When people ask me if I’m working on any new projects, I don’t always know how to answer this. Which also makes the question, how is your book coming difficult to answer too.
I’m always working on several projects. I have new manuscripts floating around in my head, half written manuscript that I’m stuck on, ‘completed’ manuscripts that haven’t been submitted to my agent in various stages of revision, manuscripts that my agent has reviewed and still need revision, illustrations sent by my publishers (editors) that I need to review, and manuscripts sent back by publishers (editors) that I need to revise.
This is by no means unique. In fact, it’s probably the rule. I’m amazed by writers that have one project that they doggedly attack and see through to the end before picking up something else.
I spend very little time sitting at a computer or notebook. Sitting and looking at a blank screen/ page isn’t something that I can do. For better or worse, I do my drafting and editing in my head, but I do take time to read new books. I need to stop feeling guilty about this. It’s part of the job. In addition to keeping up with new picture books and middle grade novels as well as Jewish-Asian scholarship, I’m always on the search for good writer’s guides on craft. I need all the help that I can get!
I just finished You: The Story – A Writer’s Guide to Craft Through Memory by Ruth Septetys. As a writer of historical fiction, who is pre-published which is the term the optimists use, Ruth’s fiction is a must read. Like me, but crafted better, she also gravitates towards difficult and forgotten histories. She’s a master. Her writer’s guide was equally masterful and in the end I also felt like I had just chatted with an old (very knowledgeable) friend. Her anecdotes are entertaining and engaging and work well to illustrate the points she is making.
While reading You: The Story was an obvious attempt to stall revisions on my middle grade historical novel, it was still time well spent. My manuscript is at the stage that sitting in front of a screen is the only way to get the job done. A good writer friend calls these ‘butt in seat days’ and mine are long overdue. I’m tempted to write another picture book instead. They’re not easy but they’re certainly quicker than a writing novel.
Writing is hard. Revisions are hard. Getting a critique that is less than complimentary is hard. Hearing someone who has achieved success acknowledge this too is encouraging. Hopefully it’s the push that I need. Butt in seat. But first a quick dip in my in-laws pool.