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Emilie Collyer, who had an awesome piece in the latest Torpedo, has a creative, thoughtful and immediate kind of blog, between the cracks

- Literary Minded


The Waiting Space

That scratchy place between one project and the next

I have just finished a new draft of big play and now need to let it settle until a workshop later in the year.

A novel manuscript is out in the world, a few agents reading it, I’ve no idea what they will think.

Got a short story rejection this morning after a few small wins. A reminder of that sting, oh yeah it’s not good enough, you’re not good enough.

For the first time in a long time I am not ‘mid’ a few big projects. I am waiting to see what will happen with them in the outside world.

I am not a waiter by nature.

This is probably why I write in so many forms and work on several things at once.

Right now I know I am at the start of a big new phase of work.

Ideas are scurrying inside my mind. I wrote each one down on a piece of orange paper the other night and laid them on my lounge room floor. Four potential novel ideas. Five new play ideas. Which to start on? Which has the pull? What should I consider? Having been in end-game mode on a novel and a play for a while now (into the polishing, the sending, the pitching, the re-drafting, the interfacing with the industry) I now feel stunted.


Can I just start a new project for the joy of it? Or do I need to plan now where it might fit, who might want it, where it sits within my bigger body of work. Which sub-sector of the publishing world or the theatre industry do I want to nudge towards?

Or should I just start and try to defer all those thoughts until later?

It feels like I imagine a phantom limb might. Something is bugging me, needs my attention, wants to be scratched but I don’t know what it is.

I feel distracted and incompetent and aware of the huge mountain of starting a few major new projects.

I feel like I don’t have the skills to make up anything new.

I don’t feel whole.

I know enough from experience to know that this itchiness, this discomfort is an important part of the process for me. It’s little things germinating but none solid enough yet to feel how they might grow.

So I tinker with old short stories, write notes about new characters popping into my head, start folders for projects that don’t yet exist.

It’s a kind of waiting but I fill it with activity.

I'm thinking, obsessing, over the best name for a new character, the best title for a non-existent new piece. I think while eating, while walking, while watching theatre, while working.

But it's not ready, yet, any of it, to really start writing.

I read a lot.

And sometimes I just wander around the house. Aimless. Restless. Not able to settle. Study. Kitchen. Lounge. Check the mail.

Aware that things will start to take shape, fall into place. Some of the seeds will sprout and I’ll know, soonish, which ones to nurture and move ahead with.

Until then, the prowl of the in-between writer. Vaguely scratching at thin air, waiting for clouds to form a picture, a mirage to firm up into view, the mountain to form so I can take the first step.

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