I Have Something for You

By the time I finish writing a novel, I have a very organized, fluid piece of work. Sometimes I forget that the process itself at one time included Post-It notes covering my desk or that I’d written a particular scene with absolutely no idea why.

You don’t yet have a copy of Slow Burn (believe me when I tell you I’m so ready to share that with you), but as I let the energy coalesce for the publication of that project, I’m getting deeper and deeper into my fourth book. I’m just 55,000 words in, far enough to have an idea of what’s going to happen, but not so far that I know all the details.

In a way, I feel a bit like a voyeur. Or perhaps just like you: a reader, not exactly sure what’s going to happen next.

In this fourth novel, Brice–who you’ll meet in Slow Burn–pays a visit to James. I had no intention of including Brice in this book, not even cursorily. I certainly didn’t expect him to make a trip to Chicago. Then one day when I was writing a totally different scene I found myself scribbling on a piece of paper, what if Brice came to Chicago? The thought felt impish. For weeks I smiled every time I stumbled across the note.

I’ve mentioned that I’m all over the place when I write. Sometimes the first scene I write comes at the end of the novel. Sometimes I write half a scene and leave it for months. If you scrolled through my current rough draft you’d be absolutely, thoroughly confused by the chronology. With this book, I don’t even have an idea of what I’m going to write until I open my laptop. In the past I’ve sat down with at least something in my head. Not this time.

Last week I glanced at my notes. What if Brice came to Chicago? That seemed like a fun, drama-ridden place to start for the day. So I wrote, delighting in the interaction between James and Brice until Brice said to James, “I have something for you.”

Um… what? What could Brice possibly have for James? I know the story, right? I’m the author! I was fascinated.

I played with that scene last week into yesterday, switching narrators at one point and getting Adam’s take, too. I still had no clue what Brice had for James.

In a yoga pose yesterday afternoon I got the answer, something so perfect I had to laugh. So that’s why I’d written those scenes last month about a stupid Facebook survey.

I’m being cryptic, but I assure you. This is all coming together more magically than I could ever orchestrate on my own. Joel and James and Adam don’t disappoint. I suppose that’s why I keep coming back to them.

Copyright © 2018 Jennifer Hritz All Rights Reserved

Even Then I Was Working

I learned early on that some of my best work came to me when I was doing absolutely nothing. Adam never understood. I could see the irritation in his expression when he’d come home from work and find me on one of the pool loungers, my eyes shut and my skin dark. But I was always working. Even then I was working.

These words come from Slow Burn, and they belong—as you might have guessed, if you’re familiar with my fiction—to Joel. I’m appropriating them today to explain why I’ve been so quiet lately: on this blog, on my Facebook author page, on Twitter, on Instagram.

I’ve told you before that I feel a dip in between books. Finishing Slow Burn was no exception. I know what’s coming in the next novel; I’ve already written almost one hundred pages. Given that those scenes were planned for Slow Burn, I assumed I’d move effortlessly from one book to the other. Instead I’ve taken a break, what started out as a two-week hiatus sometime last spring and stretched across the entire summer, most of which I spent sitting on my settee, watching the birds in my birdbath. Every so often I’d feel a wisp of breath from the Muse. Then I’d look out my window again.

I knew I was cultivating something anyway, something I couldn’t yet see.

That’s Joel again, talking about a pause in his painting in the summer of 2007. Without that pause, Slow Burn wouldn’t unfold in the same way. Joel’s art would take a different turn. So would his relationship with James. His entire life would change if he put those months to a different purpose.

Of course, in the end you might wish that Joel had never taken time off.

For my part, I appreciate the time I’ve spent on my settee. Even if I haven’t been sitting with an open laptop or posting on Instagram, I know I’ve been working.

Now comes the fun part.

Copyright © Jennifer Hritz All Rights Reserved