Let’s Talk with Tina Whittle

Flurries and Swirls of Life
By Tina Whittle

We celebrate Halloween really big here at Whittle Central. My husband is an aerospace engineer, and this is his chance to build something as intricate as an airplane, only twice as spooky. Because nobody wants their airplane rides to be spooky.

He sticks with the fun side of the holiday—nothing too scary—because one of the joys of the season is the trick-or-treaters who swarm our home. They delight in the skeleton horse with the flaming eyes and turquoise sombrero, oooh and aaah at the snakes twined around every vertical surface, jump and then giggle at the carnivorous trashcan that bites at them as they pass. They even pet the giant spider.

Adults are more suspicious. They worry that there must be more sinister things lurking below the surface. They expect jump scares. They cower prematurely, their eyes darting left and right, ever-vigilant against whatever chainsaw-wielding maniac might lurch from behind a sheet-draped tree.

And now the season is done, and we have put away the inflatable pumpkin and the pirate skeleton and the scarecrow with the glowing head. The yard is as messy as a post-Margi Gras parade. We will spend several days cleaning it up, returning order to the mayhem. And we will settle into the darker, colder days and longer nights of the coming autumn and winter.

I think about this pattern as I ponder my work as a writer. I have just turned in the final edits on Necessary Ends, the sixth in my Tai Randolph/Trey Seaver series. The flurry of creation is done, the feverish final proofing finished. The deadline made. And now I ponder the emptiness before the next beginning.

As I sweep up candy wrappers and put away the lights, I look forward to the upcoming quiet moment in my creative life. No deadline. Not even a first word yet. I can feel ideas swirling, but for now, I let them swirl.

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Comments

  1. For me, finishing a book is like having a baby. Now what? The labor is done and now the real work begins. All the fun of the hurly-burly is finished and it’s down to the nuts and bolts that make the story honest and real. As I’m in the midst of that process, ideas seem to flow for future works and now I’ve become a “Mom” of multiple kids, all screaming for my attention. Good thing I’m a multitasker lol

  2. It’s a relief to finish a book, but there is that gap you face in between projects. I always get depressed and think about getting older. It’s better for me to keep my head in a book or delve into another writing project, even if it’s a backlist title revision.

  3. tinawhittle says:

    This is our biggest holiday. We have two Christmas decorations and a tree, but Halloween is the extravaganza. If you lived on our block, my husband would loan you a vulture or two. Maybe even a snake.

  4. I hear you loud and clear. I just turned in a book to my editor. Along with the relief and feeling of accomplishment, there’s that sense of what’s next, that urgency to dive into another project. I also share your sense of delight (and other emotions) in living with an engineer. He’s certain he can make anything, and so far he just about has.

    • tinawhittle says:

      I figured you would, Maggie! The writing life is one of such ebbs and flows, some of them created by ourselves and some external deadlines. Always pushing and pulling.

  5. I feel your emptiness, Tina. Although I have a week before my next manuscript has to get to my editor, I’m just not ready to dive into anything new yet.

    • tinawhittle says:

      These between-times are very hard to manage. Part of me just wants to hibernate, and the leaves aren’t even changing yet here.

  6. I’m not a big Halloween celebrator. I always feel like the slacker on the block. I have a pumpkin vest and a haunted house candy jar that I hand out treats from, and I have some Halloween earrings, but that’s about the extent of it. Love the flamingo/vulture!