A Writer Waits

This time last year I was halfway done writing what will now be my fourth book, Dickinstein, due out in October. I wrote the first draft in just eight weeks. Any author or writer out there can relate to how exhausting such a task is, but when a story has you firmly in its grasp, it demands to be told and will not let go.

It’s happened to me before, previously with my second book whose first draft was also completed in about three or four months. I also wrote most of my third book that same year in about the same time, finishing it literally on New Year’s Eve though I would not publish it until three years later.

Dickinstein was placed with a publisher very early this year. It was me who decided I wanted it published in October to coincide with that time of year and Halloween.  It seemed like a logical fit for the book. So, what do I do now while I’m waiting ten months?

Though I did complete a draft of another book a few months ago, lately my thoughts have been on another project which I actually started writing back in 2006.  Yep, it’s been over seven years since I first started it and I’m still not done with it, a very odd track record given how fast I wrote books that have already been published.  And you can see my actual track record over there —> in the right margin of my blog where I have a word counter for it.

It’s called The Piano Maker’s Son, a title that came into fruition about two years ago; I don’t even remember the numerous previous titles it had.  I had other word counters along side it for other projects, even last year when I was writing Dickinstein.  Needless to say those counters moved right along and even got updated daily.  They are gone now, a sign of completion, and there’s only the one sad word counter left – a constant reminder to me that the project still looms over me.Unfinished.

I know you are wondering why I don’t just take it down and forget about it, right?  Well, the truth is that I do want to finish it some day.  I still believe it’s a good story and I have invested so much mental energy, and quite a bit of physical energy with rewrites and such, that I do want to complete the story some day.  I will complete it some day.

Last year I changed the protagonist to a female instead of a male. While I was driving to work one day, I was inspired by a woman I saw walking down the street. For some odd reason, I wondered what her name was. So, I gave her a name. And after I saw here again the next day, I wanted to write about her. Something told me she was the lead character of this piano book – so that changed everything. But other books interfered – and I let them. So, my attention was drawn elsewhere.

So it seems now would be the perfect opportunity to finish that book, right?  I’ve still got about three months to go before I have to put on my promotion hat for the new book. Let’s get busy!  Nope…it doesn’t work that way.

Instead, I feel like I’m in a waiting room, waiting for that book to come out, waiting for the reviews to come in, waiting for it to be out in the world. It’s a fun, but nerve wrecking, feeling to have actually. Will the book do well?  Will it fail?  Will readers love it? Hate it? It makes it impossible to focus, to concentrate, to give this unfinished book the attention that it deserves.

Add to that I decided to go back to school and my start date is August 1st. So I think maybe that will be stealing quite a bit of my time and energy that I would normally devote to writing. Meanwhile, this book continues to grow inside me. I know it will be written one day, but I just have to wait for when that moment is right I suppose.

Does anyone else out there have this same problem?  Do you contemplate an idea over and over again in your head, telling yourself the story in your head when your are alone, but you can’t bring yourself to write about it for some reason or another?  Or another story interferes and steals the attention?

What do you do while you are waiting?



  1. All the time. I’m about three chapters away from finishing my next book, but have had so much other stuff going on that robs my attention/energy I just haven’t been able to make myself finish. I look forward to whenever yours is completed. 🙂

  2. I can relate, too. I have one book that started promisingly over a year ago. I work on it in spurts, letting it drop for months. I always have worked like this. But it feels dangerous… and I always wonder if the quality of the writing suffers when I pick it up again.

    I hope it all works out for you, Shannon! So much of this is out of our hands, or so it seems to me.

  3. Shannon, as you no doubt know, the 150th anniversary of the Sultana disaster will occur on April 27, 2015. There is a “perfect storm” of events revolving around the Sultana taking place on that date including the annual reunion of the Association of Sultana Descendants and Friends in Marion, Arkansas; the dedication of a new museum in Marion devoted to the subject of the Sultana; and the world premiere of our Sultana documentary in Memphis. Might the debut of “The Piano Maker’s Son” be another possibility for that date? Thanks! Mike Marshall

    • Hi Mike- Wow! I wish! Not sure I would make it by then though. I am looking forward to visiting the museum though. Looking forward to the documentary too. Where is the debut happening?

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