Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Pause That Refreshes

By Martha Reed

May was an exceptionally busy month because of the PennWriters conference. I went into it ready to pitch the first novel of my Nantucket series, NO REST FOR THE WICKED. That strategy included a full array of pitches of varying lengths (1 sentence, 1 paragraph, 2 paragraphs, full), a query letter, a synopsis and sample chapters in PDF (first 30 pages, first 3 chapters, full). It’s a miracle my flash drive didn’t implode.

A lot of terrific things came out of that conference. I met agent Victoria Skurnick who requested a full. I got to hang out with my fellow Sisters in Crime siblings and adopted sibling and freelance editor Ramona Long. That is always insightful. I was inspired by Jonathan Maberry’s keynote speech and frightened by both his level of success and output. The man is an automaton fueled by Starbuck’s hi-test but boy! Does he sound like he’s having fun.

Then comes the morning after. You know the feeling. It’s like the Friday after Thanksgiving. All that effort and production and then you look around and think: ok, what do I do now? I imagine Colin Firth felt this after winning his Oscar. You don’t want to go to sleep because then all that lovely effort comes to an end.

I’ve decided to do something radical. I’m taking the month of June off.

I know, I know, it's a scary thought. I’ve been working on my Nantucket series idea for 13 years. Lucky 13, in case you’re superstitious. I’ve written two full-length novels and outlined the third. I’ve got an idea for a completely different series that may actually be a screenplay, and I think this one is heading for comedy. I hope so. Everyone needs a good laugh these days. I have signed on for an intensive mss workshop moderated by Nancy Martin that runs through July, and I’m looking forward to digging into that.

In the meantime, I’m going to sip lemonade on my patio and consider: What do I want to write next? It’s exhilarating not to be on a self-imposed deadline. Kind of scary, too. I’ve stepped off the treadmill. I can’t wait to see what comes next!


Joyce said...

I'm kind of in the same place as you, Martha. I finished my revisions (Six, if anyone really wants to know) and I'm just tweaking the last chapter because I'm still not happy with it. Then it's off to a couple of beta readers (any volunteers?)

I'm working on my query and synopsis, too. Fortunately, I don't usually have a problem writing those. Then I should write at least a summary of what the next book will be about when this one sells. Yes, I'm being optimistic.

I have an idea for another series that I'd like to get started on. It may or not involve one of my favorite things. All I'll say for now is "yum."

I would have liked to take Nancy's workshop, but I already have 3 of those days booked. Sigh.

Ramona said...

What is this "time off" you speak of, Martha, when you have signed up for boot camp? LOL.

Enjoy the lemonade! I am working like a demon now because I'm taking three days off while my sister and family visit. I'm kind of a "I'll sleep when I die" sort of person when it comes to writing.

Ramona said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martha Reed said...

I can rationalize my schedule re: boot camp when I look at my calendar. It doesn't start until July 1st. Until then, I'm noodling around with a couple of ideas and it feels great to be fresh again1

Anonymous said...

How can I find more about Nancy's workshop?

Take some time off, Martha. It's good for you, and you'll have renewed energy when you come back to your writing.

Martha Reed said...

Dear Anon: Nancy's workshop is closed but there is a waiting list. If you're a PGH sib there's information on the listserv; or email me offline and I'll forward your request.

Jenna said...

Time off to reassess sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, I can't. Have to finish DIY-6 by the end of the summer. Shouldn't be a problem except it's summer, and the kids are home, and there's vacation to suffer through, and besides, I'm kind of stuck on the plot. So a month off sounds beautiful right about now. Enjoy yours!

Patg said...

Taking time off to let your writing stew a bit is not only good for you but the manuscript too. However, I don't see taking a workshop or classes as 'time off'.
Tell me you won't have your work on your mind during the day more (keeping focused on the teacher) than when you are sitting at your computer composing?
Of course, that's JMHO.

Annette said...

Joyce, I'll happily read your manuscript...just not until after Nancy's workshop. I think I'll be a tad busy during the month of July. Catch me in August, though.

Martha, I wish you luck with that month off. Knowing what all you have planned to do around the house during your "vacation," I suspect it won't be nearly long enough. See you in July!