Where I spray-paint my thoughts…

Desks, Irons, Stewpots: When Metaphors Go Bad


My freelance assignments are finished for the next several months and my writing desk is cleared and ready for action!

Bwha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!! Here’s what my writing desk actually looks like. 

There’s a lot of creativity happening on this desk, but little of it is related to me writing ficition.  I do sort of get the point of that whole “room of one’s own” thing, although I think I’d be lonely if I weren’t working in the nerve centre of the household. 

Despite the clutter, my desk is at least metaphorically cleared for the next few months to allow me to get some time in on some of my long-neglected creative writing projects.  I’m hoping my mind is clear to attack these projects, though in truth it’s probably just as cluttered with random things as the desk is. 

All the same, I’ve decided to post here what I’m working on and where each of my would-be novels is in the process.  I’m not under the illusion that there’s a vast audience of people out there who really want to know what I’m working on right now.  Maybe it’s just that if I post my goals here in a public place, a few friends will be able to hold me accountable to actually getting these things done! Also, other writers out there may be able to commiserate.

I know some writers are strict about only concentrating on one piece of work at a time.  My mind has never worked like that; I have the attention span of a tsetse fly and (to mix a metaphor) I always have a lot of irons in the fire.  Madeline L’Engle (much smoother with a metaphor than I am) used to describe herself as being like a French peasant cook, always with several stewpots bubbling on the stove that she would fling handfuls of things into as she chopped and diced and sliced throughout the day.  The pot that had the most stuff in it by suppertime got brought to the front of the stove to become — well, the next book she got published, I guess. (Warning: Metaphor Breakdown). So here’s an overview of the pots on my stove, the irons in my fire, the projects on my desk — and what I’d like to do with them over the next little while:

Philippi  This is totally new, but I just pitched a proposal to Review and Herald for another Biblical novel.  They’re interested in seeing some sample chapters, which is a good sign. Instead of being based on a single character, like Esther and Deborah, this one will be about a community — the early church at Philippi.  That’s where Paul met Lydia, “a seller of purple,” cast a demon out of a fortune-teller, and saved a prison guard from committing suicide, then went to his house and baptized all his family.  Should be a vivid and lively cast of characters and I am looking forward to exploring a new historical world, even though it’s always an overwhelming task at the beginning.

Goal: To have three sample chapters ready to show the publisher by mid-May.

Lindisfarne  This time-travel novel has been percolating at the back of my brain/stove/fire/desk.  It’s about a graduate student in St. John’s, Newfoundland who accidentally finds a portal into the past — a portal that turns out to work both ways, allowing her access to a seventh-century English monastery but also allowing a very confused monk to slip into our world.  I brought the prologue of this novel to a Writers’ Guild workshop a few months back and got some very positive feedback.  In fact, that very same prologue is neatly tucked away here on this site, and if you’d like to read it you just need to ask me for the password (it’s still a rough draft; I need someone to translate some Latin for me — any classical scholars out there?).  I need to do a lot more research before I can move forward for this book, yet the characters keep calling to me, inviting me into their world, and it’s hard to resist. I wrote another chapter the other night, but now I’m really at the place where I can’t write more without learning a lot more about illuminated manuscripts (and the scholars who study them) than I do now.

Goal: To get research notes and an outline ready so that I can draft a sizable chunk of this novel in November, during NaNoWriMo 07.

The Stones of Ashreel  My fifteen-year-old unpublished fantasy novel got a major rewrite during and after NaNo 05, but it needs at least one more revision before I’m ready to consider showing it to a publisher.  I love reading fantasy but it’s so hard to write anything in that genre that’s truly original, and I think mine needs a lot more polishing before it would leap out and grab an editor’s (or a reader’s) attention.

Goal: To revise over the summer and have a manuscript ready to send to my agent by fall.

Sunrise Hope  This is the inspirational romance novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo 06.  I sent the synopsis and sample chapters to a publisher a few weeks ago, so I will be sitting around with my fingers crossed for this one.

Goal: To get a letter from the publisher saying, “This is wonderful! Send us the rest!!”  Barring that, to send it back out to another publisher so fast my characters’ heads will be spinning.

By the Rivers of Brooklyn (aka “The New York Novel I’ve Never Been Able to Find a Good Working Title For”). In the hands of my agent, who currently has it out being perused by a publisher.  Again, I’m using all the crossed fingers, fervent prayers, lit candles, good vibes, etc., I can use for this one, as I really want it to find a home and some readers!

Goal: Same as for Sunrise Hope, but with agential intervention in the process.

Prone to Wander  I actually forgot to include this and had to add it on an edit, which probably tells you where this book is in my head right now.  P2W, my 2004 NaNoWriMo, is probably my favourite thing I’ve ever written, and I have a good draft that’s been edited a couple of times and is maybe only one good revision away from being sent to my agent. But … it’s also by far the most risky and personal thing I’ve ever written, and at the same time the most ambitious technically.  Right now it’s waiting on a shelf because … I’m just not ready to deal with it any further just yet.  It will be looking for a publisher someday, but I need some more time to let it sit and come back and revisit it.  To the few people who read this book in its first or second draft, the P2W “team” who have cheered me on all the way … thanks; it will happen.  Right now it’s on the back burner, simmering quietly.

Goal: Let it simmer.

So, that’s the writing plan for the next few months. Now we’ll see how that intersects with the thing we call Real Life … also known as: All the Other Stuff on the Desk.


6 thoughts on “Desks, Irons, Stewpots: When Metaphors Go Bad

  1. Blink, blink. Something must be wrong with my computer screen. I didn’t see Prone to Wander on this list. And don’t forget that during the Guild retreat we each have to finish a novel (with as much done in advance as we’d like).

  2. Tina, you are so right. I posted this and then I went out to pick up some Quintana’s takeout (the Saturday night classic at our house) and suddenly, while I was out driving, thought, “I forgot to post anything about Prone to Wander in that blogpost!”

    I hoped somebody would notice and call me on it … actually I was kind of expecting Katrina, P2W’s head cheerleader. Are you still out there Katrina? … haven’t heard from you in way too long. But Tina, thanks for being the person who caught that … I have now updated the post to include P2W.

    As for the Guild retreat … I’ll be doing something, but it may not be finishing a novel. Either working on the draft of Philippi, or finishing the revision of Ashreel. Just like NaNoWriMo, I have to make it work for ME!!

  3. As one of the priviliged ones to read “Prone to Wander” I have to tell you again how much I loved it. I hope to read the rest of The Stones of Ashreel again as well.

  4. GASP!!! My goodness! I am in awe! These are good goals! My best wishes in their fulfillment! 🙂

  5. LOL. I would SO have noticed P2W missing!

    I got lost. I was reading you on Kinja and missed the “Dear John” letter you wrote to Blogger. So I just thought you weren’t posting.

    Silly me!

  6. Oops. Forgot to say…I didn’t even know about By the Rivers of Babylon!

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