Testing the Writing Waters

Ambling here, stream-of-consciousness project consideration. I’ve wrapped the last of my contracts (though I do still have Anna’s revision of Hawkspar to do. I want to get back to writing fiction again. I’m considering directions.

I know Claire wants to look at a proposal for another EMT suspense novel; she really enjoyed I See You. I’ve sent one off to Robin, and after Claire transmits the stuff I sent her last night so that I’m cleared with accounting, Robin will pass that on to her. If she likes it, I’m golden and that will be by next project.

If she doesn’t like it, though, I’m in a quandary. Supportive editors who like your work are damned hard to find. There is, however, the consideration that another year like last year could very well break me. Not just financially, though that’s huge. I find that I’m queasy even considering going near another ten months of work and 140,000 words of unpaid proposals to sell a 90,000 word novel (as I did with last year’s Onyx Proposal), and I have to consider this time knowing when to say, “No more.” Do I do that after one proposal? Three? When the bank account is so drained that I end up doing another work-for-hire just to keep us solvent long enough to find something that she’ll take? Do I just keep going, making myself sicker and sicker of the whole process, as I did last year, until I hate the thought of even walking into the office? I love to write. I don’t want to go there again.

Quandary two is Faalca, the third stand-alone novel of Korre. Anna already okayed the proposal, but can’t buy the book until we have a better idea of how Talyn is doing. I don’t think we’ll know that until we have paperback sales, and I don’t know when the paperback will be released, but if they come out around the same time as the hardcover of Hawkspar, we’re looking at 2007 at the earliest.

Quandary three is the banquet of pendings on my table. I have delicious projects I want to sink my teeth into:

  • Ghosts & Gremlins, Inc., currently existing in proposal form as a scary/funny four-book series about a skeptical Southern ghost-hunting quartet faced with real evil, which could find itself collapsed into a one-book big fat novel;
  • Seven Accursed, a series about warriors who dared to battle the gods and who were cursed with immortality when they lost;
  • Cadence Drake II (not even a real working title, of course), where in the process of getting good false papers for her new ship, Cady would cross paths with Tangerine again, plus the increasingly mysterious cop who saved her life once;
  • C, the Secret Project;
  • A very cool juvenile fantasy series I unearthed from my hard drive, which I already sold once, before the line to which it had sold ignominiously tanked;
  • Worldbuilding Clinic;
  • Plotting Clinic;
  • Revise and Submit Clinic;
  • Any one of the five best of the dozen proposals that I came up with for Claire last year, all of which I’m still wildly in love with;
  • … or maybe a book starring one of a handful of fascinating people who are kicking around in the back of my mind, developing compelling stories.

So. What’s next? I have no clue. Something, clearly. My fingers aren’t restless yet, but they will be soon. I’ll let my mind wander for a bit while I catch up on non-fiction-writing work, and see what starts to coalesce.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

10 comments… add one
  • hollylisle Jan 15, 2006 @ 2:43

    On the proposal vs. first draft issue. Writing a first draft vs. writing a whole book is the difference between “Writing is my only source of household income,” and “Writing is the only source of household income.”

    Unlike a lot of full-time writers, I’m currently in the latter situation, which means that I’m constantly doing a delicate balancing act between “this is what I want to write” and “this will pay the electric.”

    A proposal, if it can be turned around quickly, permits the writer to fly something up the flagpole in a short time period and with minimal effort, and get money into the system. The time:effort:money difference between a ten page or twenty page (or two paragraph) proposal and a hundred-thousand-word manuscript is enormous.

    The problem comes when you’ve done ten months worth of proposals without bringing in any money. This is where nightmare lives. And having done just that thing last year, I’m gun-shy about the whole process now that I’m heading into it again.

  • MarFisk Jan 14, 2006 @ 14:28

    Holly,

    I certainly sympathize on the proposal nightmare, but I have a question. Maybe I’m missing something, but is there a reason you can’t send your editor a first draft rather than a proposal? The way I see it, if she passes then you’d be able to sell the novel elsewhere because she’d have passed and on the other hand, she might see the spark of the idea better in a more realized form. I know writing all those ideas that you proposed would have taken even more time, but it seems like writing the ideas would have been less of a strain on you and you’d still have a novel to send out to other publishers without breaking ties with your editor…am I missing something huge?

    /me still trying to figure out this whole proposal thing.

    Cheers,
    Margaret

  • MattScudder Jan 14, 2006 @ 11:13

    Rob cries out from the distant past… “Plotting clinic!!!!” And then fades back into the ether.

    But seriously, go with your gut. That’s what you would have told me back in the day. 🙂

  • hollylisle Jan 13, 2006 @ 13:15

    Heather — A big part of the worldbuilding clinic will be creating workable conlangs that don’t consume the author’s time and still give good, workable results.

  • TinaK Jan 13, 2006 @ 8:46

    Holly,
    Everything you write is fantastic. If faced in a store with what you have listed here I’d pick up and buy the first two idea “Ghosts & Gremlins, Inc.” and “Seven Accursed”.

    Personally I love your clinics but I’m the kind of person, when I have spare money in hand, I pick up fiction.

    Pick what feels right for you. I can totally understand you not wanting to go back to where you were last year. It’s a place NO ONE wants to be – writer or working in the corporate world.

    Be happy with what you do! And good luck.

  • mikaela_lind Jan 13, 2006 @ 6:57

    This might sound like a cliche but follow your gut instincts, without worrying about selling it. Write because it is FUN, for you.
    That is my advice.
    Good luck 🙂

  • nicolane Jan 12, 2006 @ 18:16

    May I put in my request for the story of Mary from your character creation clinic please?

  • Angela-Marina Jan 12, 2006 @ 14:56

    Well, I know how hard it is to work well when people are pressurising you, so I think you should do whatever feels right. I know this seems like a fairytale solution and I know what feels right has a good chance of not putting money in the bank, but I hope it does, as I absolutely love your work.

    I suppose if it were up to me, I would greatly appreciate it if you created some more clinics. I’ve only read the sample chapters of the eBook, and I’m planning on purchasing the print version if and when it comes out, however, I’ve read almost all of your articles and workshops and they’ve greatly helped me on my way to becoming a true writer.

    What I’d really like, if possible, is the Worldbuilding clinic. But preferably not just Fantasy or Sci-Fi worldbuilding, as I find it comes to me naturally. I think many people would benefit if you maybe included a small section on the more mundane worldbuilding (Which I personally, and others I know find very difficult). Like creating a fictional town or city for a Horror, Drama or Mystery. An ordinary kind of place.

  • Miss Nienke Jan 12, 2006 @ 13:58

    Do the clinics! Do the clinics!

  • heather Jan 12, 2006 @ 13:34

    This doesn’t have too much to do with your post, but I wanted to ask this for awhile. In reading your books (which I adore), I love the way you use languages. I was going through your “Questions about Worldbuilding” section and there was just a tiny paragraph about how you develop language. Basically it said you were working on a workshop about language, but it wasn’t finished yet. Any plans for that in the future?

    Thanks!
    Heather

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