In yesterday’s post, Catie made reference to “new shiny ideas.” Great phrase that, because it is SO true.
People often ask me what I’m working on, usually in the context of trying to figure out if the sequel to that book they’ve just bought, or are in the middle of reading, is going to be available any time soon. More often than not, they’re surprised to learn that I’m a book ahead of them, that in fact I’m already writing the third book in the sequence or the first book of a new project.
It is a fact of the publishing world that for most of us, particularly those of us who are midlist authors, our books appear in print a good year or so after we’ve finished writing them. There are many steps in the publishing process. Writing the book, of course. But then there’s the edit/revision process I go through with my editor; the copyediting, which I need to go over before the book goes to press; the checking of page-proofs for typos; not to mention the other things going on simultaneously: jacket art, maps, pre-production publicity, etc. It’s a complicated process and it takes time. So by the time my book comes out, I’ve pretty much written the next one and have moved on to the one after that.
What’s my point? Ha ha! You assume I have one! Well, yeah, okay. I have a point.
I’m currently writing the third book of my Blood of the Southlands trilogy. I’ve only just started it, but I expect to have it done in another five or six months. It being the third book of my trilogy (and me being a writer who actually writes trilogies that are only three books long), I need to have something in mind to write next. The book might be in production for a year, but as I’ve said, that doesn’t mean that I won’t spend that year writing something else. And that something else is going to be brand-spanking-new.
That’s where the shiny comes in. I already know what I’m going to be writing. I’ve done most of the worldbuilding. I’ve started to map out the first book. I’ve developed characters. I’ve even written a short story set in this new world that I recently sold to Black Gate Magazine. It should be out later this year. (Yay!) I love this new world. I want to play with it. I want to immerse myself in it and meet the other characters waiting for me there. I want to see where this first plot line takes me and discover other places in the world that I haven’t yet explored .
But I have this other book to write.
You ever buy yourself a new toy — a new camera, for instance, or a new stereo component, or a new computer? And you bought it not because the other, older one had died, but because it was getting rickety and wasn’t doing for you all the things you wanted it to, all the things you knew this new one could do. The last thing you want to do is go home, put the new toy aside, and go back to playing with the old one, right? You want to play with your new toy, damnit!
That’s how I felt when I was writing book three of my LonTobyn Chronicle. I already had an idea of what I wanted to do with Winds of the Forelands and I couldn’t wait to get to it. But I had to. It’s how I felt when I was finishing Winds of the Forelands and was starting to map out the contemporary fantasy that I’ve started and am still trying to sell. And it’s how I feel now. I know that I have to finish Blood of the Southlands. I actually feel good about the way the third book has started; I think it will be a fun and satisfying conclusion to the series. Really. I do. So . . . uh . . . you want to write it for me?
Because I want to play with my new toy!! It’s not that I don’t like Blood of the Southlands. I do. I love it. THE SORCERERS’ PLAGUE was great fun to write and THE HORSEMEN’S GAMBIT, which has recently gone into production, might well be the best thing I’ve ever written. I love these books, including this new one, just like I love all the books I write. But the world isn’t as fresh for me as it was, the plot line doesn’t hold as many surprises. The characters are old friends and I still care for them, but I want to meet someone new, someone exciting, someone who will fill me with passion. Again. (I don’t have mid-life crises, I have mid-series crises….)
I have a great new shiny idea. But I can’t play with it until I finish my last great new shiny idea. Yeah, there are worse things. But right now it’s buggin’ me a little. Or had you noticed?