Time in the Drawer

Okay, so I’ve been a little dormant.

I once read an article by Jamaica Kincaid about gardening in which she granted full permission to shrug and say, “It’s August,” when a patch went untended toward the end of the season. I will apply that broadly here: It’s summer.

In addition to enjoying a fab vacation, one thing I’ve been doing lately is thinking. I’m doing a number of articles and interviews in advance of the September release of my debut novel, WATER BALLOON. I’ve been asked a lot of thoughtful questions that have forced me to delve into my process, something I am reluctant to do when not forced.

I have written two full novels, with one false start on another. And I’m about to start work on what I expect will be my third completed novel.

One can’t call something that happened once her process, but I suspect there is something to be learned from my own past. After my first novel went out on submission and was rejected as “too quiet,” the kind of thing that wouldn’t stand out on a list, it went in a drawer. I worked on a second novel. And when it was time to really, really work on that second novel, I put it in that drawer and pulled out the first one.

I have writer-friends who will relate to this. Some of us want nothing more than to work on anything other than what we should be working on. In this case, it worked out. That first novel is WATER BALLOON. I worked on it enough that it sold. That still seems kind of miraculous and impossibly fabulous to me.

Part of me is yearning to work on that second novel instead of starting a third one. But I won’t. I’m thinking that time spent in the drawer is part of my process. Which is frightening and bad news, as I’m horribly impatient.

I hear you laughing. I picked a stupid profession if I’m impatient. The rate at which things happen in publishing is too slow to measure on even the most sensitive and finely-tuned rate-measuring scale.

I very much hope this new novel does not need years in the drawer, as the first one did.

But I bet it will.

Which is why I’m trying to convince myself that a drawer can’t be expected to hold two manuscripts. If that third novel goes in, the second one must come out. And so it goes.

About Audrey Vernick

Audrey Vernick writes books for young readers.
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5 Responses to Time in the Drawer

  1. Pingback: Three Thousand « She Loved Baseball

  2. Mary Z says:

    Hi Audrey,
    Is there a brief way to describe how your novel went from “quiet” to sold?
    Since I’m writing my first middle grade novel, I’m looking forward to reading yours. Congrats!

  3. Well, this will sound unnecessarily coy, but I’m trying to answer that question in an article I’m writing for Hunger Mountain. A brief description tends to sound like a gross statement of the obvious (play up the less quiet parts!). I’ll try to remember to link to the article once it’s up. (And if you don’t know Hunger Mountain, check it out here: http://www.hungermtn.org/young-adults-and-childrens-literature/

  4. Mary Z says:

    Yeah, I thought maybe you killed the parents, or giant alien water balloons attacked the town. I hope you do link your article and thanks for the link to hunger mountain. I wasn’t aware of it.

  5. Audrey, what a lovely post. Is that your garden and home? Oh, wow. I like that wildness!
    Time spent in a drawer IS part of the process for the rough, wild draft. I’m going to think about that for a bit, and figure out why…Thanks for this provocative post! xo

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