Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Starting a New Book. Careful what you say around me...

What do we writers do when our latest book is finished? We sit around a lot, staring at walls, waiting for a flash of new insight. I don't sleep well - still! Now I'm writing in my sleep! These nocturnal wanderings are brilliantly thought out novels, all the characters in place, doing interesting things, busy as usual. Then, when I wake up, there's nothing.

I didn't have such a dead zone after Hafan Deg was finished, because Strachan was just waiting for the re-writes, and was all ready to go. This time, once the final proofreading is over, I am faced with a New Challenge.

What on earth will this book be about? I have several ideas, but none that are bursting to be told. I read with interest that Melissa has jumped right in again - overjoyed at her latest idea, while I sit, staring at the walls, waiting.

It finally occurred to me that I'm not much good without my writing. When I'm painting, I'm happy enough, pleased with most of my pictures, absorbed for hours as they grow into something worthy of sale. But it doesn't involve me to the same extent that the writing does. Come the fall, I have a couple of custom orders to fill for an old client, and I look forward to that, but without the extreme excitement I feel when I have a new book ready to go.

I go shopping, or take myself to lunch, and I study the people around me, and I'm waiting for that little spark that says I'm ready to begin again. These poor folk have no idea what's going on in my head as they meet my gaze, greet me on the street. Will they be the trigger that gets me racing home to my computer to get those first tiny thoughts down? Does so-and-so across the road realize that I'm considering her as a major character in my next story? Chat with a writer and the chances are your conversation is being memorized for later use. The most insignifant piece of gossip can lead to real suspense and intrigue.

I believe I have the setting in place, and a flirtatious hint of a plot, but not enough to cry, to use one of my father's favorite expressions, "Right, let's have you!" But it will happen this week, I think. I'll be away in August, but sitting around airports and on planes is perfect for mental-writing. I'm certainly not taking my lap top.

Considering I grouch about this tiny town, where I can't order pizza on the phone, must pay bank fees on cash withdrawals because my own bank is twenty miles away, and generally plan for a day of shopping because of the distance to the nearest major shopping center, it is a perfect place for a writer. The city tends to crowd your thoughts, overwhelm with ideas. Here, when a light is left on in a foreclosed house, shining out onto the night in a street where few lights are seen after 10 pm, the nub of an idea can take hold without distraction. Of course, I've already done a book about an empty house with a light left on, but what's the big deal if I decide to do another? Others may write "It was a dark and stormy night..." I like to write, "It was a dark and empty house..." You know I love houses, especially vacant ones.

So this meandering post today is to just to fill you in on my thought processes between books. I'm going to take myself to that lovely restaurant today, the one that overlooks the water. The weather is perfect, and it's midweek, so it shouldn't be crowded. I'll sit out on that patio with my glass of wine, and consider the sun sparkling on the water, and listen to the call of the seagulls. Perhaps my next book will begin there. Or over there, beyond the treeline, where that new housing development was recently finished. Some of those houses are still empty...

You'll be the first to know, once I set that first line down, which - as usual - will be the final line in the book. You know how I work.

Quotes to Consider

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing." ~Benjamin Franklin

"Well behaved women rarely make history."~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”~William G.T. Shedd (1820-1894), theologian, teacher, pastor

"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." ~Franklin D Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd U.S. president

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), essayist, poet, philosopher


"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~Mark Twain

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
~ Wayne Gretzky