Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What's Next, Folks?

After nearly six years of more or less knowing where my writing focus is, I find myself in an exciting but slightly uncomfortable place: What do I do next?
Admittedly, it’s not the first time I’ve found myself here. Right before Carina Press made an offer on Mistress of Fortune, I was ready to write something entirely new. I wanted to leave 17th century London and move forward a few hundred years, maybe even write something contemporary. Several thousand words later, I had two different novels started.
Then, the offer came in November 2012. I was in the middle of NaNoWriMo at the time and promptly put that novel-in-progress to the side so that I could concentrate on writing a proposal for book two in the Mistress of Fortune series.
Signing a two-book deal with Carina was good for me. I considered it a wise career move, not only because hello, it was a two-book deal, but also because I needed to learn how to write a book to deadline. It took me five years to write Mistress of Fortune. The motivation of a signed contract helped me to write that second book in six months. The finished novel, Mistress of Lies, is not quite as polished (it’s in edits now) but it’s just as tightly plotted as Mistress of Fortune and in some ways, it’s a stronger book. I'm proud of it, and post-edits, it'll be a damned good book.
The obvious answer to the what's next question is to write a proposal for a third book in the Mistress of Fortune series. Believe me, it's tempting. But I know I have to be true to myself and my writing goals--I'd like to snag a print deal and that will probably never happen for the Mistress of Fortune series. As much as I love it, I need to move on, at least temporarily.
A week or so ago, my fellow DSD blogger, Jay Stringer, wrote a post that really resonated with me:
"Everyone wants to tell you what writing is. 'Writing is rewriting.' 'Writing is not writing.' 'Writing is writing.' 'Writing is a water-based ball game usually played on Mars.' In 2013, as I finished that book, I decided that writing is getting to the end."
Reading this, I realized that it doesn't matter what I decide to write next--it only matters that I get to the end. That I finish it, and hopefully, within a six month time frame. I have two unfinished manuscripts, both of which have similar commercial appeal. But there's one I'm more passionate about, so that's the one I'm choosing. On Monday, I began plotting it, and since I like to go forward with a fairly detailed outline, a month from now I'll re-start the writing of it. I'm looking forward to finishing it, then moving on to the next book, and the next one.
Because I'm a writer, dammit, and I finish my shit.


Dale T. Phillips said...

Holly- hello again, and further congrats on the book deal. While there are a number of folks who can get to the end of one book with enough struggle, repeating that feat puts you in a higher category. And yeah, the more books you get out, the more practice you get, and so the faster they get written (in general). When you've lived in another world for so long, you can tell more of those worldview stories in a shorter time frame.

December saw the release of a novel I'd had laying around for 35 years, which had flaws that I hadn't been able to fix. Finally having the skillset to make that a decent book was quite a boost. Now I'm tearing up the keyboard with book #4 of my Zack Taylor series, and yet mapped out the whole plot for a completely different standalone, which almost made me want to stop the one I was on and do the new one in a blaze of glory. So many ideas, so little time.

Now that you have your foot in the door, it's time to push through and own the place! So glad you're at the finish and publish stage- looking forward to the release of Mistress, and the follow-up. So exciting to have all the good stuff ahead!

Holly West said...

Thanks, Dale! There was a time not long ago when I didn't think I could write one novel, let alone two! So yeah, the experience gained in writing one, two, then three and so on makes a difference. Good luck to you!