"Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
— E.L. Doctorow

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

the cooling-down period

I have "often" down.
Working on "well."
Back in 1984 or so--one of my childhood Olympic Games--I was watching the end of the women's marathon with my dad. The winner crossed the finish line, verified she was the winner, and then went on running for a few yards more.

"Why is she doing that?" I said. "Wouldn't she want to stop?"

"You can't run that far and just stop," Dad said. "You have to stop slowly."

While I've never run a marathon--my gym teachers were lucky if I did the required number of laps around the track--I sympathize with that feeling.

I've just finished a story I've been working on, off and on, since 2008. I've told my publisher twice they'd have it in a few months. I had the first twenty thousand words for years, and edited them over and over, trying to crack that elusive mystery that would make the rest of the story work. I got nearly there last year, finishing a 40,000-word rough draft; and then the first few months of this year the words just poured out. Good words in the right order. Rewrites zipped by, and I submitted the manuscript this weekend.

We're now in the waiting period. The best ting to do, while waiting to hear about one story, is to get to work on the next. My Big List Of Next never gets any smaller, even though I got to cross a few things off during April. I've added lines to my word count spreadsheet; I've prepared the page for May. I've typed up notes. I've selected names. (And faces. I like giving my characters faces.)

But I'm not ready to start something new just yet. Maybe in another day or two. I'm still thinking about Leo and Stuart, my lovely stubborn boys, and even though I don't plan to edit anything until I get notes from my editor I'm still going over scenes in my mind, delighting in some and pensive about others.

I can hardly wait to share this story with you, but first I need to let it go.

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