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I Miss Writing


I haven't written anything for months. And I'm a writer. it's what we do.

To clarify, perhaps I should say I haven't written anything new for months. I've been winding down my current project, The Next Reader, which means a lot of reviewing, fixing, adjusting, and tweaking to get every word just right. I finished that process quite a while ago, in February. Since then I've been writing a series of synopses, or plot summaries, that usually accompany any materials that are sent to an agent or publisher when a writer is seeking representation. A synopsis has to encapsulate the entire story in a brief document that lets the agent or editor know how the story goes and how it ends.

Yes, they want to turn to the last page first and see how the book ends. I've never been that sort of reader. I can't see how any serious reader would even think about doing that. What's the point of reading the story if you know what's going to happen?

I digress. The first synopsis is the "full" version. For The Next Reader, it's sixteen pages, a little over 5,000 words. That was difficult to do. Compressing from 111,000 words to 5,000 means 19 out of every 20 words are cut. Also, while the book is written in first person with the main character, Jack Winston, telling the story, the synopsis must be written in third person, with a nameless narrator telling the story. It gets worse. The book is written in past tense, but the synopsis must be in present tense. Who made all these rules? Writing that synopsis took nearly a month.

The second synopsis is the "medium" version. Same rules on point-of-view and tense, but this one had to be no more than 1,500 words. I cheated and went with 1,946. So you get about two words for every hundred in the full manuscript. I struggled with this one. Trying to capture all the ups and downs of Jack and Lainey's relationship and at the same time relate their adventures trying to find the six previous Next Readers was excruciating. A few characters who were in the full synopsis had to be wacked from the medium version.

Once those docs were finished, I started sending out query letters to agents. Which is loads more time-consuming. Each agent has different requirements. They all want to see a letter that briefly summarizes the book (two paragraphs?!), my credentials, why I chose that agent, and what I've written before. Some agents want just the letter. Others want to see one of the synopses. (One wanted a one-page synopsis, so I had to take time out to write that - about a week.) Some want sample chapters - one, two, or three. Some need the first five pages, or the first ten, or the first fifty. In other words, every letter (actually email) has to be custom composed.

All that process takes so much time and energy that there's nothing left for writing new stuff. I know what I'm going to write next. It's a novel titled House Music, about a real estate agent who can hear music when she's in a house and so is able to match the right clients to the right house. I've got plenty of notes, just no time to write.

I have a solution to this problem, which can be summed up in one word: retirement. Come December of this year, I'll be leaving my day job. Then I can make some progress.

Can't wait.

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