Discover more from The Next Novel
Notes to self
A week ago, I found out that I didn’t get a grant that I really, really wanted. I don’t usually allow myself to get my hopes up about submissions; when I send a story or book out into the world, I try my best to forget about it. I don’t take rejections personally — it’s all part of the game. But this one I was really hoping for, because I had proposed a series of very specific research trips, and getting the grant would have felt like permission — even obligation — to take those trips.
I’m sort of thinking maybe I plan the trips anyway? At least one of them. Make it shorter, more manageable, more affordable. But make the thing I dreamed up happen. Yes, I should. I just talked myself into it. Thanks for being here.
This week in reading
I listened to I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai and it was one of those audiobook experiences where I kept searching for/creating pockets of time throughout the day so I could listen to just five more minutes. (Julia Whelan narrated, of course — she is magnificent.) The POV, the unspooling of the story, the layering of new complications with every single chapter. I often say I love a book with no plot, but that’s because plot is tough to pull off and not fun to read when it’s not working. But a well done plot is so satisfying, and I found this one to be very well done.
This week in writing
The pond novel progresses, bit by bit! Reading good books always give me lots of ideas for my own writing, so I’ve been very active in my notes app lately, jotting down things like, “More LORE” and “She needs to wind up in the boat.” Sometimes I wake up to middle-of-the-night notes that make no sense or are completely unhelpful, like, “Something needs to happen.” (At work I often jokingly tell our creative director to “just make something cool,” and this feels like that — I’m trolling myself.)
I also started a new, fourth (?) book project this week. (For those keeping track, we’ve got the glass house novel, the pond novel, the memoirette, and that’s not counting the two novels in drawers, which may or may not come back from the dead at some point.)
This new project is very different from the others, which is why I feel comfortable having so many going at once. It’s an idea I’ve had for years and one day this week I woke up and just thought, “It’s time.” That’s all I’ll say about it for now, but I’ll share more if it’s going well enough to continue.
My main focus is still getting a full draft of the pond novel done. I’m starting to scheme up a weekend writing retreat to really focus on it for a whole day or two. We’re well past 50k words now, just have to land the plane.