Last week I finished the third in my series for middle grade readers. I sent the ms to my agent. As I wrote him, I sanded and polished this book, read each chapter aloud at least three times and ran it through a word frequency counter. (Crap, I am fond of the words “like” and “time”.)
Do I think my work on this novel is done? Nah. But I don’t mind. The characters still make me smile after these months. I forget I am reading when I read it.
But now what? I admit feeling a little lost. It’s hard not to be using words in such a constructive way.
I already know the next two books I will write. One will be the fourth in this series. The other is a YA book with a few of the characters. Alas, I’m not ready to begin either.
I am not drawn to writing short stories although I’ve had several published. I read once author Annie Proulx said it was more difficult — and interesting — for her to write short stories than novels. Perhaps it’s true for me, too, although I’m no Annie Proulx.
So I went way, way back to my first novel, set in a small town in western Massachusetts, where I lived for 25 years. I took the best and worst of the town. I’ll also say the book has a triangle of sorts, a bar, a dog, and a big, bad secret.
My former agent tried valiantly to get this novel published but couldn’t. A few years ago, I took a hard look at the book and saw gaping holes. I did a rewrite. When I took a look this weekend, I found good writing and problems still. For instance, I was too fond of the words “that” and “had” when I wrote it. Spencer has since helped me break the habit.
I have found a worthwhile project for now: rereading my first novel and using my newfound knowledge to make it better. After this, who knows?