The Waiting is the Hardest Part

(Still miss you, Tom)

I finished the first draft of my second book a little over two weeks ago. I’m making myself wait to do my readthrough from beginning to end. It’s been pretty hard. I haven’t felt huge urges to write, but I find myself daydreaming about the story and thinking about whether or not certain passages work. Normal, but I also want a month of a clean break, so I can return to it with the freshest eyes possible.

In the interim, I’ve been occupying myself with other projects. Proving that time is a flat circle, I’m revising the short story that I first wrote during my interim period between drafting and revising Please Give.

I received Wither back from my editor earlier this winter, but left it alone while I worked on Without Condition. I’ve been using the waiting period to go through the revisions a little at a time. The story originally started with a broken timeline, divided by stanzas of a poem and the occasional asterisk. The universal feedback I received, from my editor to my writers group, was that this was confusing as all hell. They liked the plot and saw the story’s potential, but no one knew what was happening or when.

This is why it’s so important to not only get feedback before you publish or submit, but a wide range of feedback. If everyone’s saying the same thing, then it’s a thing that needs to be fixed. So, I’m fixing it — and I’m really pleased with how the story is coming together now. It still amazes me how a story can change for the better with even the smallest of fixes, like a reordered paragraph.

In addition to revising Wither, I’ve been keeping the pump primed by casually writing a new story. I haven’t decided if it will be a short story or a novel, or even if I’ll continue working on it after I’ve sent Without Condition to my editor. It’s a story that crept up on me after a dream I had, one that asked for my attention in place of the short story prompts I’d set aside for this resting period (sorry, other stories — soon, I promise). I’ll see where it takes me. For now, it’s begun where my past two novels began to take shape: when my protagonist meets a man. The working title is Someone to Share My Nightmares.

I’ll be picking up Without Condition in two weeks. Until then, I’ll be waiting — and with a couple new projects under my belt, maybe it won’t be so hard after all.


Last year, I was a little less patient during my waiting period between drafting and revising Please Give. I developed the 5 Stages of Feelings about being done with one’s draft. This mostly still applies, even if I’m calmer about it.

I first mentioned Wither in May of 2017. I also mention We Really Shouldn’t for the first time. Both stories, along with two flash pieces, will be in my next short story collection, Wither and Other Stories.

I also had quite a few coals in the fire around this time last summer. The novel-in-progress I mention there is tabled, and will likely remain that way. There may be life yet, though, for Gods into Demons, even though I haven’t worked on that in months.

Music to Write Stories To

Like many of us, I play music when I write. I play music when I do a lot of things, and you can always count on various rock and pop songs to ring from my desk while I work (sorry, cubicle mates). If I’m not listening to music, I’m usually singing to myself. Songs help me move through the day, and many times, they help me move through a story.

I always enjoy reading what kinds of music different authors play when they write – especially when they share my preference for loud rock or metal. I think rock music is perfect for writing. It gets the adrenaline up, gives you confidence, and has lyrics that are garbled enough to blend into the background as white noise. Typing and head-banging are two motions I often do at once.

I listened to a lot of women-led rock and punk music while writing Please Give. Beth is a fan of that style, so listening to that helped me get in her head while writing in her voice; but I also listened to it because it’s driving and makes me feel motivated (I also like that style myself, though if I share music tastes with anyone in the book, it’s her love interest, who prefers heavy metal).

Other music I listened to while writing the book ranged from ’70s AM Gold to ’10s adult alternative, with a few styles in between. I usually listened to the same songs, though, as it helped the music blend into the background as I wrote. It also created a musical space that I would associate with working on, or even just thinking about, the book. This was especially helpful when I wasn’t able to write, like when I was at work. I could listen to the songs I played while writing, and keep the story fresh in my mind for when I could return to it.

The songs above are but a few of the ones I listened to while writing the book. I still listen to these songs a lot, even though I’m no longer writing it (I am making revisions, but still, not as heavy of a focus as before). I also tend to gravitate towards these styles as I write other pieces, as I associate their sound with writing. Music is a wonderful writing companion, and like stories, I’m glad I can carry it with me through my computer, my phone, or even in my own head.