What’s Next?

The writers sit around a kitchen table. There are four of us and we take turns hosting. The host provides breakfast and then we get to work. We are all novelists and have been together for 7 or 8 years. In that time, all our members have published, most of us several times over. And as Bob remarked at Saturday mornings’ meeting, we’ve all become better writers in the process.

Luck played a part in the four of us coming together, because we each have different strengths. It’s helpful that we are two women and two men. Also helpful that our spouses all encourage us in our meetings. Indeed, Tom at one point was working long hours, didn’t have much time to write, and considered quitting the group. His wife would not allow it, telling him he needed us. We are grateful because we need him too.

We have a routine with the coffee and chat at 9 am, then breakfast, then work (we go through a chapter or scene received a week prior page by page). After we’ve finished the critiques, which include side discussions of plot or other big picture things, it’s noon or later. This past Saturday we got into a writerly conversation after the critiques. Basically we went around the table with the question “What’s next?”

When we started only Bob was retired, now everybody is except Tom. We write books, yes, but that’s our pleasure. We are doing what we couldn’t wait to get to. But things have changed through the years and we’re each facing new challenges. Vernie is on the last of her four book fantasy series and she’s near the end. Tom has begun a promising novella, but work stops him from writing as much as he’d like. Still, with each session, he moves the plot forward an inch. Bob is revising an old manuscript we’ve all read before, and I’m revising my St Pete novel. None of have any idea of what we’ll do next.

I know a few things. 2019 will be the last year I’m able to meet regularly with my group. In 2020, Al and I hope to spend six months in Florida and travel, too. We have two houses: one too big and one too small. So we’ll be looking to sell both and buy something just right.To my surprise, I am fine with ending my book writing career, if it proves too difficult to continue in this next chapter of real life. Writing a novel takes several hours a day for several months in a quiet place. I’m not sure I’ll have that when Al retires. He’s worked at the same place for 47 years, so retirement will be a big adjustment for him, too.

I’ve been writing novels for a long time too. Several practice novels and then the published ones. I feel like it’s okay to stop now. I’ve written my share of books. If I include my poetry chapbook and the writing manual, plus this novel I’m going to polish before Al retires, it will be an even dozen. I’m satisfied, ready to move onto the next chapter of my real life. I know writing will always be there, even novel writing, if I want it. I plan to keep blogging and the website will be here. I may write flash fiction and just publish on the website. That’s my idea for “what’s next?” right now.

Anything can happen, and it will. Life is an adventure. Everything I think I know, every plan I ever make, shifts in some ways before it ends. Adventures, like novels, are always unpredictable. That’s the fun of it all.


    1. Thanks Cheryl. Maybe I will just take a few years off to travel & enjoy my husband & family. It’s hard to be a writer & maintain friendships, because writing novels requires so much consistent time alone. Maybe I’ll see more of the friends I do have. Those friendships have endured because they understand a writer’s life. Maybe I’ll take a year or two off and get tons of ideas and be chomping at the bit to get back to the writing game. Maybe (least likely of all) this “final for now” novel will be a bestseller and some fancy publisher will offer me a ton of money to make it a series. 🙂 I would do that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, sometimes we just don’t know what’s next until we do something different and give a little space for creation. And what does it hurt to dream/hope/wish a little? I wish the best for you and your writing in whatever way it manifests.


  1. Good for you, for having the courage to make this decision instead of struggling on with something when your heart is maybe not in it – you’ve decided it’s no longer for you, that it was something you did then but don’t want to do anymore. Self-awareness is a great thing!!! You can only write novels if you really, really want to, you’re so right – it’s why I had a gap of 9 years at one time. My life went in a different direction. You may come back to it one day, who knows?!


  2. I love a woman with a plan! I’ve never had a plan like that and think it’s great you are thinking so far ahead. You’re flexible, too, leaving options open. Those things must contribute to your success as a writer. I’m glad you will continue to write here so we can follow your adventures.


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