Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Gone Fishing

We’re still picking at the remains of Thanksgiving dinner here at my house, still delighting in turkey and stuffing (a once a year thing), sweet potato casserole and apple crisp. Thanksgiving is, in many ways, the loveliest of holidays, both because of the sentiment and the fact that you never have to ask, “What’re we eating tonight?”

We had a nice time here, though we were bothered with the coldest weather of the year on Thanksgiving morning–the thermometer on the backside of my house registered about -18F at 6am, and I don’t think it ever got into double digits on the day. Brr. So much for making that new tank of oil last! On Saturday, we went to see Bohemian Rhapsody. Good film from a film’s perspective, though I’m not sure how accurate a biography it is, and it had a curious way of dealing with Freddie Mercury’s homosexuality, but more on that next week, perhaps. I also read (in a day) Stephen King’s newest book, Elevation. I enjoyed it, wished there was a little more of it (something I haven’t said about King in a while), but also more on that in another post.

I haven’t spent much time writing this past week. Of course, part of that is just being busy. Picking up and dropping off the Catbird burns two days out of the week, Thanksgiving itself can be hard to write on, going to movies, etc. (oh, the Bruins had a couple of games this week, too). There’s not a lot of time. But the other issue is I haven’t quite found my way in to the next project yet. Over the course of the week, I’ve been dropping a hook in the water and jigging it around, looking for a bite. I’ve written 3200 words, but there’s nothing cohesive there, not yet: a single paragraph description of the overall plot, a couple of scattered ideas for scenes, with dialogue between nameless characters. I’m waiting for something to really grab the hook and run: the right voice to tell the story in, the character who will assert themself as the hero (or Great Enemy), the scene that will really kick the whole thing off. So far, only the barest ripple on the water, the slightest movement of the hook to indicate that something might be nibbling. But I think there’s something there, just beneath the water. I hope it’s a big one.

How do you get yourself into a new writing project?


4 Responses

  1. Sounds like you've been having an enjoyable time even if not too much writing done. You can cut yourself slack on a holiday. Our turkey and stuffing is yet to come in a few weeks, so just a normal week here, though we did go to a concert and stay over in an apartment on Friday. To get into a new project, I just start writing and see where it goes – if I'm struggling to get anywhere, that shows that maybe it's not right for now, or maybe that it is – it's not meant to be easy, after all!

  2. Man, you got hit with the cold weather, didn't you? I'm glad it's not that cold here (although it is snowing today). Don't know if we would have retired here if it did get that cold.

    Re new projects: I have a document with my ideas written in it. I pretty much add to it whenever something interesting strikes, so when it comes time to write the next one, I look at that document and see if anything bites. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't. Writing series is a little easier (especially when I have it planned out in advance). But it's harder, too (trying to keep the series fresh). Each subsequent book is a struggle, because I don't want them all to sound the same!

  3. Nick–I also figure I might need a little brain break after all the work that went into the other project, so I won't sweat it too much–yet! We don't do turkey on Christmas, can only deal with it once a year!

  4. Fortunately, the bad cold has gone (for now) and we're just getting snow. Not huge amounts, but it's heavy and wet.

    I think I have one of those documents, too; I also forget to look at it!

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