On a Midsummer Day

As July tilts into August I hope that you are all doing well, wherever you are spending your summer.

When I announced the end of my blogging days, I promised occasional updates.

So what happened since early spring?

Several editors have expressed interest in the concept of the nonfiction manuscript that landed me an agent late winter.

Laurel emails me every Thursday, keeping me posted on the submission process. She still writes, even when she doesn’t have an update. I hope she knows how much her weekly email matters to me.

Maybe you wonder what writers do while they wait for the YES that will turn their manuscript into a book?

They write.

At least, that’s what I do 🙂

And I visit bookshops.

 

Since I used to work in the publishing industry I’m fully aware that writing and publishing are entirely different.

Publishing is a business. While it’s important to remain positive – after all, one yes is enough – it’s recommended to anticipate rejections before acceptance.

But instead of focusing on the passes I choose to keep writing.

And to visit bookshops.

 

Laurel encourages me to work on other projects. It’s crucial for you to remain creative, she says. The more you write, particularly different genres, the better it is.

So I follow her advice. Not that hard since I have enough ideas to keep me going.

And do not forget to read, too, she adds.

So I visit bookshops.

The great advantage with an agent is that I can ask Laurel if an idea is worth my time and emotional engagement.

In the spring, she gave me the green light for one project.

Another nonfiction Picture Book that I sent her last week, after writing countless drafts. It’s likely too long, but I started with 5000 words and came up with 1700, so cutting another few hundred words should be a no-brainer, right? 🙂

Then Laurel asked me to revise a lyrical piece. Her immediate comment when she read it had made my day. “This is clearly written from the heart,” she wrote.

It is a very important piece to me, she’s right. I’d love to share more with you now and hope to be able to do so very soon. But for now, I can only say that I was very open to a new draft, based on her comments, although I was not sure I could change my ending. More importantly I didn’t know where and how to start this revision.

Responding to critique is hard. Writers are so attached to their words. It took us so much time to find the right ones, the perfect simile, the voice to tell this specific story.

So I stepped back and visited bookshops. And libraries, too.

Over the years, however, I’ve learned to listen to my critique partners’ comments and suggestions. At first, I want to shake my head and say, “You don’t get it.” But later, alone, reading out-loud my manuscript and their feedback, I’m able to analyze my own work with enough impartiality to consider my partners’ point of view. And now my agent’s opinion, too.

Her years of experience in the industry give her the tools I need to shape a piece that not only respond to her legitimate concerns and valid suggestions but also give more power to my initial idea. Including the ending that I thought was perfect the way it was. Revising doesn’t mean changing what I intended to do, I realized, but to see the piece with a different angle that ultimately will make it shine in a timely and timeless way.

So I happily forwarded this new draft to Laurel last week, too.

Now I can barely wait for my Thursday update.

But we are only Monday 😦

I do not want to agonize, so what do I do?

I write, of course.

And this blog post counts since it’s a bridge from me to you, reading me today.

And I visit bookshops, too.

I also stop and smell the roses.

Or rather the magnolia now in full bloom.

From Maine to You

 

photo(46)

Over the last months, many countries, including my native France, have been the target of particularly cruel violence. Whether the acts of radicalized Muslims blinded by the agenda of ISIS/Daech or unstable men, this violence triggers legitimate fear and more hatred. I’ve stopped reading about them, focusing instead on the simple joys of summer, especially short and hence precious here in Maine.

Before summer officially started, I was finished with the revisions I intended to complete on my new Young Adult novel. I have now started the long process of submission. Please, please, can you keep your fingers or whatever you want, crossed for me?

photo(55)

While waiting for feedback, I’ve started a new story while another simmers at the edge of my mind. For the longest time, I rarely shared that I had too many stories on the stove. I thought it was the proof of an unfocused mind. Until I read that most writers had always several manuscripts on the back burner, too. Many of them renowned authors. But. They also know when to bring one of their simmering stews to the front burner. I’m undecided. Both of my new work-in-progress manuscripts are Middle Grade stories. Both are dealing with contemporary issues linked to economical and social inequality. While I’m covering pages with words and scenes, watching the lake already tipping into August, I leave you with a few photos from my July in Maine.

photo(47)

photo(48)

photo(45)

photo(50)

photo(53)

Bear with me when I don’t comment on your blogs. I still think of you and wish you well. It’s just that my mind is churning ideas and trying to sort them.

Wherever you are, fill your days to the brim with the precious days of summer.

 

P.S. In my new YA novel tentatively called All the Mountains We Can Climb, there is food. A café. And three restaurants. And many meals around (or not) tables.

photo(52)

This is our front lake family table in Maine. The table is my son’s age. We bought it so it could fit four children and their parents. I found a tablecloth with fish and I got the small water can at a school event. I love this table. As I love any table where so much happens besides eating.

%d bloggers like this: