Yesterday I sent off my mystery novel manuscript to a contest. If it gets picked, it will be published and there’s money involved. (Wouldn’t that be great?) To get ready to send off the manuscript, I spent a week re-reading it, making edits and updating it. It has been through two full revisions already. I try, of course, not to get too excited about this — what are the chances, really, of winning a contest like this? But, on the other hand, someone has to win. So, as I hit the send button I said a little prayer and felt a little bit the way I did when I dropped off my daughter at kindergarten many years ago. Go on, I whispered, you can do it! Not sure if I meant my daughter or myself back then. And now, there it is — sent off into the wider world, well-scrubbed and ready. Hurray!
So, today, I’m on the Oregon Coast with my husband celebrating my birthday and, supposedly, taking a break. Oh, I will probably have a read-through of the novel I’m writing now — a sequel to the mystery I just sent off — and I might just have to add a few words but, maybe not. Maybe I’ll just take a walk down the beach and feel the brisk wind at my back and watch the dogs running joyfully into the surf chasing tennis balls, the children flying kites and the seagulls soaring one minute, walking through the sand the next searching for who knows what. Maybe I’ll sit in front of the fire and spend some time staring into it wondering what this next year will bring for me and my writing life.
I’ve been committed to writing 750 words each day since last November. It’s a worthy goal and I’ve been pleased with how, when I write every day, the novel stays in my head and I keep the plot moving forward. That said, I also think that taking a break, even if it’s only for a couple of days, is a good idea too. This way, I can shift my thoughts, let them soar randomly or stay rooted without pressing them into service just yet. But the funny thing is that now, when I’m not writing that novel, I miss those characters, wonder what they’re up to. It’s hard to leave them alone for too long.