Sunday, May 13, 2007

That Empty Feeling


I feel as though I should be writing. Hey, I know—I’m writing right now to post on my blog. But for the past I-don’t-know-how-long it seems like I’ve been working on a novel: completing a first draft, working on a revision, rewriting scenes and cutting others…all that stuff. And when the completed first novel was ready to fly, I had the second novel to occupy my time. But now both novels are completed, and they’re out of my hands and into those of my agent. So I feel at loose ends.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have projects awaiting my attention. The first draft of my third novel is 65,000 words along, but for some reason I can’t get interested in it right now. I’ve recently sent off a couple of magazine pieces and have other ideas in my “WIP” folder, but at this point there’s not a flicker of interest on my part. Maybe tomorrow.

In the process of writing and rewriting, I’ve learned a great deal. I’ve found that it’s easy to let the words flow, hard to trim down what you’ve written. To begin with, I follow Jim Bell’s advice to “get it down, then get it right.” Then I hear Karen Ball’s voice telling me, “write it with your author’s hat on, then tighten it wearing your editor’s hat.” And I remember Gayle Roper saying that if a scene doesn’t contribute to the story, it has to go. Finally, I see the red marks on my manuscripts where Dr. Dennis Hensley removed comma after comma (an experience that sent me flying to The Elements of Style).

But it’s all done, and tomorrow the completed manuscript of the second novel, as well as a fully reworked and tightened proposal, goes off to my agent. Maybe by then I’ll be ready to start completing novel number three.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I believe when you talked to your daughter who suddenly had a break from school and work, you advised to enjoy having a little time off for once. . . (Of course, she's a Mabry and understands that actually *resting* doesn't always come easy.)

AMK

Richard Mabry said...

Ann,
Thanks for keeping me honest. I've taken the day off--just church and family time--honest.
Love,
Dad

One More Writer said...

I'm so impressed at all you've accomplished since I first met you--was that 2004? You inspire me to keep at it.

You deserve a bit of a respite. Enjoy it! When the contracts come rolling in, you'll be even busier!

Rachelle said...

Richard, I know that feeling of being at loose ends when you've just completed a project (or two). Your post came at a funny time for me... I'm only reading blogs right now because this morning I delivered the final edits of two books to their respective publishers... and my next edit won't arrive in my in-box until tomorrow. Weird! My husband commented this morning that he remembers the last time this happened to me -- actually having NO WORK on my desk for a day or two -- it was several months ago and it was so momentous and unusual that it sticks clearly in his mind!

But I really don't know how to slow down... I'm reading blogs right now, but I'm thinking later I'd better get to decluttering my desk space and bookshelves, put this "down time" to good use. But maybe I should re-think that. Perhaps a cup of tea and a good novel? Well, it would still be work... I'm backed up with novels I need to read to prepare for future edits. Luckily I LOVE working!

One More Writer said...

I'm so impressed at all you've accomplished since I first met you--was that 2004? You inspire me to keep at it.

You deserve a bit of a respite. Enjoy it! When the contracts come rolling in, you'll be even busier!