Finishing a novel brings a slew of mixed emotions for me. First, there’s the satisfaction and relief of hitting the SEND button. Then, there’s the joy of suddenly having some free time.
Since I sent my new middle grade novel SUGAR ON SNOW off to my agent a few weeks ago, I’ve been on a reading binge, devouring Laurie Halse Anderson’s WINTERGIRLS, K.L. Going’s KING OF THE SCREWUPS, Daniel Pinkwater’s hilarious THE NEDDIAD, Lynda Resnick’s fascinating memoir of a marketing life, RUBIES IN THE ORCHARD, and Donalyn Miller’s incredible book about kids and reading called THE BOOK WHISPERER. Reading so much without setting aside time to write always feels delicious and decadent….for a while.
But then something changes. Suddenly one night, the kids go to bed, 9:00 rolls around, and I start feeling…itchy. Restless. My fingers twitch, and I know It’s time to start a new project. Time to pick one of the voices in my head, isolate it, and listen more carefully.
Usually, my books live in my brain for a good long time before I start writing, but this latest one seems to be bubbling up more quickly. It’s a middle grade mystery – a new genre for me – and I’ve been daydreaming and thinking out loud and scribbling nonstop all week. I know whodunnit and why that person dunnit. I know what it’s going to cost to fly to Washington DC for the research I’ll need to do when I get further into the project – $186.
What I haven’t done yet is open a new file on my computer and type the title, because somehow, that simple act is a very big deal to me. Once I start a new book, it feels like a commitment – a promise to show up at 9:00 every night and write. So I’m careful to wait until I have a good idea who the characters are and where they’re going. I worry about letting them down. I’m not sure yet when I’ll open the file on this new book, but it’s feeling like it’s almost time. Maybe even next week.
So I’m curious now… How do new projects start for you? With a bang? Or a whisper?