The Page a Day Writers Group

Resting in the Lull

Posted on: April 20, 2015

Creative folks know well that feeling of relieved disorientation that follows the conclusion of a project. For me, finishing a novel brings with it a period of rest and recuperation. The storm abates. We can rest in the lull before new waves build and crest to send us on another journey.

Kirsten Imani Kasai_manuscriptRight now, I’m in the lull. Recently, I finished the Gothic novel (The Book of Blood Magic) I’d been working on for the past three and a half years, packaged it up beautifully, and had it “blessed” by my energetically magical friend before sending it to my agent. It’s been close to three weeks since it left my hands, and I’m still kind of stumbling around, blinking in the sunlight as if I’d just left a movie theater in the middle of the day after completely losing myself in Story.

I have to stay busy, in the meantime. The waiting is the worst part. Is it readable? Saleable? Marketable? Who will buy?

The lull is admin time. I catch up on short story revisions, embark on a mad submission spree, researching lit magazines and sending in new work while it’s still fairly fresh and exciting to me. Fool around with my poetry. Touch up my website and CV. Stave off the looming finance/career paranoia and anxiety that dogs me, always. (I fear what I’ve termed Melville Syndrome*–experiencing a spate of successes but dying misunderstood, unread and labeled a literary crackpot, only to have my work become a classroom staple that inspires movies, an opera** and seeps into popular speech a century after my demise.) But mostly, I use the time to think. Which dormant project speaks to me with the loudest voice? Which seed will I water and nurture to fruition?

I’m finally ready to begin (again) writing the feminist Utopian novel that’s been simmering away on the back burner of my creative brain for many years, but it’s a complex project requiring much research. However, now is probably the perfect time to go back to the Ice Song series and resume work on the third and final installment now that I’ve settled on a title (Tattercoats). Hopefully, it’ll be quick and relatively fun, and I’ll likely self-publish this one (as I learned that most traditional publishers don’t want to pick up a single book from a series). It’ll be a loving labor, a tying of the bow.

Learning to navigate the lulls in our writing careers means being willing to be nonproductive, to honor the process of gestation as much as the conception and birth of our works. To endure the uncertainty of waiting, to appreciate the lessons learned and the risks taken in our latest project. It is a time of restoration and preparation; we strengthen ourselves for the work ahead. In the lull, we can anticipate the next phase of adventure, the certain successes and disappointments, secure in knowing that the quiet room in our heads, so recently vacated by our characters, will again entertain a party of strange and charming guests.

*Or worse, EA Poe. Dying penniless and ill in a gutter, only to have my work spawn an entire literary industry of hipsterish t-shirts, lunchboxes, household decor, ladies aprons, wall plaques, pillows, films, scads of reprints and spawn new fiction genres. Sure, it’s kind of awesome, but if it happens to me, I’d like to be around to enjoy it.

**I was terribly excited about attending a performance but drank too much wine beforehand and subsequently slept through most of the second half.

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8 Responses to "Resting in the Lull"

Okay, so I meant to reblog this post on my professional Write to Win! website on my blog, Tenacity to Triumph: The Bad Ass Code, but it didn’t work and ended up reposting on this blog. Thanks for the update, Kirsten. You’re writing is too beautiful for you to die in a ditch, like Poe. My bet is that you will hit it, eventually, and very possibly with the manuscript you just submitted to your agent. Good luck, and thanks for sharing!

[…] Imani Kasai, the founder of the Page A Day Writers group, of which I am a member, just sent off her latest manuscript to her agent, and she’s in […]

Great post, Kirsten! Congrats on finishing your Gothic novel!! Wishing you all the best with selling it! Hopefully you’ll hear back sooner than later! As for the lull…I’m looking forward to seeing what it feels like to rest in the lull!! 🙂

Excellent post–I’m in the lull, too, and am impressed that you found the words to so beautifully capture this moment. For me, it’s a hazy time of desk cleaning and worrying that I will never sink into a new project!

Sharon, you’re one of the hardest working writers I know. Keep riding that wave of inspiration and you’ll enjoy a well-deserved break when the time comes. Christina, yes, it can be a mildly scary time of disorientation, I’ve worked to learn to use and enjoy the rest when it comes. And to get into a new project as quickly as possible to stave off creative worry. Enjoy your break; an exciting new story is percolating within you, just waiting its turn to be savored.

Perfect timing on this for me, Kirsten. I just finished the first in a crop of new watershed stories. In the short story form, that post-partum depression is somewhat blunted because there’s always that next story (and in my case, several) on the drawing board. Novels are different for me, the letdown is a little heavier–however, until something’s published I never stop revising, which is always a pleasurable process for me. I’ve started to keep a writing log, a la what John Steinbeck kept during the writing of GRAPES OF WRATH (his is called WORKING DAYS and I highly recommend reading it). This seems to help keep my feelings about writing and a number of other things in perspective. I don’t know that it’s a “lull” for me–got so many damn things to do and write, LOL. It never ends. Anyway, love this blog, write on.

Thanks Robert! Congrats on all the new stories. I don’t keep a writing log, but I keep project notes so that I always feel like I’m working even if it’s just the ideas-gathering stage. 🙂

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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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