The Blank Page

News Flash: Barbara Kay and Cynthia Balevre are the winners from yesterday’s post! Check your inboxes, ladies, and congratulations.

Liz Mugavero: Every time I finish a book, especially after a particularly harrowing deadline crunch, I feel like I want to crawl into a hole. A hole with no computer, more specifically. I feel like every piece of my creativity is completely wrung out, like I’ll never be able to turn out another word.

But I also have an immense sense of freedom, of being able to join the living again, to answer the 10,000 emails that have piled up, to actually leave the house.

The last thing I want to do is write. I say it will be at least two weeks, maybe a month, before I can even think about a new story or my Blankcharacters or a good opening scene. I happily push it all out of my mind and begin to go about my new, free life.

But during those relaxing walks around the town green, while Shaggy sniffs trees and we watch birds, I find myself typing notes into my phone—quick thoughts about something I saw that would fit into a story, or an overheard conversation that would make a great first line.

Or I’m in the car and suddenly an entire plot line jumps into my head and I have to tell Siri to take notes for me so I don’t lose it before I get home. Then I go home and start working on my synopsis for the next book. And guess what? It’s only been three days since I swore I wasn’t working on a book.

Am I crazy? Obsessed?

Nah, I’m just a writer. I can’t stop. I’ve never been able to. Telling stories is what I’m here to do, and it’s not something I can simply turn off. And in that free space that comes from finishing a project, new creativity has even more room to blossom. It doesn’t so much need time to return, but rather space to blossom.

Then I’m overcome with the possibilities of what’s going to happen to my characters this time. What dire problems I can bestow on them, and how they’ll figure a way out of it.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

It is. I do admit, I like a finished book that needs editing. It feels like I’ve climbed a mountain and can now linger on the way down the other side, taking my time and being all the things I didn’t see in that arduous climb.

But there’s something to be said for that blank page.

22 Thoughts

  1. That’s great…all the more books for us to read! I will never get through my t-b-r list, but I do like having one.

  2. Wonderful description, Liz. I’m new to this game, but it’s quite a ride, isn’t it?

  3. That’s why I’m a reader, not a writer. I ended up facilitating a writing group which means I HAVE to write at least 20 minutes a week, but I do not enjoy doing it and it is always like having a tooth pulled. Replying to emails, fine. But pulling a story out of the air: YIPES!

    1. It’s not for the faint of heart, certainly. But once you get bitten by the bug, it’s hard to stop. You never know, you could be writing a novel someday!

  4. I hear you! Yes, it feels great to finish that first draft, knowing you can let it rest for a bit before you have to think about editing. But shutting off the writer brain is hard–you’re always finding interesting details or characters or plot ideas, even in the market or on the street. One example: last weekend at a big box store we bought a de-thatcher for our pitiful lawn. The thing has three wicked rolling wheels with multiple sharp prongs on the end, the better to let air get to the grass roots. I’m looking at this thing and thinking, wow, if you ran over someone with it several times, I bet he’d bleed to death, very slowly. And would CSI be able to identify the weapon? It never stops.

  5. I hear you! And I’ll be in the same place as soon as I turn in the edits for Iced Under on May 31. Since my editor and I have agreed NOT to do the book in my original proposal, I don’t have a story or a title or anything. Yikes! Doing some reading. Thinking. Noodling.

    1. The nice thing is, once you plant the seed your brain seems to work on it all on its own, don’t you think? And suddenly the ideas start flowing. Hopefully they’re the right ones….

  6. As I was finishing up book four, I Know What You Bid Last Summer, the start of book five kept poking up it’s head. I wrote the opening of book five a few months ago when it popped into my head. And other bits of it keep waving at me at random times even though I tried to tell them to wait their turn.

    1. That’s awesome, Sherry. It’s always nice to have a starting place that insists on being heard. I haven’t had that yet with this book, but still hoping it will pop into my head unexpectedly.

  7. Believe it or not, I know exactly what you are talking about. I have been reviewing so long, that I am mentally composing reviews in my head. And I’m not talking about as I’m reading (which is true), but other times. I’ve composed mental review for hotels and restaurants and other things. It’s lessened some now that I’m not reviewing anything and everything that crosses my path (something I used to do for a site I reviewed for), but it is still something that happens to me. TV episodes. Movies I’m rereading. Everything. It would be very nice to shut it off occasionally.

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