Unwritten Books

Lea Wait, here, just looking around my study and taking a deep breath.

I met my March 1 Kensington deadline for the first in my Haven Harbor Mainely Needlework series. Today I sent what I hope are final revisions on a middle grades contemporary mystery to my agent. Next challenge: writing an outline of the second book in the Needlework series.

But as I look around my study, I hear other stories calling to me.

Green, blue and yellow file folders marked with key words that mean nothing to anyone but me hold notes, paragraphs, character studies, sources to check and, even, in some cases, notebooks full of research materials that have at some point fascinated me and may someday again. One in particular tugs at me right now. It’s a book for young people set in 1970, and my agent would love me to write it. I’d love to write it, too.

So … why aren’t I doing just that? And why have all those other piles of research and folders of plots and characters not become books?

I could give you reasons. Because another book was under contract. Because my agent said “it’s not the right time,” for a certain subject. Because I started to fill out a plot and got stuck. Moved on to another folder. Had too many promotional opportunities or family obligations, and too little time.

I’ve completed the research and outlines for three of those books — the one set in 1970, another set in 1778, that was to be the sequel to a book that hasn’t sold, and a third set in 1848. That one my agent had serious doubt about, despite my enthusiasm. So I didn’t write it. I want to. I may still.

And there are other less assembled visions. Ideas; plots; settings. All of them are possibilities, and all of them wait, sometimes patiently, sometimes not.

For now, the brightly colored folders just remind me there is always another book to write.

My next Needlepoint book is due September 1, so that one has to be on top of the pile.

But if some days that writing hits a wall, I may pick up one of those other folders and write a little, or do a little more research, or a little plot thickening. Who knows? Some day one of them may become a book.

In the meantime, those folders are waiting for me. Always in the back of my mind. Just waiting.

Reminding me there is never enough time.

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3 Responses to Unwritten Books

  1. My struggle exactly!

  2. Kate Flora says:

    So true, Lea. A few years ago, I decided to take a break. Step back from writing and do something else. Just as soon, I thought, as I finished a few things. Those “few things” were about five years worth of projects. The list has never gotten shorter. I think I’ll die with about five years worth of projects still to be done.

    Far better than those writers who can’t find an idea, right?

  3. Barb Ross says:

    At author talks, people always ask, “Where do you get your ideas?” Honestly, I tell them, that’s the least of it. I’m going to run out of time way before I run out of ideas.

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