I must admit I had no idea what the word “lacuna” meant until Barbara Kingsolver released a novel by that name in 2010. Since then, I’ve found plenty of occasion to use it. The dictionary definition of lacuna is “an unfilled space or interval; a gap.”
The writing process is full of lacunas. (Lacunae?)
I find myself in the lacuna most often when I’m waiting for feedback on a project. Once I’ve finished a complete draft of a new novel and sent it off to my agent or my editor, I might have a wait of months until it comes back. Working on the book itself while that kind of feedback is pending isn’t a great idea; I might spend hours polishing scenes that later need to be deleted, or get deeply attached to sentences that have no place in the book. And I must admit, by that point in the process, I’m not even that tempted to work on something I’ve been hammering away at daily. I need time away from it so that I can come back with fresh eyes later on.
So what do you do in the lacuna? Besides remind your family what you look like and possibly re-organize your garage? How do you keep writing when you shouldn’t be writing the book you’re currently writing? Here are three ways.
Start the next book. Yep, this is the easiest answer, right? Even if you’re not ready to jump into full prose, this is a great time for brainstorming, character development, research, and all that other good stuff. The temptation for cheating on your current project with your next project is always great. Books that aren’t written generally feel superior to those that are, since you haven’t had the frustration of putting them on the page yet. Maybe writing that new book will make it more real. You don’t have to write a complete draft, and probably you shouldn’t, but you can do a lot of the important thinking that lays the groundwork for an easier process down the line. [Read more…]