Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Shifting Gears: The Pause that Refreshes

For about eight months solid, I've been working on my next YA novel Moll (out in early 2013.) That's a bunch of drafts, spelled only by various working trips. I finally got it to a place where I thought my editor could look at it, and when we spoke by phone she had exactly the same issues as had been mentioned by my brilliant new critique group.

I feel good, because they are issues I can easily tackle, especially if I give myself a little distance.

So I'm giving the novel a rest. Taking a break. But as anyone who knows me can tell you, that doesn't mean I'm not writing. I'm kind of obsessive that way.

Ann Patchett and friend
I write every day. Maybe not for long, maybe not much that's any good, but I do write every day. If I get two pages done that I'm reasonably happy with, I feel good. Ten pages and I feel like a winner. And for me, I like to shift gears completely, and work on something totally new.

Not long ago I saw a quote from Ann Patchett, who says she only works on one project at a time, not heeding the siren song ("Write me! Write me! I'm going to be so much easier to write than that piece of you-know-what you're working on now!") of a new idea until she's finished her current project...and then thinks the new project through for months, even years. I adore Ann Patchett's work. But that's just not my style, which I think is just fine.

So for the next few weeks, until I get written comments, I'm working on a middle grade fantasy that couldn't be more different than my historical YAs. Think angels and imps, talking animals and monsters. I'm having so much fun, and I know all my work will be better for this shift in my POV.

Maybe you're like Ann Patchett and must be immersed in your current story until it's done. But maybe you're a shift-gears kind of person, too. I think it's fine to discover your best way to work - which also may evolve over time or change with each project.

Give yourself permission to play, to break the mold, to try new approaches.


jan godown annino said...

Love it that you mix it up Janet.

I enjoyed reading
Ann's Patchett's column in The Times last Sunday. What a huge talent, she is. And I agree, good for all the different processes/paths in writing.
She's opening a bookstore in Tennessee. A bookstore opening in these times - how wonderful is that.
The great AP column is here

Have more fun with that new one & KUDOS about finshing the draft of the one previous. You are productive! As I would expect.

Janet Fox said...

Thanks, Jan! Yes, I'd heard that she was opening a bookstore. Fantastic.