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Guest Post: After the Novel: Re-Finding Your Writing Groove by Áine Greaney

Yesterday, I reviewed Áine Greaney‘s Dance Lessons, which is a phenomenal story about the secrets families keep and how forgiveness can transcend the grave.  Part mystery and part romance and family drama, the story follows Ellen Boisvert as she uncovers her husband’s past.  Today, Áine Greaney has graciously offered to talk about her writing space and the time between a finished novel and the next one or the next project.

After the Novel:  Re-Finding Your Writing Groove

My second novel, DANCE LESSONS, took me seven years to write. During the early years, I worked on that book in spurts. There were entire weeks and months when I abandoned it altogether, when I let the book’s women characters slip from my mind.   Jo? Jo who?

Interruptions, they say, are not what distract us from life. They are life. During my seven-year book process, there were urgent trips back to my family in Ireland. There was a day job to go to.  There was a house move. There were other deadlines to meet.

Eventually, in fits and starts, I whipped and whittled that book into shape.

During those final edits and re-writes, my women characters moved in to live in my head and house. At night I dreamed about Jo Dowd, the book’s 84-year-old Irish character.   When I went out for a walk, I tramped along with Ellen Boisvert, the book’s 39-year-old American widow.  Once, as I panted my way through a workout at a local gym, one of the staff smirked at me and said, “You’re grinning again. That means you’re thinking about that teenage character of yours. I can tell.”

The gym woman was right. I was thinking about 14-year-old Cat and her hip-hop dance lessons.

Last April, 2011, I stood in my local Indie bookstore with almost 140 people (I have good friends) at my book’s launch party. For the next month, I read about my book and myself in blog posts and articles. At a fundraiser dinner one night, a woman crossed the room to tell me why she personally had it in for Jo, my Mommy Dearest old-lady character.

And then?  The summer of quiet.

It’s been four months since the release of my novel.  During the four months, the national bestseller lists have changed, then changed again (and again). The titles and rankings have flipped and clacked like that T.V. advertisement for the price slashers at Wal-Mart.  In maternity wards across America, new babies have been born. In chapels and homes and hospice facilities, people have bade a final goodbye to people they loved.

In other words, the world doesn’t stop or change because you write a novel.

A month after the release of DANCE LESSONS, an inner voice urged me to get off the poseur podium and get to work on the (gulp!) next writing project.

So I’ve started two new projects: a third novel; and a fledgling creative non-fiction (a memoir?) book.  Thing is, I find myself working on both of my new projects in scattered, hand-written drafts.  I oscillate between loving my new ideas and hating them.

They both terrify me, especially the non-fiction project.

I’m impatient with my disorganized, scattered process.  A no-nonsense voice tells me to sit up straight at my desk and focus. “Stop scribbling and start typing,” says that strident voice. “And for God’s sake get the cat off the table.”

But it’s not time. Not yet.

Thanks, Áine, for sharing with us your writing space and the time of refocus following that published novel.  I love that she writes her novels in long hand, or at least her notes, and that red wall I spy is my favorite!

  • Jennifer

    I love reading about authors’ writing processes. I find it amazing that what might work for one person cannot possibly ever work for another person. And then I try and picture myself emulating some of my favorite authors — maybe if I try to adhere to their regimen then I can create a wonderful piece of literature worth of a piece of the praise that they receive.

    Wonderful post and I’m so glad that I got to read it!

    • I have tried to use some of the routines other writers use and it often doesn’t work for me. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  • I loved this guest post — beautifully written and humorous. The bit about Greaney grinning at the gym cracked me up! Hilarious and awesome! A cat lover myself, I also appreciated the kitty pic — adorable. Thanks to both Aine and Serena for the lovely post!

    • I loved this guest post. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  • Thanks so much, Serena, for this opportunity. I had so much fun writing this guest post–it also kind of justified my procrastination in writing new material.

    Oh, my cat Harry *will* be the proud little Moggy when he hears your compliments on him. This wasn’t a set-up photo, either. When I get up for more tea or whatever, he just *loves* to roll my pen off the edge of the table–and/or plonk himself right down in the very spot where I’m reading or writing. On this particular day, he actually looked like he was writing, so I had to snap that photo.

    Of course, I did sneak him into the very end of the novel, too … had to.

    Thanks for all your kind words. It encourages me to get back at it.

    • You are welcome. I have nominated your novel for an literary fiction indie lit award, and I think Anna did as well. I’m glad we’ve encouraged you to return to your novel. Keep up the great work.

  • Talk about perseverance! I think that’s probably why I’ll never be an author. I love the kitty too!

    • I wonder if it gets easier to write books after the first ones. Maybe there is less lag time between communication with those muses. LOL

  • Beth Hoffman

    What a fun guest post. I so related to the comments regarding final edits. And I adore that kitty!

    • I haven’t finished my novel, so final edits are way off for me at this point. I do love that kitty. Lots of writers seem to have cats rather than dogs…I must be odd.

  • Whatever her process, she has the right idea because I loved Dance Lessons! I can see how it could be difficult to write with a cat on the table. 😉

    • I loved that cat on the table. LOL cats always find the most inconvenient places to lay down.