My novel is in the hands of beta readers.
I’m pausing a moment to let this sink in. I’m relieved, disoriented and somewhat daunted by the situation.
I’m not allowed to work on the novel while the beta readers have it. This means I have a solid month where I can’t touch the manuscript. My mind, which has been increasingly taken over by the novel, is suddenly set free. There’s been an easing of tension.
At the same time, I’m a little lost. For a long time, much of my mental energy has been gathered around holding the novel. Now some of that energy is available again, and I’m not quite sure what to do with it. I keep losing things, forgetting things. I’m re-inhabiting parts of my life I had temporarily set to the side, but my return is clumsy.
People are reading my book. YIKES! That’s as far as I get with this thought, then I pull back from it. They are having some sort of experience reading my book, and it’s totally out of my control. Will they like it? Hate it? Feel completely indifferent? I can barely ask the questions without getting tied up in insecurities. I’ll find out in a month. Until then, I am working hard to focus on other things, so I can prevent my month-long break from torturing me.
I’m on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, watching a river flow past. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to focus on writing for a few days, though without my novel to work on, this retreat feels very different from previous ones. Instead of filling my days with writing sprints, I’m playing with words and exploring new ideas. Also dodging bugs. All of it feels a little strange, but hopefully I’m planting seeds for future projects.
What do you do when you come to a break in a big project? Any advice for a lost writer?