Moving On

Dear Karen,
How do you move on to a new work? What are your techniques for leaving one story behind and starting another one? I am finding it very difficult.

It feels like all the things I know about writing, the very things you have written about, that we have talked about, do not serve me here. I know that I must let the story unfold, not just on the page, but to me. I know that not knowing the entire story, or not knowing the characters, is a fine place to begin. I know that writing is discovery and exploration. I preach these things, and yet somehow when I face them myself, I crumble, and I feel especially inept after having brought the work on one novel to completion, and beginning the work on the next. This is where I find myself today, and I have too many emotions running through my body.

It takes me two to three years to write a novel. When I am bringing that work to a close is when I feel the strongest as a writer. I can see pages. I can see a title. I have been possessed with the super-strength it takes to run a marathon. And then I close that file. I make arrangements for publication. I tell myself to not be lazy, start the next work. Then I tell myself to take a week off, maybe a month, maybe after I do my taxes. I make stabs at the piece. I put my line in the water and catch crappies when what I want is a whale to wrestle with. The problem is that I have run a marathon, but that strength is no good here. I must train again. In fact I must learn all over again how to walk.

I also feel bereft. After spending two years with a character whom I have grown to love, our time is now over. He has left me. Our marriage is finished, even though we still love each other. I need a new character, but I still miss Persy. Is this why authors write sequels?

Perhaps grief is simply a part of the process of writing. That and feeling like a toddler again. If I accept that rather than fight it, perhaps I can find the character I need to move on. Perhaps once you start writing novels every new character is a rebound character.

Love, Nancy

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