I’m at loose ends now that I’ve submitted my cozy manuscript to an agent. After a marathon three week effort to edit, edit and edit at a speed that would knock your socks off, my thumbs, now the devil’s workshop, have been twiddled to the nubs. My head swam night and day with characters, plot, flow, timing, pacing, description, historicity, relationships and don’t forget the bane of my existence; punctuation, in order to send the MS out in a timely manner. Now it’s as empty as a vacated egg shell.
It’s the usual thing, I understand, to wait after sending out a story. To wait for someone to read it hopefully in a favorable light because this is my baby we’re talking about here. Did I send my baby out into the world before it was ready, or unsuitably clothed, or ill favored? I dread to think it will be sent back to me with those comments.
On the other hand, and bearing in mind that my thumbs can’t take much more twiddling, should I start on another ‘baby’? Should I prematurely begin work on the sibling before I know what the agent has to say about the older child? Or work on a different family altogether. Isn’t there any rest for the weary mother between babies?
The process of bringing a story to birth was painful, but also very rewarding. And interesting. It kept me off the streets and out of trouble. I’m hesitant to start something new and I believe I’ve forgotten how to start something new. What process should I use? I’ve always been a pantser but would consider the advantages of plotting. Maybe a loose outline that’s consumed ultimately and utterly by pantsing is the best approach. I don’t feel comfortable starting with an outline. It seems so cut and dry, not organic at all. I feel like Charlie Brown as he agonizingly procrastinated over a book review due, yikes, tomorrow. He thought of more and more reasons not to begin at all.
In December, two weeks before Christmas, I can also justify not beginning something new. But I also feel that without a story running through my brain I’m not justified. Silly, isn’t it. My raison d’etre has flown the coop with my mojo on the wings of my twiddled thumbs.
I discussed all this with my writing group last evening. They were all very kind and helpful. Our camaraderie, grown story by story through the years held fast in sympathy. Heidi, for instance, has two stories she’s labored over lovingly and Karen has, I think, three and just had another through NaNoWriMo last month. We know each other’s pain. We’re very understanding. But when the dust settled I was on my own.
“Tomorrow is another day,” Margaret Mitchell said in Gone with the Wind. “Manana,” that’s another overused procrastinatory crutch. “I’ll wait till I feel rested,” that’s Charlie Brown. On the other end of the spectrum we have: “Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today”. I don’t know who said that but I certainly take my hat off to the originator of that quote. With truths like that (and possibly another looming deadline) I think I can get another story up and running.