Laura Best, juggler

I’m going to take up juggling. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, but haven’t made any attempts so far. Today might be the day. Make that tomorrow or the next day. Well, one of these days. I promise.

So, I’m dragging my heels. Big deal. There is a good reason. The truth is, I’m not quite sure I’m capable of juggling, but after this weekend I’m willing to give it a shot.

So what happened this weekend?

I asked a question on facebook.

How many of you have worked on two books at the same time?

Almost immediately I began to hear from published authors. Most of them admitted to juggling manuscripts. One author said she had four manuscripts on the go in various stages of completion. Most all of the jugglers writers who commented said their books were also at different stages.

Author, Elaine McCluskey said :” I like to have more than one thing on the go at one time. If I am working on a novel, I like to still write short stories. If a story is then published in a journal, I feel as though I have accomplished something immediate. This practice also keeps me from putting irrelevant material in the novel…(ideas, insights, anecdotes). They can go in a story. Everyone works differently…”

Lately, I’ve been toying with two book ideas, trying to decide which one I wanted to devote my time to, and which one could wait. The problem with waiting is that the enthusiasm I first feel when an idea is forming might fizzle away and that other story might never get written.

I admit I like beginnings. Beginnings are exciting. Beginnings are challenging. Beginnings are a love affair with those first strands of inspiration that makes your heart quicken. Sometimes I can scarcely wait to get started. Perhaps this is why I love writing short stories. So many beginnings.

Come to think of it, I used to juggle short stories all the time. It was nothing for me to be working on several, jumping back and forth, weaving my way in and out of characters and settings and plots. No problem. It was a piece of cake.

Before someone accepted my book for publication, I told myself that if editors wanted to publish my short fiction there was no reason why someone wouldn’t want to publish my book. Publication is publication. Right? At least that’s what I told myself. And hey, someone published my book, didn’t they?

Maybe I’ll try that same tactic with juggling. If I can juggle short stories, why can’t I juggle full-length manuscripts? Okay, that’s it. I’m going to give it a go. It might not work for me, but at least I can say I tried. So for now, just call me: Laura Best, juggler.

Do you typically juggle manuscripts, or do you stick with one story at a time?

Later, this week Author Jan Coates will be dropping in to do a guest blog. She’ll be telling us about the inspiration for her book, A Hare in the Elephants Trunk, a story about the lost boys in the Sudan. Hope you’ll drop in and say hello to Jan. Hmmmm. I wonder if Jan juggles.

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  1. We have excellent jugulars in America. There are 535 in DC. Outta slit their jugular.

  2. Go for it, Laura! I started reading “Bitter, Sweet” today, ready for Chapter Four. :)

    • Thanks, Patti. I actually tossed a couple of manuscripts around this evening. Hope you enjoy the read, Patti. :)

  3. I never let a WIP keep me from recording whatever bits I get for a story, poem, or novel. Sometimes it’s only an opening line or paragraph. Sometimes its a scene or two. Maybe just an idea. But I go with what I get. Like you, I’m afraid, if I put it off, I’ll forget. Right now, I’m working on several short stories while I write my next novel.

    You have a good attitude. Try it, if it works for you good. If not, no harm.

  4. I think that’s why I like writing short fiction so much. I used to always set down a line of paragraph for a new story as it came up. The truth is, I haven’t written a short story in like forever. I liked what Elaine had to say though, that she works on short stories while writing her novel. It does feel good to have a journal publish our work in the meantime. It at least brings about a feeling of accomplishment.

    I’l see how the juggling goes. I really won’t know until I give it a good try.

  5. I’m a juggler. Moving between one project and another keeps both fresh. If I have a problem with one, writing on the other keeps the creative energy rolling and helps me find the answer. With only one project on the go, having a problem can mean that the writing simply stops while I stew about an answer. Even after a short break, getting back to the writing again can be hard. I like to avoid that moment whenever possible.

    • Since you write non-fiction as well, Heather, I’m wondering if it’s easier to juggle non-fiction as apposed to fiction or if there’s any difference–jugging is juggling? You’re right about the pitfalls of only having on project on the go. I often found that was why I juggled short stories, if I got stumped or bored I moved on to something else. Seemed to work well.

  6. Last week I learned to walk & chew gum at the same time. A big step. (*Sigh*) I juggle waaay too much, but that’s okay. I’ve gotten away from the short stories but I do have 2 writing projects going right now – they’re about as dissimilar as you can get get. Just give juggling a shot. You can do it – no sweat. Oh, and take a trip in a seaplane when you get a chance …..

    • Well congrats to you, Dave Ebright!! You have obviously mastered something that most men are unable to. You’re one of a kind, you are…And I always love your comments. They’re usually good for a giggle or two. Are the two writing projects in the Jack series? Ah but you have one on the go for a younger crowd, too, if I recall.

      Now if you tell me you can chew gum. juggle and walk I’ll REALLY be impressed.

  7. I’ve been considering taking up juggling myself. Usually, I’m a one-at-a-time writer, but now I have three ideas for novels that are begging to be written, and I’m having trouble choosing between them.

    My main concern would be…is it more difficult to keep the voice consistent if you’re writing more than one book at a time?

    • I’ll be interested in hearing how you make out, Holli, if you decide to take up juggling. I know what you mean about keeping the voice consistent in more than one book. I kind of wondered about that. With my two projects, one is historical and one is contemporary. That might help me keep them separate.

  8. Generally, I just open a new file every time I get a new story idea, jot down the few thoughts I have, and sometimes I even go back to them and follow up! But yes, I often work on two things at the same time – a shorter chapter book at the same time as a novel manuscript, etc., with the odd poem, essay, whatever thrown in. On another note, Jacob’s wife Jenti just had a baby girl – Adau Heaven, after his mama:)

    • This is actually something I don’t think we discussed before, Jan. What you do is basically what I always did with short stories, but surely writing a longer story would be no different.

      Well congrats to Jacob and his wife.. Awww, so sweet that he named his little girl after his mother, and so appropriate. :)

  9. I’ve had 4 on the go for awhile. I even had 6 for about a month. Crazy. At least it felt that way while I was trying to keep things straight. The other day someone remarked how happy they were to see I’d named a character after them. I couldn’t remember the character. How sad is that. I’m juggling one maybe 2 books from now on.

    • Joylene, you’re amazing. I can’t even begin to imagine juggling six. I am going to try juggling two and see what happens. If the number rises higher than that I’ll likely go off the deep end. Better stick with two,


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