Thursday, August 12, 2010

Work in Progress: Now What?

I finished this draft of my novel and now am “between projects.” So far, I’ve straightened up my office slightly, edited my email address book, debated about whether I should change my email address to a gmail account (goodbye recently purchased 500 business cards!), and have done some odds and ends around the house. I’ve stared at various stacks of things I thought I might want to organize. Maybe I’ve read a lot of links off Facebook, also.

I should feel relaxed and free.

Instead, I feel edgy and nervous.

As much as I complain about writing and how hard it is to write a novel, I miss being immersed in my own world. I miss knowing exactly what I’ll be working on. I miss editing and revising, my favorite part of the process.

I think I’m also edgy and nervous because I don’t have a one hundred percent, fully committed idea for the next novel, and that’s sort of unusual for me…usually there’s something percolating. Instead, I’ve got all sorts of half-baked ideas bubbling up, as if now there’s finally space for them in my head. (I’m now envisioning the inside of my head as a glass of champagne, and that makes things seem more promising than the sturdy, percolating, coffee imagery.) But it’s too many choices, too much—where is my focus? If you can do anything, how can you choose one thing?

I told myself that there’s no reason to rush. Why not pull out some old stories and rework them, tackle an essay or two, maybe a new short story; why not relax and enjoy the in-between-ness of where I am right now? Why not just read some books?

Once again, my favorite quotation from Rilke, usually applied to writing and now to “not writing”:

“There is no measuring with time, no year matters, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come…patience is everything.” ~~Rilke

And, can I note, that this state of “not writing” has been in effect now for TWO DAYS?!!? What’s that word again…relax?


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.