I’m at a crossroads, staring at the intersection in front of me wondering which way to I go. I can even imagine the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz telling me, “That way is very nice. It’s pleasant down that way too. Of course, people do go both ways.”
I’ve just finished my most recent draft of The Princess of Sweetwater. It’s been through my critique group, beta readers, and historical fact checkers. I have been working on this story off and on now for six years. It’s ready for me to send to the editor for final revisions before submitting it for publication.
It begs the question, what do I do while I wait for the editor to complete her part segment this journey?
I can stay where I am. Sitting on the fence, waiting, and stewing about what the editor is doing, while I work on query letters and pitches.
I can march on straight ahead into the high plains of New Mexico to start researching and outlining my next novel. I do have a research trip already scheduled for October on my calendar. I also have a stack of books to read on ranches, trains, and the state of medicine at that time.
I can turn right and cross the bridge to focus on writing short stories. I have two stories that need revisions, they have been rejected by one publisher but with a little tweaking could be sent to another. It would be a challenge and a little scary. I’m not used to writing short.
I can turn left, go down into the valley, and pull out an unfinished, abandoned project. Maybe it could be revitalized and finished. I have at least three of those in the files. Okay, it’s more like six or eight, but who’s counting?
These are all constructive. They are moving me toward my goal. Each has a purpose.
There is no shortage of writing I could be doing, the problem is getting passed the paralysis of analysis. That’s what comes a map full of options. Working on the new versus revising the abandoned is the main conflict here. The new is exciting, but eventually, I must run back to adjust the manuscript from the editor, putting the project on hold. The old may have possibilities, they could be rescued, but they were left behind for a reason – they were either bad or boring – could they be fixed?
It is a conundrum. Pick one thing to do or juggle multiple projects?
I know I’m babbling here, partially because my teacup had been substituted with a wine glass – Vino Blanco from Joseph Filippi Winery – partially because I want to do everything. I know if I take on too much the writing will suffer. Perhaps I should focus on those pesky query letters and as well as read my research for the next novel, Sally of Terra Linda. But, April is Camp NaNoWriMo! Dang it, there’s another direction I could go.
So while I bang my head against the wall trying to figure it out, here’s a scene from The Princess of Sweetwater:
At the Oakland train station, Fernando led them to the train platform.
“Our car is the last one,” he said. “Yes, there it is. They are getting our trunks loaded. Let’s get on board.”
He helped the ladies climb the steps.
Once on board their private Pullman car, Princess Victoria removed her cloak and laid it on the settee. “Excuse me, I think I’ll freshen up.”
“Please, Your Highness,” Countess Josephine whispered. “May I go first?”
“Of course.” The princess smiled.
“The train should depart shortly.” Fernando checked his watch. “We just need our staff to arrive.”
Princess Victoria paced the parlor and rung her hands. She hoped the train wouldn’t depart before she had a chance to try for the service door at the opposite end of the car.
When Countess Josephine returned, Princess Victoria moved toward the lavatory.
“Anna, accompany Her Highness.” Fernando propped the parlor door open giving him a clear view of the corridor.
“Pardon me, sir?” Two uniformed railway staff boarded the car, blocking Anna’s path. “I’m Jordan, your steward, and Philips will be your chef.”
Princess Victoria continued toward the lavatory at the end of the car, silently thanking the railroad staff for the distraction. She stopped, her hand on the lip of the open service door, her heart pounding like a sledgehammer on steel. The train whistle blew, she held her breath for a moment. With a final look over her shoulder, she slipped from the train and pushed the door closed.
A station attendant stopped her. “Miss, you need to re-board. The train is departing.”
“It is the wrong train,” she said, ducking into the depot as the train began to move.
The train would be several miles down the track before they realized she hadn’t returned.
Until next time . . .
The door is always open, and the kettle is always on.