Revisions are done (for now) on my debut, scheduled for release summer 2017. I’m in a holding pattern until my editor sends me the next round to review.
Proposals for next projects are with my agent. I’m in a holding pattern until I hear back.
For the first time in six years, I’m not actively working on a book and I’m suffering from a crazy-making case of empty story nest syndrome, or ESNS if you want to get cute. I feel lost, empty. I want to have a latte with Becca from proposal #1 or check in with Nettie and old lady Delacort from proposal #2. I’m dying to know what Emma from my debut, The Memory of Hoofbeats, is doing right now. But they’re off doing their own thing. And I’m here … waiting, alone.
I have an 11-year old at home. Empty Nest Syndrome is far away for me (although the speed with which this past year went, he’ll be in college by the time I finish writing this blog post). Interestingly enough, my character Nettie (from proposal #2) is dealing with empty nest issues. But me, I know nothing about that. My real nest is happily stuffed.
But my made up nest, my brain nest … it’s echoing.
What’s a writer to do?
You’ve heard the stories (or maybe you’ve done this yourself) of parents who turn a kid’s room into an office/sewing room/cat hotel when their child leaves for college? Similar, sort of, idea.
On my second day of ESNS craziness (day one was spent staring at the laptop, refreshing emails and scanning social media for a hint of what my future held), I dumped everything out of my office drawers and closet. I’m a paper-reviser which means I have binders and binders and binders of old manuscripts. Then there are the journals with story notes and research for each book.
I moved the dust-bunny manuscripts deeper into the closet. Notebooks and binders for the newer projects are within easy reach in the top drawer.
Then there’s the electronic rearranging. I moved files around on my computer, saving files to the server, making sure there were duplicates on different drives, and moving emails to the appropriate folders for safe keeping.
This is the perfect time to look at your website and give it a facelift or overhaul if needed. Mine needed — badly. I updated pages, moved a few things around, tweaked photos, and updated my about page.
I have a tendency to accumulate “things” — shiny, pretty notebooks; office supplies; random notes jotted down on scrap paper; print-outs of articles I will read but haven’t yet. I also save emails that I plan to read when I have time. Okay, you can stop laughing now.
Part of my office rearranging was a lot of organizing and sorting of papers and notebooks. I discovered interesting notes I’d put down but forgot about. Among them were a few that baffled me, you know those “where the heck was my brain” moments, and others were little lightbulbs of happiness. I consolidated notes about specific projects into the appropriate notebooks, checked off books I’d jotted down as “must buys” that I’d already purchased and bought a few more (shhhh, don’t tell my husband).
And, of course, the electronic organizing. So. Many. Saved. Emails. Oy! Lots of e-newsletters that I haven’t read in months and months. I unsubscribed from some, scanned through and deleted ones that weren’t relevant, and read others.
My TBR pile is looking an awful lot like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It doesn’t matter how many times I remind myself that reading is part of my writing life, my corporate-brainwashed mind can’t get the hang of sitting and reading during the day, and at night, I’m lucky to get through 2 pages before I fall asleep. So I’ve been reading.
The thank you notes that have been waiting to be written – written.
The blog posts I’ve been wanting to write – drafted.
The social media plan I’ve been meaning to finish – finished.
If you’re a member of a writer’s association, this is a great opportunity to get involved.
I’m using my ESNS crazies to get ahead with two writer’s events I’m organizing. I’ve been knocking through the “busy-work” list – deciding on menus, fine-tuning the schedule, preparing name badges, creating welcome folders, etc. I’m also a judge for a writer’s contest so using this time to get the entries judged.
Pay it forward
I’ve been going through my “read” list on Goodreads and writing reviews. I know, I know … I should be doing those immediately as I finish the books and sometimes I do. Other times though, I update my status from my phone thinking I’ll remember to post when I get back to my computer. And then time blows past me. Writing down time is the perfect time to catch up.
Post those reviews on Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble as well. Support your fellow writers!
Do non-writing related things that you’ve been wanting to do but didn’t have the time for. I’ve been crocheting. I’m almost done with a throw-blanket. While my fingers move, my brain noodles. I’ve worked out a plot issue with one of the proposals, and came up with two new story ideas. Oh, and figured out how to re-organize the living and dining rooms so I can turn one into a library (gotta find room for those additional books I bought).
I’ve been filling my time and feeling productive. But I still miss my characters.
Do you get ESNS? How do you handle writing down time?
* * * * * *
Orly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world, where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is a co-founder and past president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and a member of the Tall Poppy Writers. She is rep’d by Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency LLC.
Orly’s debut, The Memory of Hoofbeats, will be released by Forge in 2017.