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The Craft > Returning to a book later

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message 1: by Rob (last edited Jun 30, 2016 11:18AM) (new)

Rob Boffard (robboffard) | 9 comments So: thought experiment.

You are a writer, with an agent and a publisher. You send agent your latest book, and while he is off reading and cogitating, you begin work on another...because goddamnit, the ideas are going to burn a hole in your brain if you don't put them on the page.

After a month, the book is going well, and you're steaming ahead. However, your agent then comes back and asks for a few changes to the first book, requesting a new draft back in a month to take to the publisher.

You have a limited amount of time each day to work on your books, and doing two projects at once isn't feasible (thanks to day job, needing to eat, shower etc). You know the first book is your priority, and you have to abandon the second one for the time being.

Problem is: you're worried that when you return to it, you will have lost all your momentum, and struggle to get going again.

As you might have guessed, this is my dilemma right now. No complaints - it's a dilemma of my own making - but I'm curious as to how folks here would handle it.

Has anyone ever had to put down and then return to a project? How did you get back up to speed? Any advice or tips?


message 2: by Joanie (last edited Jun 30, 2016 11:29AM) (new)

Joanie Pariera (joaniepariera) | 7 comments My thoughts on this - ( and I could be wrong) You get back your original interest in the first project by tapping into whatever motivated you in the first place. If you find it is gone altogether then it wasn't yours to write. I think it is worthwhile writing about something you truly believe in or something that you feel strongly about.

You began the first project . You did it willingly. As yourself why?

It will all come back.

If it still doesn't then there could be other limiting factors, like an agent on your back who is making you feel rushed or other such busybodies.


message 3: by Rob (last edited Jun 30, 2016 11:33AM) (new)

Rob Boffard (robboffard) | 9 comments Joanie wrote: "My thoughts on this - ( and I could be wrong) You get back your original interest in the first project by tapping into whatever motivated you in the first place. If you find it is gone altogether t..."

Thank you! Some good points.

I should stress that I love both projects, fully intend to finish them, and that my agent is absolutely doing the right thing here. This is a mess of my own making! I'm just curious as to how to make the the process less tiresome.


message 4: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) I always have multiple projects going at once. This month I published one, approved the audiobook for another, finished a first draft, am doing final edits on a three-book series, at which point I will have five ready to send to beta readers, and I just finished outlining the one I am starting in eleven hours for Camp Nano.

Oh, and promos...


message 5: by Jim (last edited Jul 01, 2016 11:01AM) (new)

Jim Vuksic The dilemma to which you refer is not exclusive to writing. Any professional can enumerate hundreds of times when they were forced by unforeseen circumstances to temporarily set aside a current project in order to address issues with a past endeavor.

The key word is professional. As a professional writer, you will have no trouble temporarily pulling away from your current project to successfully take the appropriate corrective action requested by your agent regarding the previous book.

Although it is sometimes and understandably annoying to pause in the middle of a project to address other needs, a professional like yourself just has to ask himself, Should I do what I would prefer to do or do what should and must be done? The answer is obvious. There is no doubt in my mind that, as a professional, you will do the right thing.


message 6: by Rob (new)

Rob Boffard (robboffard) | 9 comments Jim wrote: "The dilemma to which you refer is not exclusive to writing. Any professional can enumerate hundreds of times when they were forced by unforeseen circumstances to temporarily set aside a current pro..."

WORD.


message 7: by Maggie (new)

Maggie Anton | 34 comments When I sent what I thought was a final [or at least semi-final] draft of my first novel, Volume One of a trilogy, I immediately went to work on the first draft of Volume Two. I had no idea how long it would take for my agent to get back to me, and I couldn't stand sitting around doing nothing during that time. But I knew I would have to attend to Volume One as soon as my agent replied, no matter how caught up I was in Volume Two. As it turned out, it was over 6 months before she read it and returned it to me for extensive edits, and what I learned while writing the sequel proved valuable for revising Volume One,


message 8: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Goerl | 137 comments If you're an established multi-book author, you've got manuscripts around somewhere that, for one reason or another, didn't get up to the "publish" stage. Maybe some new idea overtook them. Maybe it had a "logjam" and got set aside until it's creator figured out what to do about it--or was forgotten. Or, as you've discovered, something without a deadline got shoved aside for something with a deadline.

Will you get back to it? Who knows. I've got partial drafts of stuff from five years ago that I look at and can't figure out what I was thinking when I wrote them. I've got draft from back in high school (considerably more than five years ago) that I've picked up, finished off, and submitted. Heck--I found three chapters of a novel I started in middle school I might even finish off. It all depends on how "in tune" you were to who you were when you wrote it.


message 9: by P.G. (new)

P.G. Lengsfelder | 27 comments Funny that you should mention this. On my recent book tour I was reunited with an old friend who handed me a dusty box of mine he'd kept for years. In it were AT LEAST 20 short stories and the beginnings of novels. Almost all of them were awful -- flowery and self-indulgent. I few were quite good. The rest went into the trash. What it revealed to me was that practice, practice, practice has its own rewards, but the practice papers, not so much.


message 10: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Barnett | 36 comments Jim wrote: "The dilemma to which you refer is not exclusive to writing. Any professional can enumerate hundreds of times when they were forced by unforeseen circumstances to temporarily set aside a current pro..."

So true. I had just thought it was safe to go back to my new novel, when I got an email from my publisher that the galleys needed proofreading. Interestingly, reading my novel again as galleys really helped me crystalize something for the new one I'm working on). I've always jumped back and forth with my fiction. Something I never do with my non fiction.


message 11: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Barnett | 36 comments I've also gone into old, dusty unfinished novels and purloin a well crafted paragraph or two (or ten). I never get rid of anything, so I've got dozens of "practice" works.


message 12: by Simone (new)

Simone Martel | 10 comments I agree that when you return to a work you need to think of why you wanted to write it in the first place. If you wait a long time, though, you’ll find that you’ve changed. Last year, I reworked a novel I’d written more than a decade ago. The themes were still important to me, but I was able to deepen them. At the same time, the book (1st person) was in the voice of a very young woman and I had to be careful not to lose that voice and that energy. Now it’s being published as my debut novel, though it certainly doesn’t feel “new” to me.


message 13: by Fraser (new)

Fraser Sherman | 48 comments I had to drop a novel I was working on for about nine months while I finished up a nonfiction book with an actual deadline. I didn't find it difficult to pick up the thread when I returned to fiction. So hopefully you won't find it a problem.


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