State of the Author
Want a peek into the wackiness of author brain? Okay, first of all, here are the things I’m working on right now:
- The Snow Queen’s Shadow — 42,000 words into the second draft
- Synopses for three books in a new series — I have some rough ideas for book one, and tentative titles for all three
- Article for the SFWA Handbook — need to review and finalize that one
Compared to many of my author friends, it’s a modest list. But it’s enough to keep me busy. Now guess which one of these projects my brain is stuck on. Go ahead, guess.
What I really want to work on right now … is a fake book review blog, authored by the protagonist of the unsold new series.
That’s right, my brain is stuck on the idea of posting extra “goodies” material for a character from a series that 1. I haven’t sold yet and 2. won’t appear until at least 2012 even when and if I do. It would be one thing if I was obsessing over the synopses, which I could at least get to my agent so we could try to sell the silly thing. But the protagonist’s blog? Really, brain? (I have the coolest title for the blog, too!)
I’ve also been obsessing about progress on Snow Queen. When we negotiated the contract, I asked for 14 months to write this one, which means my deadline isn’t until October 1. But I look back and realize I’ve been working on this book for eight months, and I’m a long, long way from being done. Given that I usually do three or four complete drafts, am I going to have time to get this one right? I’m wrapping up a series — this book has to be as good as I can make it.
It’s helped somewhat to remind myself that this is normal. I looked through last year’s blog posts and realized I didn’t even finish the first draft of Red Hood’s Revenge [B&N | Mysterious Galaxy | Amazon] until March 23. I finished draft two on June 8. I still rewrote it again and turned everything in by August 15, and even though I got frustrated and discouraged at times, I think Red Hood ended up being a damn good book.
It doesn’t make the stress go away. It doesn’t erase the fear that maybe this book won’t be as good as the last one, or that maybe I’m not a good enough writer to tell this story. But it does help to recognize that I’ve been here before. This is an unpleasant place to be, but it’s familiar, and I know I’ve gotten through it. Which suggests I can probably get through it again.
Even if I’d rather be doing site design for a book review blog.
April 21, 2010 @ 10:19 am
I know the feeling, Jim! I’ve got dozens of things that I want to do and my brain never wants to work on the project right in front of it.
One thing I do find helpful in that regard is to maybe spend a little time on that project that’s demanding your attention. Make some sketches, write down an idea or two… maybe a scene or blog post for fun. Whenever I take that route, my brain finally gives in and lets me concentrate on what I want to do.
It can still be difficult sometimes… and I don’t have your deadlines (except personal ones), so its probably a bit harder for you. 😉
April 21, 2010 @ 2:05 pm
I completely understand, Jim. I must say though, as I’m sure everyone else here would agree, we know you won’t dissappoint. You always do an amazing job on your work, and the last two stepsister books have come out fabulous. But I do expect a steamy romance scene between Talia and Snow. (c’mon, you have to be able to put that you’ve done a romance on your resume!) JK 🙂 Seriously, though, … think about it…
Jim C. Hines
April 21, 2010 @ 2:07 pm
Thanks, Chris. Steamy romance scene, eh? Well, it would probably help to draw in some new readers…
Jim C. Hines
April 21, 2010 @ 2:08 pm
A lot comes back to prioritizing. The contracted project with a deadline has to be the first priority, which can be frustrating sometimes. But I have been jotting down bits and pieces on the new series. It’s slow going, but it’s better than nothing.
April 21, 2010 @ 3:39 pm
Those kinds of goodies/extras are why author’s blogs exist!
No reason you can’t do the site/blog in your spare time… just keep it under wraps until you sell the book, then start revealing it piecemeal to build audience excitement.
(Says the guy who’s never been published, never released cool bonus content piecemeal, and never built audience excitement.)
The question that immediately comes to mind is: is the world of the story a contemporary setting, or is the existence of an in-character blog a humorous anachronism?
April 21, 2010 @ 7:19 pm
Oh, I COMPLETELY understand that feeling of “what if I’m not good enough to write this story?” But while I, never having even finished a novel, am justified to think that way, YOU ARE NOT! Your writing is fantastic and the emotions you convey through it always ring true and leave me with a satisfied feeling. Even if draft 1 isn’t quite where you want a particular scene to be, trust in the magic of your second draft editing skills–they’ve come through before and they will come through again, dagnabbit!! ;-D
As for your new series (!) muse, I say write out a few blog posts by your blogger character and just keep them saved in a file on your computer. Then, since you don’t want to get ppl excited too early, just store them until it’s closer to the publish date (and you’ve finished writing Snow Queen) to post them up on your fake blog. I say you should never sneeze at inspiration on the rare, precious occasions it strikes–write it and tide it over for us until the time’s right. 😉
Jim C. Hines
April 22, 2010 @ 9:02 am
Contemporary setting. The blog would actually be a part of the protagonist’s job in the book, though probably not a huge plot point.
Jim C. Hines
April 22, 2010 @ 9:03 am
Justified or not, most authors I know go through the same thing. I’ve even heard stories about Neil Gaiman calling up his agent with that same “This book isn’t working/maybe I’m not good enough” feeling. Intellectually, I know I’ve done this before and will most likely get through this one as well, but emotions don’t pay much attention to logic 🙂
April 22, 2010 @ 11:59 am
Ah! Was that from Neil Gaiman’s Nanowrimo pep talk a few years ago? The book in question at the time was “Anansi Boys,” right? Lol, I guess all authors do go through that bump in the process. That’s reassuring. Well, just plunge forward and trust in your editing skills, I guess. ;D Now if only I could take my own advice…
Jim C. Hines
April 23, 2010 @ 7:55 am
Aha! Looks like you’re right — thanks! I had heard it second-hand, but Gaiman’s pep talk is right there at http://www.nanowrimo.org/node/1065561
April 23, 2010 @ 2:44 pm
Yeah, that’s the one. It was one of my favorite pep talks that year–good advice there!