i miss jade henry

After I finished NaNoWriMo this year, I set a goal to take a small break from writing. No more until 2012! I know. Seems drastic, right? It only sounds that way because 2012 is a freakishly large number (can you believe it’s already almost 2012???!?) Really, my break was only for one lousy month. December. 31 days. Not too long, right?

I worked really hard to complete Jaded this year. Then, I chose to become certifiably insane begin an entire new project during NaNoWriMo in November—58,735 words, to be exact. Conclusion? I. Wrote. A. Lot. Why not take one month off and come back in 2012 (seriously, isn’t the world supposed to end in 2012?) with a fresh pair of eyes? I’ve heard from so many other writers about how good it is to sometimes take a step back before editing or evaluating your work—to separate yourself from your writing in order to figure out how to make it better. Plus, I had already sent Jaded off to my beta readers to scrutinize and judge during the months of November & December. So, really, I found myself at a natural stopping point while I waited on that much needed feedback before making my final edits and diving headfirst into querying literary agents—AKA, crazy-depressing-land-full-of-rejection-letters (don’t yell, I’m being realistic, here).

As December draws to an end and the New Year sneaks up on me (seriously, it came out of NOWHERE), I’m finding it harder and harder to stick to my goal of enjoying this little ole thing called a writing break. More so with Jaded than Ugly Parts, which is most likely because I’ve only spent a quick 30 days with my NaNoWriMo manuscript. In case you’re unaware, I’ve been working on Jade Henry’s story, on and off, for approximately four years. I started in the fall of 2007 and while I took many long sabbaticals—often stepping away from it for months and months at a time while I figured out if I really wanted to be a writer—that’s still quite a significant chunk of time to spend on one story. And now? Almost a month removed from it?

miss it.

I miss Jaded. I miss Jade Henry. I created her and her world and her feelings and I’ve come to know her inside and out, better even than I probably know myself. She has so much of me in her that I sometimes forget where her fictional life ends and my real one begins. When I talk about her with my friends and beta readers, I speak of her by name. Jade did this. Jade did that. Jade thought this about that. I discuss her like she’s a real person and not just some fictitious character I conjured up and happened to write about. Because for me, she is real. I’m invested. 100%.

I’ve discovered that taking an intentional month off from her is far different from all those months I merely stepped away mid-novel with every intention of coming back and finishing. My hand is itching to type about her again. I keep finding my mouse hovering over that rough draft file that’s hidden away in my computer, ready to double-click and open it up to get my fix. BUT I promised myself I wouldn’t!

So, I haven’t. I’ve kept my word, despite the many many MANY unholy temptations to do otherwise. Even as that aforementioned feedback begins trickling in from my beta readers, I have yet to double-click on that rough draft file. I’ve left it to collect its imaginary computer dust until the start of 2012. And, as I’m writing this, I’m starting to think this whole break is going to turn out as a good thing.

All this anticipation has me excited. I’m terrified excited to start querying agents for representation. I’m excited to begin my journey of getting Jaded published and somehow on that Discover Great New Writers bookshelf at my local Barnes & Noble (I’ll even settle for the normal, alphabetical fiction shelf). This waiting has me excited for 2012.

So, for all those crazies professing the world is going to end in 2012 because some ancient civilization forgot to include it on their calendar…well, I hope to God you’re all wrong. I’m betting the Mayans either couldn’t count that high or were just too lazy to do so. Because I’m not going anywhere until I see Jaded on a real, actual, physical bookshelf somewhere.

Somewhere other than in my own house would be even better.

– lindsey archer

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