Monday, June 19, 2017

Life After The Contract: Which Manuscript Was That?

I’ve mentioned that some things change when you sign a contract. Today is life after contract, the endless edits keep me from writing my next book edition.

I tweeted earlier today that within 14 hours of finishing a round of edits on one book, I received another round of edits for a different book, and this is now my life. My plan had been to draft between when I'd finished one set and received the next set. To be clear, I didn't write a novel in those 14 hours...

As of this exact second, I am juggling what can only be referred to as a ton of novels. A list:

MS 1: in pre-publishing edits
MS 2: on submission with publisher
MS 3: in the query trenches
MS 4: being drafted on lunch breaks with a wireless keyboard hooked up to my phone (this is the only time I can’t work on edits as I can’t take my computer to work without being willing to submit it to time consuming inspection by IT peeps—yes, my work is sensitive, but not at all how you think)
MS 5: in development
MS 6: waiting to go into the editing grinder

Yes, I have six novels running at the same time. Six. So at any moment, I could have good or bad news from an agent, an editor, or a crit partner, and I’m trying to stick words to the page. It’s a lot to manage. (and my email is officially a ticking time bomb).

Now, I don’t say this to brag, but I think sometimes we don’t consider what consequences our actions have. Action: I’ve written a lot of books. Consequence: finding a home for those books takes time. I wrote MS 2 in 2016. I wrote MS 1 in 2009 (yeah, it’s been a long haul with that book).

At one point, I looked up from my writing work and realized I knew exactly what I needed to be writing for the next three years, and that hit me in the creative noodle. I’d never been under contract. I’d just been frolicking about in the land of dreaming up the next great big book to lure an unsuspecting agent into my snare. Then suddenly, I know what I’m trying to put together creatively for the next few years. That’s a heck of a commitment.

I don’t regret any of it. I love the work I’m doing, but it sort of shocked me to realize that I started my publishing journey in 2009, I’m two books in, and my writing docket is all tied up until the end of the decade.

So I did something big name authors do all the time: I stole time from somewhere else to develop another project. MS 4 in that list has nothing to do with any of the other novels. Literally nothing alike. It’s not even an explosion filled action piece (but it does have dragons!). I found a piece of time I had, lunches and breaks at work, and figured out how to convert them into words. So far, so good. I’m averaging about 2K a week on drafting while I’m working on the endless edits for projects under contract.

Because here’s another hard truth: once you’re published, you still have to do EVERYTHING ELSE you had to do before you were published, plus revise, edit, and polish a manuscript. Market, prep, write a sequel, and do it again. And if you’re lucky, do it again. All the while, cooking dinners, cleaning house and fulfilling the whole full time job gig too. I’m lucky in that my SO picks up the slack when I’m ready to throw poptarts at the family, but I have to admit, my ability to create new work in the crunched time was one of the hardest adjustments.


So there it is, folks, find a way to steal time and write the next book. If that advice sounds familiar, it should. Writing the next book is almost always the answer. 

1 comment:

  1. I remember way back when, working at OSH in Goleta, when we had hour-long lunch breaks so I'd write during that time. I went through three 120-page notebooks in the year I worked there and got a lot done. So yeah, I definitely understand finding the time when you can get it, and I'm glad that's working for you. ^_^

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