My husband caught me standing in front of my computer staring off into space once. “What are you doing?” he asked.

Me: “Working.”

I’ve been doing a lot of that kind of work lately. Hours and hours of it.

It’s directly related to the revise-and-resubmit letter I got from an editor a couple weeks ago. At first I focused on the minor revisions to fix some less-than-heroic actions on my hero’s part.

That was the easy stuff.

But I’m sure if it were that simple she would have said, “Fix these and I’ll send you a contract.”

How’s that for wishful thinking?

Unfortunately, she also mentioned this pesky thing about the internal conflict getting in the way of them working together toward a common goal. But wait, I thought, what about them trying to stay alive? Find her friend? Stay alive? Hide from the police? Stay alive?

Okay, but I also see where she’s coming from. An agent made a similar point last year. I think the problem is that they don’t start really working together until the second half of the book. They’re stuck together, hiding out together, but totally at odds with each other over a secret the hero’s keeping.

It works for me. My critique partners and beta readers didn’t have a problem with it. But, the industry folks—the ones who rep authors or buy their books, the ones I need to impress—do.

‘Nuff said.

An R&R is hard because there’s no editorial relationship. I can’t ask follow-up questions or push back. I have to go with what I think she meant in her one or two sentences of feedback and hope I know what the hell I’m doing.

So, I’m back to staring off into space a lot, followed by flurries of scribbling in bright colors on too-small whiteboards, and almost no actual writing. There’s nothing to write or revise when I haven’t yet figured out how to keep the essence of the story I love so much, while making it better.

Read: publishable.

All this hard thinking is the reason I started tracking my hours—though I don’t count the time I ponder my MS while driving, running, trying to sleep—in addition to my word count. If I had to gauge my progress by word count right now I’d be looking for a day job again.

Instead, I’ll go back the hard work of staring off into space.

Photo credit: Hansjorn [Public domain, GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons