I’m currently querying a manuscript and praying (fervently) that an agent wants to represent it. In the meantime, I’ve started working on another book. Okay, honestly I started working on several other books that didn’t go anywhere (for now). I’ve mentioned before how Stephen King described writing as uncovering a fossil. Well, the things I’ve written since finishing the last manuscript haven’t been fossils; they’ve turned out to be plain old rocks. Maybe one day I’ll go back and look at them again and realize they really are fossils, but for now, they’re rocks. Anyway, I finally found a fossil and started to dig and uncover it. It’s the next in the series of the book I’m querying.
I was scared to start writing this one. What happens if no one wants the first one? This one flows from the last, can I make it stand on it’s own? Or will I waste time writing a follow-up? Finally, I just said “screw it, the story is there and wants to be written so I have to write it.” I’m not worrying about whether the first one will get picked up or not. I’m focusing on telling the current story.
Now I find myself back in “the zone.” The zone is different for different people. For me, when I finally get sucked into writing something, that’s all I can write. Before I wrote the first book in the series, I frequently critiqued and wrote on the AW forums. (At the time I was re-editing a different manuscript). When I got the idea for the first book though, everything else went out the window while I wrote. I tried to critique different things and write other short stories, etc, but it just didn’t work. It’s like the story pushed everything else out of the way and took over.
In the interim between the first book and the one I’m currently writing, I was able to critique again, as well as churn out bits of flash fiction and other short stories. Now that another story has taken hold though, I’ve found that’s all I can write. It’s like the zone sucks all of my creativity. I attempted AW’s most recent flash fiction and although I had the idea and could see the characters that I wanted to write, it just didn’t work. A couple of paragraphs in, I knew it sucked and scrapped it.
I’m not complaining; I like being in the zone. It’s like drilling for oil. You drill and drill and drill and come up empty, then you finally hit the vein and all of a sudden you have tons of oil that has to go somewhere (in my head I see words shooting out of the earth instead of oil and I’m trying to catch them all and channel them onto the page). I love the feeling of finally finding the story, of finding a fossil instead of a rock. I just wish I could do other things as well. I enjoy reading and critiquing and posting on AW, seeing what chances other writers are taking rooting for them to succeed.
So, fellow writers, do you get into a zone? When you’re in the middle of a big work, are you able to still write other things? Or does the writing suck you in too?