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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On Timing...

Do you ever get the feeling like you're writing the wrong book? Or trying to squeeze everything into one book when you need to stretch it out? Am I the only person who worries about which book to debut with?

Some authors, ones I have never personally met mind you, but some authors exist who write one book, perfect it, query it, and then start thinking about book number two. I want to meet one of these people and ask them how they do this. I've been writing stories and books since... forever maybe... when my parents read to me as a child I would finish the story in my head, I would rewrite it. It was amateur fan-fiction and never scribbled down but it was the beginning for me. After that came stories for school, in kindergarten I wrote about a sea turtle and pollution (Mom's idea) in third grade I wrote about dwarves, wolves, and a missing baby rattle (my idea). By middle school I had my first solid character with a book series (Calla Starbound) and in high school I finished my first novel (Ghost of a Queen).

Now I have archives of stories. Long lists, outlines, plans, timelines that span thousands of years, and character sheets that run for days for things I either 1) am writing, 2) have written, or 3) plan to write soon. And a month rarely goes by that I don't edit or expand the list in some way. I love my characters, I love their stories, and trying to pick the best is like trying to pick my favorite star in the sky or my favorite child. It just isn't going to happen.

So, instead of having one little manuscript to fawn over and love I have about half-a-dozen potential debut novels. I have one (Bryson) which was written and designed to be a debut novel, that was the whole reason I thought it up. But I lost interest in the final three chapters and have been avoiding it ever since. I have another novel that I would love to finish and, if I write it right, it will be a great debut novel... but it's fantasy not sci-fi and I'm not sure I can jump genres between books one and two and the second book in that series isn't ready to go yet. I have several sci-fi stories, each with it's good points, but also with weak points.

At the moment I'm polishing Demands of Justice and I'm worried that I can't start with this book. Technically, it could stand alone. It would be better with other books in place and best read with the three follow-up books promised to be published. Things wrap up better that way. But DoJ is the book of the moment.

So, now what?

Do I drop DoJ and find something a little more doable for publishing? Do I plunge on with DoJ knowing I could be killing my career if I don't have it sublimely perfect (this is not a book that allows missteps)? Should I alter my timeline and give myself more time to get books finished and edited and wait to see what's best?

I honestly don't know. I write what I want to read. I do notice the market but usually in the style of, "good, but not what I'm writing" so that doesn't really help.



  1. Hi.

    Is this weird to comment on a personal blog and not one like Kristin's or Janet's.

    Anyways. I am one of those "one at a time" authors you speak of. Ha! I just wanted to say that for me, it is one at a time because it's easier to juggle the story points when I'm editing. I tried to start another in between and found neither had my full attention.

    As for what you should publish first. That's such a personal call. I'll let you know though that I'm keeping an eye on that fairy tail book you had there at the bottom of your list. Reminds me a lot of the books by the author of Wicked. (Which I loved but who's name is not coming to mind)


  2. Melissa~
    I need to get that fairy tale fully plotted out. I know how it starts, some major points in the middle, and how it ends but I'm missing pieces. Fairy tales only happen when I'm away from all my other writing and playing with my kids. With children around it's easy to envision a different sort of world.

    As for the rest... we'll see...

    But keep commenting! I love having comments :o)

  3. I would say focus on the story that means the most to you. The one you're truly passionate about. Chances are, it'll be the one that comes across the most clear and vivid to editors and agents. :)

  4. Scary though it is, particularly given the potential for failure, I think I agree with Tabitha.

    I also agree with your suggestion that you ought to cut yourself some slack and lengthen your timeline. We both know you've too much of the perfectionist gene for your own good.