Sunday, August 4, 2013

The thousand-yard stare.

I need to go for a bike ride or something.
I’ve got that thousand-yard stare. Maybe even a thousand-year stare, for I have been working far off into the future.

Having just completed a novel of 62,650 words in about forty-nine or fifty days, I can finally sit back and figure out what to do next.

It’s a nice, quiet little science fiction novel. Insofar as submitting it goes, I owe it to myself to try. An advance would be useful and a traditionally-published book would bring some glamour to the operation and get space in bookstores, with all the cachet of whatever imprint.

My next project is the third in the Maintenon Mystery Series. I have all kinds of ideas, and if I can just stick to my present routine I could probably have another novel/manuscript by about October 1.

So I’m preparing the SF book for submission. That gets it out my hair immediately, with no thought of self-publishing that one for a year or more. Generally speaking, response times vary from four months, to eight months, and one rejection came in two years later.

The mystery novel will be self-published. That still leaves me time in 2013 to write a bunch of short stories. If I could do twenty stories in a week I would be happy to have them. I probably have at least a dozen or more short stories under submission right now. They get rejected, I submit them somewhere else. Every so often I stick one up on my blog.

On my desktop or in folders are a number of unfinished projects, including ‘Whack ‘Em and Stack ‘Em,’ a parody thriller novel. That sits at about 13,000 words, so it’s already got a good start. I could just peck away at that one. There are one or two other stories as well, of varying lengths.

The trouble with writing a novel in such a short time is maintaining that focus. It requires producing a good two thousand words a day for about five or six weeks, although at the end the pace slows a bit and then the rereading and editing process is slower still. Life sits still for no one and leaving out personal details, everyone around here faces all kinds of challenges on all kinds of levels.

Life is like that sometimes.

You may have had a similar experience.

Escaping to another world, one completely under my control, has its uses when the stress levels begin to build. Any pressure to perform stems completely from within. No one puts a gun to our temple and makes us do this. Focusing on what’s inside the book helps me to forget about everything else, if only for a couple of hours.

It takes a kind of persistent focus, working day in and day out according to some semblance of a routine. I don’t claim any great work ethic. This is what I like doing, and without it I might be bored out of my skull.

My first two books took ten months to edit. Now I’m doing it in less than a week. That is the value of writing your brains out and studying the craft, not just of writing, but editing, proof-reading, fact-checking, research and even publishing.

This is my eleventh novel and I start number twelve in a week or so.

In the meantime, I need to go off bike riding or something. I really do.

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