Posted in Justine, Word Count, Writing

ROW80 Update

I hate to do this so many times to the same project, but I’m really feeling I need to put Justine Grown Up on hiatus yet again. I’ve already taken two breaks from it, and I began it last November (not for NaNoWriMo). It feels ridiculous that it’s taking this long to finish one book that’s not even that long (by my adult book standards, anyway).

It’s currently up to a bit over 114,000 words, and into the long middle section between Justine and David’s reconnection that blossoms into romance and the turning-point several years later, when Justine’s nieces become Duranies and set in motion the dramatic ending. I have a tentative table of contents outline, and know what happens in each chapter, but it’s just not coming easily most of the time.

I never just put a book on hiatus, or have trouble writing the next book in a series. The only times I’ve put something on hiatus, with full intent to come back, have been when I’ve lost access to a manuscript for awhile. Like, the files were held hostage on obsolete file formats on disks, or on another computer, or in a notebook I didn’t have on my person. (My parents sometimes took my writing away from me to punish me, and I often had to sneak writing on the computer and printing when they were out of the house, or wrote in secret at school.)

It’s doubly-frustrating because I also put the second book in this family saga on hiatus and haven’t gone back yet. I felt I’d have more fire and passion for the third book, focused on Justine, because that had been the story I’d had more of a clear outline of and had wanted to write first. I’d never planned to turn Little Ragdoll into another family saga, but I just felt I couldn’t say goodbye to these people forever after only one book. I missed them already as I was finishing the first book.

I’m feeling most drawn to getting down to it and starting my third Russian novel already. It’s begging to come out of me after so many years of being bottled up inside. I really feel this book will write me instead of me writing it, just as the first two Russian novels were. And I can’t wait to write about all these dramatic, tumultuous events, both personal and political, of the Age of Anxiety and World War II.

When I’m really feeling a story, it flows out of me. I’ve always felt this way about my Atlantic City books, except for a few isolated periods of breaking or writer’s block. When I began the arduous process of editing, revising, rewriting, and polishing my Russian novel last spring, the characters and stories came right back to me, and I wrote the sequel as though they’d never been away from me for a decade. When I was expanding Jakob’s story into a full novel that ended up needing a second volume, those combined 225,000ish words flew right out of me.

I don’t know why it’s been so hard with my contemporary historical family saga, particularly since I really do want to write about these people’s lives. Maybe it’s just that I don’t have that kind of long history with them, or that much of the storylines are so quiet and domestic after the intensity of Little Ragdoll.


Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

6 thoughts on “ROW80 Update

  1. Some things just come when they’re cooked. I got stuck with “Unleashing Your Creative Spirit” for two years. I had so many ideas, I didn’t know how to move forward. Then one day, I put all the parts on index cards, shuffled them around and it fell into place and was written.

    Some books wait years, but work out all the better for it in the end. Listen to what your subconscious mind is telling you and never feel guilty. It’s all part of the process.

    I hope this comment helps in some way.


  2. I agree with Cate. If you’re still struggling with this one after 114K in words, it’s begging to be put on hiatus for a while. It will let you know when it’s read for you. 🙂


  3. First of all I disagree that the book isn’t that long. It’s 114K and still isn’t finished? To me, that’s a long book. LOL. Anyway, you should probably listen to your instincts. If another book is calling to you, and this one isn’t, maybe it’s a good idea to put it aside and work on the one that you’re feeling right now.


  4. I have to agree with Lauralynn, 114K and still going is long. But long doesn’t mean wrong. I think it’s okay to put a book on hiatus, or even just a temporary deep freeze. My novel is in deep freeze for a month or so because I want it to ‘get cold’ as my English teachers would put it. When it’s cold you can see more clearly the errors and plot holes because the vision in your head isn’t as clear as it once was. Plus I think time away gives you a chance to be creative in other ways and then any problems you might have (for me it’s figuring out the ending) might be better solved after you’ve had a break.


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