Back in the saddle
So I am trying to get back on the (writing) horse again. Like falling off the real thing, there is considerable wisdom in the advice about getting back on immediately. Still, this is the first break I’ve taken for 10 years (the last one was 3 weeks to emigrate) and it was 17 years before that. I’ve not taken a ‘work-free’ holiday in that time. Slowed down, worked on editing, proofing, research, taken a day off, yes. But longer, no.
I had dramas getting paid for my last book (just trad Pub working at normal speed – only a drama from my point of view). It was money I was relying on for the house-building and moving, which – today, it seems are finally resolved. Three months late but, I suppose, better than never. Still, it hasn’t helped that get back on the horse process. Defensive memory makes it hard to remember which end produces dung and which end bites. I think I am supposed to be in the middle between them, but I may be facing the wrong way.
That is, if ‘forward’ is the direction I’m hoping to go (yes it is).
The next book/s are intended to be Indy so at least anyone is keeping me waiting and not getting around to it… I’m his boss, and I can kick his butt. He’s a lazy squit, so I expect lots of butt-kicking. And he will complain (accurately) that I’m a miserable bastard and I spy on him, because I know exactly when he’s goofing off.
But the books have to be written.
Now, I always have one book on the back-burner (for when I get stuck) and one I am supposed to be working on. It lessens (but does not eliminate) the difficulty of starting a new book after being deeply immersed in one world. I’ve had HOW MUCH FOR JUSTTHE CRAZY UNCLE on the slow heat while I finished the last Karres (the last I will do, anyway, barring the unforeseen).
It’s a good story, I like the characters, but… it’s just not rolling. So I needed another story to work on. I’m not ready to work on any sequels to anything I don’t have the rights to (that would simply delay my getting my rights back, further, by selling more of the earlier books, of tepid benefit to me.) so… it had to be something new or… an idea I hadn’t sold.
Now ‘hadn’t sold’ probably should ring some alarm bells… and did. I have a whole folder called proposals – some of which I have sold, some of which are little more than a few words about an idea, and some of which are full outlines and sample chapters and have been to a bunch of Trad Pub editors and various agents.
It was a fascinating trawl through many of my book ideas, many of which I barely remembered. Some, even to me (and I am biased) probably really shouldn’t have been bought. A lot, however contain good seed, and mixed with my ability and a bit of editing still appealed. One thing was obvious, however: I had tried to tailor many to suit the markets I trying to sell to (various publishers and agents).
I wasn’t at that stage trying to sell to my readers, my actual customers. I know full well that I shape my actual books to that end, but the proposals… less so. And this meant curiously enough, that I found I wasn’t trying to sell to the most important customer if I want to write that book: me.
Once I hit that realization, I started thinking of changes _I_ would like to make to make the book attractive to me, as a writer (which basically means I had to want to read them).
Often it wasn’t a lot. One – half urban fantasy, (left half) I had set in the US (real places). Places I didn’t know with people with backgrounds I could guess at, but… I’ve many American friends, but I am not one. I’ve never lived there. Shift the story to Australia – I might lose some readers, perhaps, but I have a lot better idea of people and place – so the setting and characters suspend disbelief for me, at least, more easily. And, um, mistakes I make are merely the exotic setting to my American readers!
Another was a somewhat satirical take on SJW and the inevitable collision with real life that happens when those of genuine conviction go and try actually help the people they believe need it (and these people exist, and always have – my grandmother was a missionary’s daughter, and I read a few of the letters her father wrote. I’ve also had a fair bit to do with the volunteers clearing a particularly nasty invasive thorn from the outer island. It’s physical, often painful and involves lots of ‘evil’ modern machinery and poisons. They may be batty… but they’re each worth fifty of the typical upper-middle class urban white woman who rants about the cause de jour on twitter. They are a very different beast to the current virtue-signaling herd-follower who never ACTUALLY physically did anything to help the designated victims). The ‘victims’ of course are also nothing like the straw-man poor little usually brown people patronized to your standard issue SJW.
When I was writing the proposals and outline and indeed sample chapters… I was being careful to not be too obvious. Frankly, it spoiled it.
The end result is I now have roughly six books I’m eager to write.
And that is a great help to getting back in the saddle.