The first few weeks after a manuscript is accepted and begins the process of publication are a relief. The work that has kept me occupied for almost two years is finished. Relief gives way to a sense of freedom. No more getting up early and working all day. My time is my own.
I always have a list of things I’ve put off and want to do. It can be anything from road trips to long lunches with friends, diving into the stack of BTR (books to read) or catching up on the movies I missed seeing in the theater. Ah, such delight!
After six months, restlessness sets in. I’m still not ready to write, but my mind darts around looking for something to hold my interest; self-designed procrastination to keep me occupied while I bide my time, waiting to feel called to work again.
A writer writes. Not necessarily with pen, pencil, typewriter or computer. Writing can mean living inside your head for a while – months, in fact – getting lost in a maze of ideas, meeting characters who say hi and bye and disappear, only to come back more forcefully with something to say – and not always what you want to hear. Eventually, some of them will take residence in my head and want their story told and that means an end to my sabbatical.
One of the movies I missed while writing The Masterpiece was “The Man Who Invented Christmas” about Charles Dickens writing A Christmas Carol, one of my all-time favorite stories. I knew exactly how Dickens felt with his characters constantly talking, giving their good-and-bad opinions, mocking him, driving him crazy with frustration until he finally surrenders and learns what they’ve been trying to teach him about himself.
Question: What does it mean to be a mentor? What does good mentoring look like? What steps does a mentor take to help a mentee succeed? Or be encouraged? I’m beginning to hear the echo of distant voices in my head.
Writing is a maddening process. It can be frightening to embark on a new journey into the world of words, thousands of words and ideas like puzzle pieces that are a mess that may – or may not – come together in a clear picture.