edits. I'm researching the third "Western Dreams" novel, but it's taking time because it's a big, sprawling Western saga across several different states/territories and with actual historical figures dipping in and out. I want to get it right, so I'm not starting this one until most of the research is done. But I Could Not Stand not writing, so I looked for a novella to fill the gap and found it with two characters from the first books. Bonus 1: I can use settings and incidents from the earlier books, so I don't have to do much research; Bonus 2: I know a little bit about these characters, so I'm not coming in cold; and Bonus 3, it's a novella so I can be done with it by the time I'm ready to start the third full book. Some people do nonfiction projects between novels, but nonfiction is my already day job so that doesn't work for me. Novellas work, short stories work if you lean that way, or fooling around in a different genre or age group might work, like middle-grade or dystopian. Or middle-grade dystopian. Some people like journaling. You'll get it back, you always do.
    I'm late to the party today because my computer didn't load the Monday blog until almost noon. So it was still the weekend for me. As if...
    Kathy Bailey
    Making it work in New Hampshire with novellas

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    1. It wasn't your computer, Kathy. There was a problem with the scheduling, but we got it fixed.

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    2. Cate saved me, Kaybee. My post was there but it didn't load. Almost certainly MY FAULT. So you weren't late I WAS. IN fact, as a rule, when things go wrong it's usually best to blame me. Rule of thumb.

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    3. I love all the WORK you did to be ready when your chance came. YAY!!! And I can't wait for the book. SEPTEMBER! IT'S ALMOST HERE!!!

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  9. Bonus 4, I still have a book at the end of all this, even if it is a novella.

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    1. I love finding stories within stories.
      This whole string of comments from everyone is encouraging. It's making my imagination hum.

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  10. Interesting read, Mary! :) Downtime, for me, hurts. It has hurt for a number of years. I started writing when I was in 7th grade, wrote a novel in 9th grade, and didn't want to stop. I kept writing when I was supposed to be doing other stuff, which hurt the other stuff, of course. I wrote a novel when my kids were very little, sent it off to a publisher, and rewrote it at their request, with a final rejection. That sent me into a downward spiral because that book was me, not just some random words. Yeah, I needed a thick skin...which I still do not have. I've written on-and-off for the past 30 years. Mostly off, although my head would say "Hey, how about this for a scene for such-and-such project?" because I have so many projects waiting to be finished/written.

    My oldest sister has my latest project in hand/computer for editing. It's over 86,000 words. And just a few minutes ago I finished Chapter One of a new-ish project (it's "new-ish" because the original idea was a long story/novella written in college), but now I don't know where to go with it.

    All this to say that when I am not writing these days, I get restless. Make that RESTLESS. I recognize the symptoms because I used to get like this; if I wasn't writing, I would get fidgety and agitated. That was tough when our kids were growing up. But we're empty nesters now, and I don't have a paying outside job (I do a ton of stuff for our church though, usually here at home).

    Thankfully I have a very understanding husband! The house can look like a tornado came through about ten times, supper can be late, laundry can back up...but he says if I am doing something that makes me happy, he's fine with it.

    BTW, if I don't write, I eat. And I DO. NOT. NEED. TO. EAT. Well, except for staying alive...

    I've also noticed that more ideas are trying to crowd my head. Maybe *I* need a "hollow head"...

    ;-)

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    1. To funny, Melanie, about the eating. I eat when I'm nervous. Okay, I eat when I'm not nervous too!

      Loved your word "restless" for that time between stories. I'm mentally brainstorming a new idea that has been perking much too long, yet it still hasn't gelled. So I'm restless!

      Seems Mary is restless too. She wants to sit back and enter into the family vaca without writing, but...

      I wonder if she could go an entire month without writing. I doubt it! :)

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    2. Melanie, when you say that story was YOU and it really hurt, what jumps to my mind is, it's probably a GREAT story, but you need to tell it better. As you learn the craft and gain the skills, you'll do a better job of telling that special story.

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    3. Mary, to be honest, I wrote that book 30 years ago! Long before I was saved, for one thing. ;-) It will become an updated Christian romance, part of a series, using the same hero and heroine and one big idea from it, but otherwise, it will be a whole lot different. And, yes, I think I will be able to tell the story much better now. :)

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    4. That sounds great, Melanie! Great way to update the story!!!

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  11. What should you do? Is that really a question, Connealy? You should write more indies!!!!!! I loved the Garrison series! :)

    Enjoy your vacation! Sorry we missed each other in MN this year.

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  12. I am not a typical author in that I have never had to write to a deadline. I have about six manuscripts on my computer now, waiting for edits and submission. But I can tell you down time is great for me. I can let ideas stew and simmer while I deal with being a mommy to two preschoolers as well as a crafter who always has a project going on. And yes, crafting in other ways helps me with being creative in my writing. Good luck on allowing your fingers to have a rest from writing for a while, Mary. Just remember, even God said we need to be still at times. :-)

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  13. First, make sure that you have a wonderful and memorable vacation. Prayers for you heading your way. When I get like this with my quilting, I step away and pray about it. God will eventually fill in the details for me so I can go back and start work in earnest again. I know that there are times that I get like this because I need to focus on something else at the time. So I will clean the house extra and I usually find things that I have neglected too long or need attention now. Or I will temporarily go to another craft project. I also find that when I dont obsess about it God will lead my thinking to positive pastures and I become more productive. Best of luck. This may just be that God wants you to focus elsewhere right now. Whatever it is, I guess my advise is pray. Hugs

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  14. This post was so interesting to me--I love to hear how other writers' processes work--probably because it's so reassuring to know that we all have the same struggles! I'm like you--I need to set aside a story for a while and then read it with fresh eyes. It's amazing how things leap out at you then--things that were so invisible when you were in the thick of it! Hope you enjoy your months of not-so-busy, and that when those deadlines heat back up, you're ready and energized!!

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  15. Seems like it can be feast or famine in the writing life, can't it? Either you're buried in contracts and deadlines, or...crickets.

    Take a bit of time to refresh. Read. New ideas always come to you when you read other stories and history books.

    Pretty soon you'll be up to your eyeballs in ideas and things to write. :)

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  16. Hi Mary,

    I hope you are having a nice vacation! Use your 1000 words a day to write something different than your chosen genre, maybe a secret baby story or a regency. I know you like to read those. It would be fun....

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