Endings and Beginnings; Coping with Transitions

2014-03-19 17.48.13Scene map for TIME AND TITHE, per character

This week I finished the first draft of TIME AND TITHE, the book that will be my first ever sequel. When I started THE BETWEEN, I had no idea that the story would continue beyond the ending of the novel and had done absolutely no planning for it. Perhaps I can be forgiven, since the story does stand on its own, and since I began THE BETWEEN when I was a less experienced writer, in 2009.

These days, I typically finish a first draft of a new project in anywhere from four to six months. TIME AND TITHE took twice as long as I had anticipated, finishing at the ten month mark. What I discovered is writing something from scratch is much, much simpler than writing a sequel, especially if one hasn’t done any preparation. The ending of the story was especially a challenge because not only did I need to tie the events of this story together, I had to do it in a way that didn’t break trust with the events of the first book.


But it’s done and the story now enters its resting phase before I dive back in for revisions and edits.

And since that all-consuming project is ended, I’m in a kind of limbo – the space after the ending, but before the beginning. I know I will be starting to draft the next book in the DERELICT universe (I’m in the brainstorming/outlining phase), but I’m not quite ready to dive in. This is a huge time of transition for me, and I don’t do well with change. As of today, I have five scant days until my youngest starts college and I will be officially an ’empty nester’.  [Deep breath]

It would have been better for me had I already been up to my eyeballs in writing the new, shiny thing, but with everything shifting at the same time, I don’t know where to begin.

Maybe it’s just as well that I give myself these days to transition. After all, this is back-to-school time, writ large, as both my sons will be in college. Since I no longer need to brave Staples for the kids’ back to school supplies, maybe I should take a trip there for myself and gear up for my own new writing year.

I have always considered the fall to be the opening of the year. It’s hard not to when nearly every year of one’s life has begun in September.  While I had several years between the end of graduate school and the beginning of my first child’s school career, it was a very short hiatus compared with the number of Septembers where I started something new.

Another way I’m hoping to jump start my writing life is with a weekend writing retreat I’ve signed up for in mid-September. Perhaps with a few days in a supportive writing environment, I’ll find what I need to get over the fear of starting new again.

Because that’s what it comes down to for me – fear of change.

How do you deal with transitions? If you’re one of the lucky ones that doesn’t struggle with transitions, please don’t tell me, because I will be well and truly envious.

LJ Cohen

LJ Cohen is the writing persona of Lisa Janice Cohen, poet, novelist, blogger, local food enthusiast, Doctor Who fan, reading omnivore, and relentless optimist. Lisa lives just outside of Boston with her family, two dogs (only one of which actually ever listens to her) and the occasional international student. In love with words since early childhood, Lisa filled dozens of notebooks with her scribbles long before there were such a thing as word processors.

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1 Comment

  1. I think once I’m “in” the transition, it becomes easy for me. But before a major transition, I have days (weeks? months?) of anxiety. Not the panicking kind, but the “what will happen, what ifs” wondering kind. Once it happens, it’s kind of a relief. The waiting tends to be the hardest part!

    I’m excited to see your next installment!


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