Okay, okay, it was two weeks until yesterday, but it’s close enough. Today’s day 15 (assuming I can count, which I couldn’t last week when I gave us two Day Eights…), and I’ve managed to write every day, which is pretty unusual for me.
I’ve done about…mmm. 7000 words, which isn’t really very many (particularly after last month’s, what, 65K+ and November’s …65K…?) but, you know, possibly the 120K in the past two months is taking its toll. Although really it’s more that I’ve…
So my projects this month were going to be proposals for trad pub projects. I started with one which is charming and delightful and would be lots of fun to write, and hauled myself through most of the synopsis before I had a Moment Of Clarity about what I’m trying to achieve, career-wise, in 2018. It amounts to Reinvention Of Self, and there are several irons in the fire in that regard.
Anyway, the project I’d gotten 80% of the way through synopsizing was a cute little CE Murphy style book, but a thing that happened, career-wise, after I wrote the last Walker Papers, was that both of my publishers at the time told me they wanted the Breakout Book from me.
As you might imagine, I also wanted the Breakout Book. I sent them many proposals. (Seriously. A lot.) They kept saying, “No, this isn’t what we’re looking for.” Eventually I said “okay, look, give me some guidelines.”
One of them, memorably, did so. They wanted me to write for their adult fiction line (as opposed to young adult, not, like, adult films). They wanted something without many science fiction or fantasy elements. They wanted something with “wide general appeal, like…Harry Potter, or The Hunger Games.”
I pointed out, with some frustration, that one could not reasonably ask me for non-fantasy/sf adult fiction with wide general appeal and simultaneously use *explicitly* SFF YA that gained wide general appeal through grass roots as an example. They, unfortunately, could not offer any greater clarification.
Shortly thereafter (and unrelatedly :)) my editor there got laid off, leaving me without much point of contact, and things have been heavily self-published-focused since, although I’ve been proposing things to agents and editors pretty regularly in the interim.
The point of all this is I’d been working on this charming proposal, and I realized: this is not a thing to reinvent myself with. It’s a CE Murphy book, which is fine, but it’s not something my old publishers would have bought. It’s not The Breakout Book.
So I thought, okay, if my goal here is really to reinvent myself, then I need to go big or go home. And there are two projects I have that fall under that category; one is an epic fantasy, and the other is…The Climate Change Series.
You know. The series I’ve been talking about for nigh unto a decade. The one I’ve taken stabs in the dark at, and backed away from. The one I’m…scared to write.
Here’s the truth, mes amis: I am not afraid of writing. I’ve never really understood people saying “this book scared me,” or talking about writing through the fear, or digging deep to, I don’t know, write with blood and marrow.
I mean, yes, in every book I write there’s a period of time where I think I’ve screwed it up and it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written and I can’t actually write and I’m not doing the story justice and everybody will hate it. This, as far as I can tell, is entirely normal writer behaviour. But overall, writing doesn’t scare me. I’m confident of the storytelling choices I make (even when they cause readers to throw a book across the room, as memorably happened with one reader at the end of COYOTE DREAMS. Later, she said, she got EVEN MADDER…because she realized I’d been right with how I told the story, EVEN THOUGH IT WASN’T WHAT SHE WANTED. Deeply offensive behaviour, that! :)). At the end of a book, I feel I’ve done it justice. I’ve done the best I could, I’ve gotten it onto the page as well as I can, I’ve conveyed what I wanted to convey.
I am not *afraid* of writing. I really barely even understand what it means to be afraid of writing.
I am *terrified* of writing the climate change books.
(Michelle Sagara, who (correctly) thinks I’m generally weirdly confident for a writer, cheerfully told me that my nerves about the climate change books is the most normal writer-behaviour she’s ever seen from me. I’m like BUT THIS IS AWFUL, HOW DO YOU EVEN DEAL WITH IT?!?!?!?!?! She did not have a helpful answer. :))
So I’ve concluded that if I want to go big, I need to…face this thing. Do the climate change books. Even if they terrify me, which they do. (I’m afraid of dropping the ball. I’m afraid of failing my…vision? of hope and change. I’m…I’m just afraid, and that’s…I have no tools to deal with that!) I have…I have a lot of notes and some story excerpts and some…ideas. What I need to do is spend more time than usual wrangling them into plot and story arc and, probably at least as importantly, decide where my limits are, because part of the problem is that climate change is huge, and I’ve come to realize recently that I know a great deal more about it than your average joe, and the weight of that knowledge is part of what’s stymying me: it’s hard to narrow down my focus when I’m too aware of the scope. Which is overwhelming, and cannot, realistically, be tackled in one series.
Which all means that instead of throwing myself headlong into a bunch of smaller proposals for the month/100 Days Of Writing, I’ve had to completely recalibrate my goals. I did finish the charming little proposal, because I’d put enough work in that finishing it was only another few hours’ worth of effort, but it’s now sidelined. I started writing another short story for KISS OF ANGELS, the Patreon-first Old Races short story collection, which is nearly done and if I finish 2-3 more stories this month I can get it out to the world pretty soon. I’m going to be writing a new book in February/March (either the next Heartstrike book or the next Austen Chronicle, I haven’t decided yet), for self-publishing purposes, and I’m going to be working on the climate change series in the background for the first quarter of the year. Or longer, if it takes longer.
…anyway, so that’s why I’ve done about 7000 words this month instead of 30K or something. O.O :)