As stated in the summary of this blog, there is a lot of waiting in the process of seeking an agent and a publisher, and I have entered into one of those waiting periods. As it stands, eight agents have my manuscript for review (5 have partials and 3 have the full manuscript) and I am at their leisure, so to speak. With so many questions unanswered, I have placed a moratorium on the query process as I don't know if I could take adding to that list just yet (assuming that other agents would request more materials as well). So, with the book finished (I have also placed a moratorium on revision for the time being) and the query process at a halt, the only thing for me to do is to move on.
While I know it's the best thing for me to do right now, it's also a hard thing for me to do. The act of moving on means I have to stop thinking about my novel, On the Edge of Someplace Else. I have to stop thinking about these characters that I've lived with for more than three years (in some cases over eight years). I have to stop thinking about this town that I've created, that exists merely because I wrote it into existence. I have to stop worrying about their future: will they be seen and understood by others, will their story be told? I have to stop because it's time to move on to new characters, new towns, new stories.
The process by which I write starts with one character first. With the first novel, it actually began with Brian, though initially he was much younger. The rape of Jenny Wade was always the catalyst but originally she wasn't even going to be in the book, it was all about Brian and his observations about the town in which he lived as they dealt with the events created by this act of violence. As I, via Brian, began to move through the town, I began to meet the people and hear their stories. Most often, I meet my characters at night, after I've gone to bed but before I've fallen asleep. They sit and tell me their life stories and I listen. I don't write anything down because I don't want to hinder them and somehow I retain what they've told me until the next morning, until I can get to the laptop and record what I've learned. Each character has revealed themselves to me in this way. And this is how the book was written, one character at a time who reveals how they intersect with the other characters.
But since their stories have been told, they don't come to me anymore. They've told all they needed to tell me. I've recorded all they've wanted to say.
But now there are new people coming into my bedroom at night, strangers with whom I've yet to feel comfortable, though I'm warming to them. They have their stories and lives that they need to unburden, which they're doing, slowly but surely. Stories that are vastly different than the ones that came from the residents of Ashmoore, Oklahoma. These people come from far away places like Prague and Brazil and New York, and from far away times that I know little about. And, while their stories are fascinating to me, I'm not sure I'm the right person to relate them, yet. There is so much for me to learn about them. And I'm trying to listen carefully, trying to focus my attention on them and not look backward at the other, more comfortable characters. But it's hard.
It's hard to move on, but I have to in order to keep progressing as a writer, a storyteller. While the creative process of a new story, and the characters that inhabit that story, is one of the most exciting periods in writing, it's also the scariest because the writer must enter unknown territory and encounter unknown people. But it has to be done, so that's what I'm doing, if only slightly reluctantly. I am moving on to new worlds and hope that one day soon it will be a world in which I feel comfortable and eager to tell you about.