Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

The Week That Was

This was a funny week for me here at the Doubting Writer. For the first time in a while, I didn’t do a whole lot of actual writing. I put the finishing touches on Barton’s Womenlast week and, gasp!, turned it over to my wife on Saturday. When I was not out of the house (cross country meet on Saturday, Writer’s Circle on Sunday) I was predictably on edge, especially when I sat on the couch reading Before You Know Kindness (I like it) and realized my wife was reading my book at the same time.

She started it Saturday evening. By Sunday afternoon she had read 2/3 of it, and said she didn’t want to keep reading. This would not seem to be very good news, except it was: she didn’t want to keep reading because the situation was making her uncomfortable. I asked (about the only thing I asked while she was reading) if it made her uncomfortable because I wrote it, or if it was because of the situation itself. She said it was the latter. Fist pump! I elicited feelings! Yes! She finished the book in the wee hours of Monday morning, 368 pages in less than two days, and I was able to carry on a meaningful conversation with her about it (Though I often did so from another room. Picture me getting up to take a dish into the kitchen, making coffee, picking lint of my sweater, moving, moving, moving). She had more meaningful things to say about this one than she did with Parallel Lives, and I am grateful for that. Now we wait to see what other readers have to say.

But, as I’ve said, I’ve done very little ‘new’ writing. This must be one of those down phases where my brain needs to regroup and recharge. Instead, I pulled out a short story I finished over the summer, Last Man Standing, polished it up, and sent it off yesterday to a few short story markets. I’ll spend some more time over the next few days looking for others. Short story submissions are time consuming, that’s for sure.

Of ‘new’ writing, all I did this week was a short bit at my writer’s circle on Sunday. It wasn’t much, about 400 words of a conversation between two people that I think might be part of The Next Project. Of course, I don’t know if it is or not. Right now, The Next Project is still the germiest-germ of an idea kicking around the back room, and that brings me to the next question: NaNoWriMo.

I’m still on the fence about NaNo. While I ‘won’ by hitting 50K in 2010, last year I never really got out of the gate (in fairness to me, I spent the first two weeks or so trying to push Parallel Lives out the door, so that shot the month for me). I don’t think I even had a real idea heading into last year, and that’s the problem this year. The Next Project is still waiting for that Special Something, the catalyst that will allow me to do this:

I’m faced with an interesting question for this. Do I take what little I have of an idea for The Next Project and just start now? I am a discovery writer, after all, and I usually start without too much of an idea of where things are going, but the monster is usually moving a little more on the table when I do that. The Next Project may not be far enough along for me to do that, and I hesitate, for fear of spoiling it somehow. Like, say, picking up a brain from Abby something. On the other hand, it gives me a chance to try working in a new way, to try experimenting a bit. I have six days; I could still give The Next Thing some thought and maybe, maybe, come up with an…outline. Yes, I said it, I could come up with an outline. We’ll see. Still, it will be nice to get to work on drafting something new again.

Something of interest I saw today. If you don’t read Jane Friedman’s blog, take a look at today’s entry. She also links to a presentation she did in Germany last month, The Future of the Author-Publisher Relationship.  Thought provoking stuff, though I know better than to promise a post inspired by Ms. Friedman’s ideas.

Finally, Hurricane Nancy is still roaring through the blogosphere. Make sure you stop by Nancy’s blog and find out where she’ll be on the next stop on her blog tour. I had a great time interviewing her, and thank you all for your comments. Until Monday, have a great weekend!

8 Responses

  1. Oh I so know what you mean about waiting for Something Special. I have a couple of projects sitting around waiting for that. I want it to happen so badly but I'm reluctant to force it. BTW, I can see why your wife had the reaction she did–I'm not that far but you do an AWESOME amazing job with the creepiness factor in Barton's Women. I LOVE it!!!!! What incredible writing!!!! More to come . . .:)

  2. Oh I would be so worried that I'd spoil the new idea if I started it too early. But to be honest, I'm always secretly worried that I'll spoil an idea even when it does have a lot of meat on its bones. It's always worth a shot, so I'd say if you're not completely burnt out from Barton's Women, go for it!

    Short story submissions are a pain in the backside, but good luck with them too! 😀

  3. Argh! I so want to dive right into BW! Gotta get through this edit first, but I simply cannot wait. Especially hearing about your wife's reaction and Lisa's comment.

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