Juggling Balls

By Dan Forrester

I’ve never been able to juggle. It seemed safer to leave it to those who saw the point, while I could get on with more productive things. Things that would be less likely to cause accidents at home. Now I wish I’d learned.

As 2020 came to a close, my writing projects were looking very organised. Nice and neat. Two novels completed, and the opening chapter of the third novel down. I was awaiting a manuscript assessment for the first novel which, naturally, would confirm how great it was. Couple of tweaks, perhaps, but nothing major. All set for an ease-in to 2021.

The plan was to submit my second novel to agents in January, once the deluge of NaNoWriMo submissions had subsided, and would submit the first again once I had addressed those minor edits. Meanwhile, I could get on with drafting the third. Easy.

Or not. The manuscript assessment for my first novel arrived just after Christmas, and, as you will have gathered by now, suggested a lot more rewriting than I had expected. The editor clearly hadn’t read the memo.

As I set to it, my third novel niggled at the back of my mind. It was new and exciting; I had done all the prep and got those difficult first pages down, sending in the vanguard to vanquish those scary white pages. I was impatient to see it develop.

But there was also the second novel, languishing in my ‘Completed – Wow, You Really Are Amazing’ folder. I wanted to submit to agents, but researching and preparing submissions takes time. Time I couldn’t seem to find.

For the first time on my writing journey, I had a small glimpse of what it must be like to be a traditionally published author. Deadlines competing with deadlines. Editing, researching, planning; juggling those balls. 

And amidst all that, the plot I had planned for my third novel was busy changing beyond recognition. I took my eye off it for five minutes, left it simmering away in a quiet corner of my brain, and it decided to jump genre. But the idea is better; the plot and characters are stronger. It is back to planning, but I am more excited than ever to see where it goes.

There is work to do on the first novel, and I have had valuable support from the writing group, but the second is now out there, raising a hand for attention from the slush piles.

So, my goals for 2021? Hook an agent for my first two novels and finish the third so it is ready to join them. Then onto planning the fourth…

Oh, and learn to juggle. Possibly.

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