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Keeping the Peace

When you “finish” writing a book (I can’t even think “finish” without feeling my lips pucker to form quotes), it seems some people expect revelry, and there is a lovely sense of feeling one shoulder’s fall to more normal levels. Much has been put aside while working on last chapters that needs tending. Days quickly get filled, and it won’t be long before I start obsessing about the status of the manuscript in someone else’s hands or Kindle. But I’m determined to spend some time enjoying a spaciousness available after hitting “send,” looking at the leaves, now mostly fallen, but fragrant.

Yesterday I wrote with friends in a café where we smelled bread baking, and I drank this latte.

My friends were writers, with projects representing the various states of a writing life. I worked on an editing project, Linda impressed us with her maps blocking out structure for a novel, Cindy quietly revised, and Jo pulled together a talk about her work. The largeness of it all the tasks for one book can make one feel overwhelmed.

But driving home past colorful mountains, I let my thoughts drift toward an unborn novel. I’ve been tucking away thoughts as quietly as I pick up an occasional leaf, though it will dry up in the pocket of my flannel-lined jacket. I’ve been letting thoughts come, and letting them go, in the spirit of autumn, when trees show off, then step back. I’ve been trying to look close at what feels as mysterious as this exposed log.


My pace is slow. I’m planning, but in a loose way, letting a new idea shuffle past the old, letting the old ones drift away. A novel can be daunting – and I still swear I’ll never again write one as long as that last one – so I’m trying to trick my way in with a page here, a page there – really “there,” often way past that page “here.” I’m fooling around with characters, ideas, and, yes, action – a word that was passed across the table yesterday – and like a bystander who’s not terribly invested, seeing what will happen. Maybe just leaves blown aside. Maybe a book.


That latte makes me smile! And so do these beautiful zen-like words:
"Maybe just leaves blown aside. Maybe a book."

As always, hearing about your process inspires me, Jeannine. xoxo
Thanks, Lorraine. I'm glad I can inspire you, as you inspire me.
I'm curious: How long is the latest novel? (I'm looking forward to reading it!)

I have never seen a more beautiful latte. Mmm. Enjoy this quiet time.
Hi, Jeni, the novel is historical for adults, so it's 500 pages in manuscript (still under some of those historicals!). Thanks for wanting to read.That means a lot. I suppose one should never say never, but my thoughts move to poetry now! To finish something on a page.

I am enjoying -- and glad I remembered to take a picture of that latte before I sipped.
I, too, put "finish" in quotes, because there are so many steps to being finished: the end of the first draft. The end of the draft that goes to the critiquers. The end of the version that gets submitted to the editor. The end of substantive edits, the end of copy edits ... by the time it's printed and bound, it has been "finished" several times! ;-)
Yes, and I hope you have small celebrations at each and every "finishing!"
What a lovely post. You never cease to inspire me.
Thanks, Cindy! So exciting to know you're working on very final-like edits! Enjoy your two weeks at your own table.
I know just what you mean. <3
It's lovely that you know just what I mean!