Starting again…

I was shopping at Multiple Organics today, my favourite local grocery store. I saw a couple of friends and we chatted about writing. One asked me how Novel #2 is going, and I replied, “Still tinkering”.

This past week, I completed revision #10, fixing typos, adding description, cleaning up prose. I told her this and she ordered me to stop. Put it aside. Leave it alone for now. Start something new. “There will be time for more revisions when you work with an editor,” she persisted.

I remember when I was in this place with Stealing Nasreen, back in 2006. I had sent out multiple submissions, created a new ending, and continued with edits. Then one day, it was time to move on. I don’t why it happened that day, and can’t recall how I started, but I did start  New Skin (which at the time, I was calling “Mistake”). It was strange starting fresh, getting to know my characters, finding out who there were and what they’d do. I watched the page count grow.

Half-way into New Skin’s first draft, a book deal for Stealing Nasreen arrived and I put New Skin aside, at the publisher’s recommendation–I had revisions for the first novel to focus on and needed not to be distracted by the second. Somewhat sadly, I said farewell to Ismail and Celia of New Skin and got reacquainted with Nasreen, Salma and Shaffiq. 

Then, a few weeks after Stealing Nasreen‘s release, I turned back to New Skin. At this point I felt polyamourous; I was talking about Nasreen at book launches, while further developing Celia. I was answering questions about Shaffiq, and writing dialogue for Ismail. This busy ‘intimate life’ has continued for the last year and a half. Add to this the further complexity of a brand new relationship with four strangers who have been visiting my imagination over the last couple of months–characters from novel #3. I’m still not sure who they are, but they won’t be ignored. 

Today, after listening to my friend’s wise words, I am putting aside New Skin. I’ve just sent the manuscript to an agent, and will wait. I know I’ll return to it again, when the time for edits comes.

Meanwhile, I have a date with four new friends…

A new year…

Happy New Year! Do you have resolutions, dreams, hopes for this year? Mine include finding an agent and publisher for my second novel which feels almost done (I say almost, because each re-read brings more revisions, and I am currently on revision #9).

Meanwhile, I continue to promote Stealing Nasreen, which included a fabulous trip to San Francisco last week, where I read at the South Asian Literature Association conference.  I shared the reading space with a dozen other talented writers including Minal Hajratwala and Mary-Anne Mohanraj.

 Coming up, I have a couple of book club meetings in January and February to attend. I love book club members’ comments and questions–they often reveal things about my writing I hadn’t previously considered. Their deep engagement with the novel is a bit like what I encountered from my early readers–people who vetted the novel before it was published and offered insightful feedback. Remember: if you are part of a book club, consider inviting me–I’ll probably come!