If you’re a writer you spend a lot of time just sitting around waiting. You wait to see whether your book has been accepted or rejected. You wait to see what your editor has to say about your work. You wait to see whether a project gets approved or you have to go back to the drawing board. Once you finish a project, you often sit around waiting for feedback. That is what I am currently doing now–waiting to see what my editor has to say about The Angel of Fire.
Sometimes when I finish a book I need a break. Some books take a lot out of you and the best thing you can do is simply go on holiday for a few weeks. Most books are not like that.
Sometimes when you are working on a series you need to take an enforced break anyway. There is nothing I can do on Book Two of the Macharius trilogy until Book One has been approved. In the past, in situations like this I would simply have sat around waiting. I am naturally pretty lazy and any excuse for a break is a good one as far as I am concerned. This is not the most productive use of a writer’s time and I have often felt guilty about this. The logical thing would be to get to work on something and make use of the time. I don’t find this the easiest thing to do. I find it difficult to work on projects in bits. I like to apply myself to work in contiguous blocks of time and write until the project is done. Starting something completely new, knowing I will have to stop work on it in a few days or a week because I will be restarting work on something I am contracted to do is not something that comes easily to me. On the other hand, that might just be my well known laziness talking.
So I am actually going to try putting my time to good use. I have started work on my new Kormak novel. I’ve had great feedback on The Guardian of the Dawn and I’ve always really liked the character. Last week I followed the outlining procedure I set out here. I’m already 10,000 words into the book. You might be thinking that’s pretty good going but I must confess that I cheated. I started work on this book several years ago and abandoned it. I do this to a lot of projects. I’m not entirely sure why but I know it’s common amongst writers of my acquaintance. You have this brilliant idea and you sit down in a fit of enthusiasm and begin but at some point you lose traction and things just peter out. Sometimes though a gap is just what you need. In the time between me setting down the original 30,000 words of this book and now I had plenty of time to see where I went wrong.
I started writing this book with no clear idea of the basic plot which is a mistake I often make. I am one of those people who really needs to outline something before they begin or there is a real danger of losing my way. I now realise that my mistake was that I was writing two different books. I wrote the beginning of one novel but then tried to graft on a murder mystery which was not really appropriate. This time around I have taken out the murder mystery part of the plot and thus lost something like 25,000 words and I have gone back to the original beginning which consists of Kormak investigating a haunted tomb to free some kidnapped children. I started spinning out a plot that built upon this opening and I have now got the outline of what I think is a pretty good novel, one that I am confident I can finish. This is going to be a short, brutal novel in the classic sword and sorcery mould. I am really looking forward to writing it. It will give me something to work on in my downtime.
This is not the only thing I’m doing at the moment. My self publishing venture has also given me some other things to fill up my time with. I’m editing the 4th book of the Terrarch series–Shadowblood. I’m basically just doing a last run-through, polishing the text before I send it off to my editor. Once that is done I will be able to put the book into production, hopefully by the end of the month.
In an ideal world, this would be the way I always worked. I would have a new project ready to go the moment I finished the previous one and I would have some editing work to do at the same time. Of course, life does not always go according to plan. And like I said, there are times when you simply need a break. Most of the time though I think this would be a good way of working for me. It certainly beats sitting around on my hands doing nothing which is what I would normally be doing right now. Anyway, excuse me, I am off to do some work now.