Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

The Next Thing

When I left off the original iteration of this blog four years ago, I had just completed and readied for query a manuscript that I loved (and still do). I sent a dozen or so queries off into the world and got mostly silence. Bruised, battered and a little burned out, I shelved the whole operation. Now, with Powerless is on its way (August 24, just in case you didn’t know) into the world, there’s the eternal question: “What’s next?”

How I feel about my WiP

This was one of the questions asked as part of the Literary Titan interview I did a few weeks ago. You can read the full answer here, but the gist of it is that I’m not sure about that long-completed manuscript, while the WiP, like Nigel Tufnel’s guitar, is not ready for anyone’s eyes, ears or input. In On Writing, Stephen King talks about “writing with the door closed”, and that’s where I’m at now. This project still has no name, and while it’s moving toward something of a conclusion (now past 60,000 words) it still feels fragile. And I suppose there’s that writer’s paranoia, that if I told you what it’s about someone would write it faster and I would end up feeling like a copycat. I have no doubt, of course, that someone will do that anyway: this is something I think is in the air, something that is topical, and in a year or two or three there will probably be dozens, scores, hundreds of books with similar plotlines on the bookshelves.

But that does bring me back to an interesting question: what’s next? The manuscript that I left on the hard drive—one that was already something like three drafts in—is one that I like. I think it’s good. At one time, it felt Important, though I feel like it’s been passed by a bit. The new manuscript? I don’t know yet. It’s still figuring itself out. The question is, can I continue drafting the new manuscript while going back over the old one and editing/redrafting? I’d need to read it, first, of course, and we all know how much I love doing that (we don’t really need sarcasm font here, do we?).

While I was thinking about this post it also made me think about all my writing, and how some things stick with you longer. Until I signed with Breaking Night Press to publish Powerless, the closest I got to publication was for a manuscript called SCATTERING THE ASHES, which got to an acquisitions meeting at a publishing house before getting turned down. I liked SCATTERING very much, and I think it’s the sort of story that would like to read. What’s funny, though, is it’s a story I don’t think about it anymore. Hell, I think about PARALLEL LIVES (remember that one? Some of you almost certainly do) more than I think about SCATTERING. I still find myself occasionally revisiting scenes in that one and wondering about a rewrite. Maybe that’s because it’s a story that’s rooted very much in where and how I grew up. Nostalgia has power, doesn’t it? In the end, what comes next depends to some extent on what happens with Powerless. It could sink with barely a ripple, leaving Lisa with little if any return on her investment and me exactly where I was four years ago (well, almost exactly, that is, because no matter what happens next, I will be a published author from here on in). It could also sell enough and be reviewed well enough to gather me some attention. Hell, it could even be a surprise blockbuster that has the literary world pounding at my door. I will say it would be much nicer to have agents and publishers trying to woo me rather than the other way around!

4 Responses

  1. Hi, Donna! Still working, but progress is only slightly faster than when I stopped completely!

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