Last night at rehearsal I finished entering the changes based on comments from First Readers 1 and 2. All that remains are my wife’s comments and then a printout of the reconciled draft. Getting that done in the next couple of weeks might be easier said than done, with opening night of the show 10 days away.
In the meantime, ideas for What To Do Next keep swimming in and out of my head. On the commute this morning I was thinking about (rather, I couldn’t help thinking about) the timeslip novel I want to do.
I’m finding this all quite annoying. I keep thinking I’ve settled on The Next Book, and other projects keep racing in and out of my head.
For example, here’s what I’ve thought about working on over the last few weeks:
• A UFO novel set in my adopted hometown
• A dark thriller about the nature and meaning of dreams
• A quirky/odd novel with elements of magic realism
• A timeslip novel with suspense and forbidden romance
• A superhero novel, told from the POV of the faithful sidekick
• Jamais Vu, a more straight-ahead thriller
• Since I have theater fever, a new play (followed by getting it produced)
There are also a couple of side projects involved:
• Deadline, which I really need to finish, and
• The long, long, long overdue author’s preferred version/e-text edition of Handling It.
Undoubtedly Handling It will be the next thing I do once And/News has been launched into the marketplace. It’s the quickest project and next to getting Richard and K’s story done, the most urgent.
So here begins the triage. And what I’m going to say here is what I already know in my heart must be done, for reasons to be discussed.
I could almost do the play and I think I could have a rough draft done in a month or so. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about major revisions until it went into production some months later – and that process, including performance, would take 8 to 12 weeks. So that could still happen.
Beyond that. Deadline is a background project, and I’ll likely return to tinkering with that in off moments. Another non-issue that will take care of itself.
That leaves five candidates. So I have to ask myself an important question:
When And/News sells and my new editor asks me, “What are you working on now?”, what am I going to tell him/er?
You see how the question takes care of things, especially when you consider what the answer has to be:
What will the editor want to hear?
“A magic realism novel?” I don’t think so.
“A character driven novel where the only casualty may or may not be the truth?” Not.
“A book about–” Wait, let’s try that again. “A thriller about a superhero who still has very human problems.” Not yet.
“A time-travel romance where–” Don’t even go there. Maybe later in your career.
That leaves two options left: “A thriller that I really don’t want to write at the moment, with the same amounts of humor and suspense as the last one,” and “A thriller that’s a darker than And/News, that’s going to challenge me as a writer and show readers how versatile I am.”
I think it’ll come down to the dark thriller. Especially if it’s half-finished by the time the editor asks.
This is something that every novelist with the persistence to get published is going to face. For me, the key is that I’m in this for the long haul. I’ve got my career as a writer to think about, and part of that includes putting out a string of novels that establishes my voice before I veer off into Stephen King experimentation or Joyce Carol Oates eclecticism. I’m figuring that a string of character-centered thrillers will do just that.
If it were up to me, I think I’d write the Superhero novel next. It’s got a special place in my heart, and I really need to write it. Soon. It would still be character driven, and would have the same balance of suspense and humor as And/News. And it really would be more of a contemporary novel than SF because… well, you’ll see.
Hmmm, maybe when I sell that dark thriller, I can I can send my new editor the 20,000 word precis of the Superhero novel that I wrote a few years ago…
Okay, I’m not going to moon about it. That’s the plan and I’m just going to do it. I think. And I’ll keep in mind the words of those two sage philosophers:
“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes
You just might find…
You get what you need.”