As I am waiting for the work of others to be complete and The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book 2: Chasing Dreams to appear IRL, so I can get reviews (interested? LMK) and appearances and attention to get people to buy this fun and exciting book, I am wondering what to work on next, as in right now this minute.
There’s Book 3, of course, but that’s kind of daydreaming away in the back of my mind, ideas condensing and coalescing into a story that will get more compelling as it forms. This is going to take some time. I plan to start writing the first draft next fall. My light reading has wended its way to Japanese history, for real events I can exploit. More Dragons!
There’a a cookbook, in manuscript, which, unfortunately, will need to be scanned or keyboarded before it can burst upon an unsuspecting world. It’s designed for life in small spaces and living from scratch. People keep asking for it. I need to do that. It feels like work, so I don’t want to.
Then there’s The Secret Project, that rattles around in my head. It’s gone from a very specific and narrow genre to something else. The characters simply refuse to parade around like Barbie and Ken and Skipper and G.I. Joe and have annoyingly turned into people. With a culture, universe, backstories, and history. Because of this, The Secret Project may never come to fruition, remaining trapped between what it was meant to be and what it might never become. It would be fantastically hard to sort it out. The difficulty is itself an attraction, but when and if I pursue this, it will take all my time and heart for a year or two, and right now I am writing a SERIES that has all my time and heart, with at least five books in it, and I want those books published. I want the series complete. It feels important, and so it must come first. The Secret Project feels like something that’s going to stay in my head for a while until I can give it the energy it deserves.
So many people say they want to be writers but don’t know what to write. The best answer to that, I think, is to write something, every day, for a short period of time. Do the “morning pages,” or the “journaling.” Write a limerick every day for a week. Just get writing. From my perspective as a working writer, there’s far too much to write. All these projects take time. I can to some extent predict my process but I can’t do it all. I have to choose. I could work on assembling a book of poetry, for another idea. Poems on scraps and in notebooks among phone numbers and train directions hide in my house like the contents of Emily Dickenon's shredder. I am in fact writing poetry, some of which shows up in my blog along with information about THE NEW BOOK, YAY! and some of which shows up on Facebook. I could experiment with high-altitude baking and run up a quick cookbook on that, like the many people who tout some version of “Make Money on Kindle” are always urging us to do — a short book a week, non-fiction (or very specific kinds of fiction), cheap price, and keep ‘em coming. Shall I start a cookbook assembly line? I don’t think so. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not for me.
When Book 3 is a bit farther on, I will start telling myself the story, from start to finish, in my head. Things will come to a stop. I will have to ask myself Stephen King’s invaluable question, “What Comes Next?” over and over again. I will need to remind myself of Mickey Spillane’s immortal advice to writers, “When all else fails, bring on a man with a gun.” In that context, What Comes Next is creating, and it is hard work.
But now? This is a different context, when I must sort and pick and choose. What flavor of ice cream do I want? What kind of cookies shall I bake? In which world to I want to dwell the most? This is easy, this is hard, that is someday, looks like fun. I am toying with all of them, and new ones keep popping up. I’m going to enjoy it. For a few days, anyway, What Comes Next is a lazy and pleasant place to be.
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