What’s Next?

One thing I’ve learned about being a writer is that my ideas all seem to hit at the same time, usually when I’m buried in one project and struggling toward the finish line. I may be in the middle of a romance novel, flying toward the final chapter, when all of a sudden — BOOM! I get an idea for a great short story. My brain goes, “Hey, what if you wrote about this?”

I could blame it on having ADHD, or I could try to psychoanalyze myself and say it’s a self-destructive urge to distract myself from completing my current project. Or I could whine about it, sort of like I’m doing right now.

But when my project is done and I’m ready to start on something new, I tend to find myself in a completely different situation. I fix a nice hot cup of coffee, put on some comfy clothes, and sit down at the keyboard with every intention of diving headlong into my next idea. I am a writer, I tell myself, and I’m gonna kick some literary butt with this next one!

And then . . . nothing happens.

Nothing.

All of those great ideas that swarmed me a few days or weeks ago? Nowhere to be found. Even though I jotted down notes to remind myself of the fabulousness of everything zooming around inside my head, nothing really grabs me.

Nothing.

That’s where I’ve been for the past several weeks, since I finished Their Love Rekindled. I’ve been floundering along with Love & Destiny, but I’m having a hard time hitting my stride. Just not feeling it.

So I took some time off and did some reading. No writing. I read a lot of romance, of course, because that’s my favorite. Besides, it’s always a good idea to check out the writers in my field. I discovered (and loved!) the works of Cindy Kirk, Staci Stallings, and Gail Gaymer Martin. But I also decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone and read things in genres I don’t usually explore.

I finally read the rest of the “Grace” series by M. Lauryl Lewis (and didn’t sleep well for a week afterward). I fell in love with the “Ruby Danger” series by Rickie Blair. I snickered all the way through Essa Alroc’s The Apology, and I got a whole new outlook on historical fiction from Old Fashioned Values by Margaret Brazear. I read One Silent Voice: The Jeannie Singleton Story by Nicole Du Shane, which is a fascinating and disturbing true story despite some really disappointing editing and formatting issues with the book itself.

And the strangest thing happened: my ideas started flowing again. Just not in the direction I had planned.

I didn’t think I was ready to start the fourth book in my Beach Haven series just yet, but apparently I was wrong because it is basically writing itself. I’ve finished almost half of it in less than two weeks. Those of you who have read the series might be surprised to learn that the hero of this one is attorney Ben Jacobs, who is sort of the anti-romance hero. He’s balding, not traditionally handsome, and a classic “nice guy.” I think you’ll all be stunned when you find out who he’s falling in love with!

I know I was.

I’ve never really tried to work on more than one book at a time, and I’m sure it’s not the wisest decision I’ve ever made. But I’ve got another project in the works right now, one that’s not a romance novel. It’s a lot more personal, and I am having perhaps a little bit too much fun with it. I’m calling it Fat, Fifty, and Menopausal.

I’ve thought about subtitling it: I Have No Filters.

It’s all about staring down the spectre of my upcoming fiftieth birthday and finding humor in the fact that I am not where I thought I would be at this point in life. It’s about dealing with hot flashes and saggy boobs and dating after fifty, with a little bit of empty nest anxiety thrown in. I am hoping to reach an audience of women at a similar point in their lives, and give them a reason to laugh even on the days when things seem the darkest.

As some of you know, I am coming out of a very dark period in my own life, and I’m not sure I would have survived these past few years without a sense of humor. Blogging has helped me discover my “voice” and a sense of humor that I never knew I had, so I’m trying to put that experience to good use in this new book.

In the next few months, I’ll share some excerpts from Fat, Fifty, and Menopausal with you all. I’m also working with an artist who is creating some amazing original art for the cover, and I plan on sharing a few sneak peeks at the progress as it all comes together. This is huge for me, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

So that’s where I’m at right now as I face the first “snow day” of the new year. It’s finally a little chilly in my overheated apartment (until the next hot flash, anyway), and my kids are snowed in at their dad’s house. It’s just me, the coffeepot, and my beat-up laptop with the missing keys.

If you’re a writer, how do you handle it when your muse disappears?  Or better yet, when your muse dumps a truckload of ideas on you all at the same time?  I’d love to hear from some of you!

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9 thoughts on “What’s Next?

  1. I am not a writer, but I do believe me to be a creative person if I do say so, when I am taking on a task, for the most part that task has already played itself out in my head, I know where it is going and where I want to take it, all the pieces are there so I don’t fear leaving it alone for later if inspiration about something else comes along, I can easily go back and start where I left off. Just a thought.

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    • I’m a bit jealous! I can do that once in a while, but I get more and more scattered as I get older, and my attention span is shot (along with my short-term memory). For me, once the train of thought has left the station, there’s a good chance it’s not coming back unless I’ve made very clear notes.

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      • I totally hear you on the scattered brain. Some other suggestions if you do not mind me adding on, recollecting thoughts, creative or not, is a subject I find fascinated, have you tried a voice recorder for notes, sometimes sounds can put you back at that place when you first had the thought. Also, listening to music when you work, then playing the same music when you are going over your notes. Some of my colleagues say candles works well, they burn the same candles going over notes that they used while working. The scent triggers memories. Just some more thoughts, sorry for being long winded.

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      • Not long winded at all! I appreciate the thoughts. I’ve tried using a voice recorder a few times, and it really does seem to help. I never thought about listening to the same music, but I bet that would work. Now that you mention it, I remember reading that Doug Adams used to use that trick with a specific soundtrack for each book that he wrote. And I’m always burning candles here, so maybe it would help if I try to stick with similar scents to trigger my memory. I’ll give it a shot. Thanks!

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  2. My online name should also be ‘plotless’ or ‘The Procrastinator.’ I’m still in awe of the fact that you can power through writing half a novel in two weeks…I am not worthy lol

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    • I’m usually a very slow writer. Like I said, this one is practically writing itself, and that’s a total fluke for me. I’m trying not to get used to it — I’m sure I’ll slip back into slowpoke mode any time now. 🙂

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