Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sometimes being an author throws you for a loop

So I'm 20,000 words into my next novel, Ghosts of the Asylum, when something happens.

My print editor contacts me and wants some revisions for other work.

Which there's nothing wrong with. This is not a blog post bitching about editors. For one thing, my editor has treated me quite fairly. For another thing, her requested changes will be an obvious improvement. And finally, I'm not a writer who usually has problems with editors anyway. They have a job. I have a job. Sometimes those jobs conflict, but in my experience most often the worst conflicts come down to one of two things, either a personality conflict between the writer and editor, or one of the two is just a lamebrain. My editor is no lamebrain, and I'd like to think I'm at least not a complete lamebrain.

I also had a recent visit to the hospital. It turns out everything is okay, even better than I would have expected. Basically, I need to get more exercise, lose some weight and get more sleep. Hey, who doesn't? I'll deal with my health issues.

All of that has happened in the last few days, the hospital visit and the contacts with my editor.

I've also been doing a lot of studying of and giving a lot of thought to Tolstoy, John Gardner and even Heinlein of late.

For someone who is not a writer, there probably are no connections in all this mess. Hell, a lot of writers wouldn't see any connections in all of this. But I do.

What do I see? To be honest, I'm not completely sure yet. But I feel a yearning for stretching my limits as a writer, in style and hopefully in quality.

So today, while getting together some files and notes to begin the work my editor seeks, I decided to set aside the 20,000 words of Ghosts of the Asylum. It's not that there's anything wrong with those 20,000 words. Not at all.

It's just that I feel a need to tell a different kind of story in a manner different from anything I've done before, at least in long form.

For me, fiction writing is not about conclusions. It is not about answers. It is about exploration. It is about questions.

And for the time being, I feel Ghosts of the Asylum isn't a tale that makes demands of me as a writer. It's more of the same. It's a safe bet. I know if I write and publish Ghosts of the Asylum, I can find a readership and make a little money with it.

But I'm yearning to go beyond that, to explore my writing in another direction.

So today I typed up 500 words of a potential novel that's currently titled The Librarian's Daughter.

It is fantasy, but it's not the normal action-oriented fantasy I'm more familiar with writing. I know the basic story already in my head. I've had this story bopping around inside my noggin for some time. But I've never been sure how to tell it. Until recently.

Which is how all that stuff above comes to mesh together for me. Between rewriting, going to the hospital, and my studies of authors whom I appreciate, something clicked in my head telling me how to tell this tale.

I'll see how things go. I'm not forgetting Ghosts of the Asylum. It is still there waiting for me to come back. Normally I work on one project at a time. Maybe this time I'll work on several projects at once.

It'll be a challenge. But that's one thing I love about all this.

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