In which I contemplate starting writing a new novel before I finish my current one, and try to take my WIP’s feelings into account.
I know I said I wasn’t going to write about writing too much, but I didn’t say I’d never do it. Today is one of those.
Where my writing is at
I’ve got to that point where each edit of my work in progress (WIP) results in fewer and fewer changes, and I can feel I’m near the end. At least at the beginning of the end. Or possibly getting near the beginning of the end.
Whatever. I’m close.
I began writing the first draft of this book, currently titled RAIN ON DRAGON SCALES, in December 2015, and I spent six months planning before I started the writing. You can see I haven’t hurried to get to where I am–I’m learning as I go and it takes time.
Thankfully I don’t need to feed myself from my writing income, though it would have made me lose weight a whole lot faster.
I’m currently working on the fifth draft of my WIP, plus or minus a few because a draft is not a well-defined object, and I feel like I’m nearly ready for beta readers. This will be the first time I send a whole book out to people whose sole job isn’t to make me feel good about my existence, and it is TERRIFYING.
Like, staring a down a ravenous snow bear while standing on a tight-rope over a pit full of angry cobras terrifying. During an earthquake.
I don’t hold back when I beta and I hope my betas don’t either, because I want to know how I can improve my book, but I can tell even now that when I get feedback there’s going to be a bit of dying inside.
Where to next?
Sorry, I got a bit distracted thinking about how scary this is going to be. What I meant to say was that I also need time away from my book, maybe while it’s with betas, so I can read it with fresh eyes.
I haven’t quite got the timing pinned down, but I plan to keep entirely away from it for at least a month, maybe longer. (It’s pretty long, so I plan to ask betas for a turnaround time of 6 weeks.)
What I’ve been wondering is whether I should start my next novel while this one percolates.
Starting might involve either planning or full-on drafting. Either way, it’s a big move and I need to consider the pros and cons before I leap into it.
I tend to spend a lot of time solving plot problems. I don’t know why. Maybe my books are too complicated, or maybe I’m just slow. But that means I need to start thinking about what I’m going to write a long time before I actually write it.
So clearly an advantage of starting thinking about my next book sooner is that, well, I’ll have thought about my next book sooner.
Starting will also help me stay in the habit of “writing” (in the broad sense). Also good, because if I lose the habit I might find something else that interests me to occupy my time, and it’ll all be downhill from there.
Distraction, disillusionment, death.
I’m serious. Sort of. What if I get distracted with shiny things and when it comes time to further edit my current book I’ve lost the drive? What if starting the new one makes me realise how many insurmountable problems there are with the current one and makes me want to abandon it entirely?
What if my characters get furious about their abandonment and do me in? I wouldn’t put it past them.
Even if they don’t kill me, I can see them sulking and refusing to share their secrets any more. Is this a risk I should be willing to take?
What if I get the stories mixed up in my head, and transfer characteristics of one world into the other? I’m so terrible at multi-tasking that maybe I shouldn’t even try.
In the end, I feel guilty about abandoning my WIP to start something else. Do I not believe in it any more? Is it not still my precious?
Which brings me to an excellent point that I read in a writing book recently. Thinking about your first book as the perfect one is damaging and unrealistic and is going to stop you moving forwards. Get over the idea that it will ever be flawless, make it as good as you have the ability to make it right now, and move on.
I need to come to grips with the idea that I’m going to have to move on. Perhaps starting on the sequel will be less painful. At least then I won’t have to abandon my characters entirely.
Do you work on multiple WIPs at once? When they’re at what stages? Does it work well or poorly for you? The people need to know.
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