I have given each of my four current novels a revision. One was major. The other three were less so, but it still took quite a bit of work.
I researched a whole list of literary agents and sent query letters to six more in regard to my first novel. I now have seven active queries out there.
I even sent off a query to the Query Shark, Janet Reid, as a shot in the dark. If she happens to feature my query letter on her blog, then it will come with some great feedback. I got to meet her at the Midwest Writers Workshop, and she has become one of my favorite people in the writer world.
When I finished all of this, I sat down and wondered what to do next. There’s little to do but wait and see if any agents respond to my queries. The problem with waiting is I’ve never been very good at sitting idle.
The answer to my self-imposed question, “What should I do next?” hit me.
“Um… I should probably write something.“
So I picked up my notes for the fourth book in my fantasy series and spent a few days putting them in order. I gave it a tentative title: Against the Order.
I realized that, as a writer, I simply need to write. If I’m not writing, I feel restless. Even if I’m not in the act of sitting at my keyboard, I am typically working on notes, scenes, plot ideas, character development, and other writing stuff in my head.
I remember taking a class called Icon Theology while working on my Master of Divinity degree from Duke University, The Divinity School (Go Duke!). A guy in our class had a friend who painted this huge, amazing icon of a crucified Christ, and he brought it in so our class could see it.
We were amazed at his talent. It was seriously beautiful. One of my classmates asked him what he had painted recently. The artist replied that he hadn’t painted anything for a while because he didn’t know what to paint.
She responded, “I’m a painter too. As a painter, you have to paint. Even if you don’t feel like it, you have to paint. Even when you don’t feel inspired, you have to keep painting, because that’s what you are. You’re an artist. You’re a painter. So paint.”
That was during my last year at Duke (’02-’03), but I still remember it vividly. What my classmate said was one of those truths that inadvertently hits a chord in your soul and never stops vibrating because it describes you even if you don’t yet know it.
I didn’t know I was a writer back then. But now I do know it. I know it profoundly.
I have to write like my 6 year-old daughter has to sing. She has music in her soul that absolutely must get out. That kid seriously can’t shut up. If she did, she might explode.
That’s how I feel about writing.
I have to write! It’s in my head. It’s in my soul. It’s in my heart. It’s in everything that I am. I have to write or I might explode (a messy possibility I would like to avoid).
So I am.
I have four unpublished novels sitting on my hard drive, and I’m writing my fifth because there’s no stopping or satisfying this need to write except by writing.
I write because I am a writer.
I write because I am an author.
Writing is what we do.
Now, back to my novel…