Discover more from Annemarie writes a novel
may is busy
trying to find balance in everything
May is here. The snow has melted and temperature is warm enough to tempt me with deck sitting. I love deck sitting in May, before the heat is too intense and the mosquitoes want to devour me; I have some nostalgia for the first pandemic shutdown when we had a gorgeous spring/summer and I spent a lot of time reading Hercule Poirot and drinking tea on the deck.
May is also the penultimate school month, so a lot of things are wrapping up, or nearly. The end-of-year owlies are starting to hit the kids, but at least they can play outside (usually against their will). We have a busy month of events that include the faraway grandparents coming for a visit, immediately followed by a trip for me, and then a trip for my husband. I need to find some way to make summer work, since it is a bit complicated for us this summer, and I also have to finish this draft.
I was hoping that I could get it done, or mostly, before all these trips happened, but life is life and that didn’t work out. That’s okay! I have a week before it starts, so that should cover a good chunk of it. I am past the halfway mark and Things are About To Go Wrong.
The kids are heavily invested in this project. They have a lot of opinions on character and plot, and their enthusiasm and persistent questions help me stay on track. It is key to have cheerleaders for a project of this magnitude; they’re as important as editors and beta readers and constructive criticism. And since I’m writing a middle-grade novel, having input from the target audience is helping quite a bit.
In the past, I’ve had my awesome besties as alpha readers. I would send them chapters as I finished them, and they’d offer some feedback but mostly serve to keep me motivated to keep going. This time, that doesn’t feel like the right move, so instead the kids ask me where the story is at and I update them on the plot and some of the fun details I’ve added or thought of, and they offer suggestions. They are convinced it’ll be a blockbuster hit and I’ll get a contract to write ten more, so they’ve started working on an entire expanded universe. It’s bringing a lot of joy to the writing process, and it helps me hold on to hope that I can find a home for my book eventually.
Writing is about as solitary as it gets. I find it difficult to get into it when I don’t have the time and space to truly tune out my surroundings. When there are other people in the house, it’s twice as exhausting to keep my focus. Something like a coffee shop or a library is nice for the ambience, and the way that things around me are not about me, usually, although there’s the risk of a Weird Dude trying to talk, or a situation happening elsewhere. I am highly distractible until I am fully immersed, and then it takes a bomb going off at short range to break me out of it. So a quiet house is the ideal. Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own is such common knowledge as to be nearly a trope, but it still rings true. I need that isolation to be able to dive all the way in.
And that’s also why the cheerleaders matter. I write the story by myself; it flows out of the depths of my subconscious in a way that I can’t even properly articulate. It’s so personal and solitary that I don’t have words. And then when the story hits the page, I need to situate both it and myself back in community, or the world at large, and that’s why I talk about it. The external world informs it and gives me the motivation to keep going. I couldn’t do it without both halves. This newsletter is another piece of the community component - knowing that I am somewhat accountable to you helps maintain that balance. So thanks, readers! You’re helping just by having my newsletter sit in your inbox!
This newsletter will probably take a short break for the next couple of weeks. I might be able to squeeze one out, but I’m not going to count on it, and instead focus on the visits and trips. I’m still hoping that I’ll be done the draft by the end of May, although perhaps mid-June is more realistic. Regardless, I am in the back half now, and merrily trucking along!
Currently reading: The Bromeliad trilogy by Terry Pratchett. My two younger kids love these books and have listened to them at bedtime many times, and demanded that I listen to them also. Since I finished Return of the King as the audiobook I listen to while walking, I have started this. It’s delightful. Terry Pratchett forever.
Currently listening: I really enjoy the GenZ-flavoured nihilistic pop that’s cropping up lately. Everything is Boring by The Beaches and We’re All Gonna Die by Joy Oladokun and Noah Kahan are both on regular rotation these days.
Currently eating: Cookies. These ones. They’re the best choccy chip that exists.