I spent the first half of my summer revising a manuscript. It’s in my agent’s hands now. I have nothing new underway. No outline for a novel, no notes, not even an idea.
Part of me misses being in the middle of a project. It’s hectic but exciting, like living in a house that’s still under construction, one without, say, insulation, drywall, fixtures, or finishes. But there’s a poured foundation, and the framing’s up. Best of all, I can sense momentum, the promise of everything coming together and getting done. Revising is equally nice: The house, standing completed for a while, needs decorating, then redecorating, an addition, perhaps, and some repairs.
But here I am, without a roof over my head and no shelter in sight, just wandering around the wilderness. I’m tempted to panic and hurry into something (anything!), but I’ve rushed the process before, and whenever I do, it doesn’t end well. The construction collapses before it’s much more than a shell.
Instead, I’m trying to embrace the wandering and wondering. Take a deep breath. Look around. I know this place. It’s the what-if, how-come, why-so realm of possibility.
If people ask, I will tell them I’m “researching.” That sounds official. It’s not a lie exactly because seeking and questioning feel like research. Reading all sorts of books feels like research. Going on little trips feels like research. Taking long walks, long baths, long naps: all research. This open-to-amazement state is peculiar, like I’m trying to hypnotize myself or succumb to an enchantment. It’s kind of silly, I guess, except I’m happy, mostly. For now. Suspended and searching.
The trees are changing. Red and gold just barely graze the foliage, but the green has deepened, grayed. My gardens look haggard, the daylily leaves yellowing, the hollyhock stalks leaning, most of the blooms in the flowerbeds spent. Summer’s tired. I am, too, but in a nice way, that delicious cusp-of-sleep languor. It feels good to wait and dream.