Nope, not coffee. We’re talking about writing here.
A lot of writers talk about letting your work age or percolate for a while. In On Writing, Stephen King calls it ‘letting the book rest’ and recommends you go do something else – kayak, jig saw puzzle, whatever. Just put the piece in a drawer and don’t look at it, no matter how tempting it is.
How long it sits varies by piece and person. Books should probably sit in the drawer for a while, but even scenes can benefit from this. When is the right time to pull it out? Back to King :
When you come to the correct time, take your manuscript out of the drawer. If it looks like an alien relic bought at a junk-shop or yard sale where you can hardly remember stopping, you’re ready.
Case in Point : I had Monday off and decided to write the entirety of Chapter 21. This is one of two chapters I’ve been eagerly anticipating so writing it was easy. The problem is that it didn’t work. For the damned life of me, I couldn’t figure out why.
So I set the piece aside. Went for a walk with the dog. Surfed the web. Went to martial arts practice and that’s when it came together. While chatting about the past weekend’s events, it struck me how to fix the chapter.
Believe it or not, it can work in a novel, provided it is presented at the right time and in the right way. Placing it in Chapter 21 means that if the reader has gotten this far, they’re going to stick with me for a few pages of info dumping because it’s the right time. And the right way was a conversation between two ‘friends’.
I came home, picked up the piece that looked completely wrong and alien, and started writing it the right way.
So I’m pretty happy about that. Unfortunately, it has set me back a bit. I believe I said I’d finish Genie Memories by the end of July. Sadly, that isn’t going to happen and I’m not too happy about it. I really wanted to hit this goal but things came up, inside and outside of writing, that just flat out prevented it.
I won’t set a goal for finishing it just yet. August is essentially a non-writing month. Students start coming back to campus in the next week or two, meaning we have to hammer down on all of our projects, prep for training, etc. I’ve got some vacation dates so I’ll be able to make up some of it, but I’m suspecting September will be when I can crack down hard on the story again.
Who knows though? Maybe percolating for a week or two will be just what I need.