About ten days ago I sent out more than twenty query letters, etc. for my most recently finished novel. Since then, I have been struggling to overcome the anxiety fueled ups and downs that go along with the waiting game. This is nothing new to anyone who has gone through the process. What I am learning is that it doesn't get better with time. If anything, I think it's gotten worse this time around. Before I only half hoped for a response. This time my material is better, and I know it. Agents are responding, so I feel like I'm standing on a ledge.
In an effort to push myself to treat this like a career/set goals for myself/ practice meeting deadlines/yadda, yadda, yadda- I persevered and mapped out the plot for what I decided would be my next project. I'm proud to say that despite the nagging "how about now?" feeling that accompanied the hourly (or sometimes more frequent) checks just to make sure I wasn't missing something important in my e-mail (ie: OMG this story is amazing, I must, MUST represent it! NOW!!) I did manage to finish the plot diagram, character outlines, and several preparatory writing exercises for my next book. I'm now at the stage where I am ready to plunge in and start the hardcore writing. But my distracted mind can't settle. There are e-mails to check, you know. And staring at my empty in-box does so much to fuel my creative spark.
Not to be extinguished, my creativity perked back up again this afternoon as I was driving home from work. Characters started whispering to me. Some of them peeked at me from around corners, giving me hints of who they might be- what they look like, the clothes they wear. They whisper of motivations, likes and dislikes, dialogue, love, hate, magic... the trouble is, they are the wrong characters. They don't belong to this story. I'm not working on their story yet. It's still tucked away in the back of my head somewhere collecting cobwebs until I call it's number. I thought I locked the attic door... but someone has pushed it back open. So I scrabble with the creatures on the other side, desperately trying to stuff them back in before the characters in the other room hear them and everything becomes a muddled mess.
I think I've succeeded for now, but it's never a sure thing- after all, most of the people on the other side of that door have supernatural abilities. I fear they are about to come bursting out any minute.
Do you ever struggle with the characters in your head? Do they all wait their turn patiently, like good little creations, or are they as badly behaved as mine? More importantly, when do you let them have their way, set aside the planned project, and go with the flow?