I suppose I have known for a long time that I have to use my voice in order to find peace among so many other voices clamoring for my attention. I speak not only of the political cacophony, nor of the mild buzz of dailiness, but also of the haunting voices from my dark places. If I do not sing for a few days or write for a few days, I begin to feel as though I am going mad. This week I have had laryngitis. On Sunday night, I completed another round of edits. You see where this is going?

I tried to write a bit on Tuesday, but the story is not yet ripe. I still wrote the first 1,200 words, but they are going to sit on the window sill for awhile. They are not part of the story I must tell urgently; they are the beginnings of a story for later. Last night I took an hour and typed myself into the middle of the story that has grown ripe while I was not looking. It’s a hard story for me to write, but I’m also very glad to get to bring the characters through their trials. Six months ago, it was the story I that had 1,,200 words and an out of the way space to collect itself.

I seem to work best this way, with several projects on rotation. I finish them one at a time, letting them take over when they are due to be born. But they never like to be alone, quite, in my mind. The characters wave to one another as they pass, some onto pages, some on their daily quest to show me something that I need to see. Eventually, most of them will mingle on bookshelves.

Here is where I stand today, in terms of works in progress:

1 book to be published, being polished

1 book in the active first stages of writing. I know the plot in the broadest sense, but the characters will show me what happens step by step. However, all of the characters are vibrant, ready to go on paper.

1 book nearly completed, in manuscript. I will likely finish it in November and type it into the computer as an Advent discipline. It’s the first of three in a series, and the incredible complexity cautions me to take my time.

2 books largely plotted, but hardly written. One of them may lay dormant for quite some time but the other shines like my next spring project. When the secondary characters come into focus, it will be time to take it up again.

1 completely epic story that I’m writing in collaboration with my husband. I expect it to take a couple of years so we can complete a great deal of research and so I have time to write it. I expect it to be around 500 pages long.

1 hodge podge collection of essays, waiting to be made into a memoir. I may not want to share it for a long while yet.

That’s a round seven. Most likely, I will tackle them like I read books. One in the forefront, one in the final stages, several on the side.

What about you? What is your pattern for completing works in progress?