Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Time-off from Writing

Tuesdays with Amy

Conventional wisdom suggests that once a writer finishes a book, s/he must immediately start writing the next. It’s excellent advice when one considers the angst a writer can succumb to when that first manuscript is sent off to agents and then to editors. Move forward toward a renewed goal; have another project ready to present if an editor bites; immerse yourself in a new world, with fresh characters, create hope once again.

Solid advice I give my own writer friends, but, unfortunately, cannot take myself. I’ve just finished a manuscript and I’m eager to start the next. Truly, I am. The problem is I need time to research my topic. I need to know the specifics of my protagonist’s life: the sounds she would awaken to each morning, the fauna that surrounds her home, scents that pervade her village. I have to know the routine specific to her and her culture. Before I can begin to build a world around her, I need to lay the basic structure of her life.

All the while, she whispers to me, becoming my most intimate friend. Her voice is distinctive, so utterly different from the protagonist in my first book. She’s already told me how her story starts and ends. It will be my job to discover the places in-between, to immerse myself in her world.

In the meantime, I’ll write essays and try my hand at a short story that’s been percolating for weeks, exercises to prime myself for the marathon ahead. In spite of the title of this entry, as every writer knows, truly, there’s no time-off from writing.


Anonymous said...

Don't you love that stage? I'm finishing up a kids' book, but am desperate to get to the one that's "percolating." Good luck.

Tish Cohen

Patry Francis said...

Can't wait to hear more about the one you just FINISHED! Enjoy your writing holiday. Hope to talk soon!