I’m about to start work on something new. Two somethings, in fact. Three, in a way. Maybe even five. One of those projects is a single novel, and another is a trilogy of sorts. The third or fifth, depending on whether you count a trilogy as one project or three, is a little spree of short stories I’ve been looking forward to writing for a long time now.
This is the problem I have after I’ve finished a novel, and have spent a bit of time outdoors with my family, and at last turn my mind towards what happens next. I’ve always found it detrimental, in the final months of work on any project, to think too much about what I’ll do once it’s finished. Those last redrafts and edits can be quite exacting, as I rework sections I’ve already reworked a hundred times, and comb through the text for inconsistencies and oversights. In other words, that final stage can be rather dull, and my creative side is desperate to throw itself into new invention. I dare not indulge it, or I might never have the strength to go back and finish the old stuff. Instead, I store up the ideas I’m having, and try to forget about them until the decks are clear.
Once the decks are clear I feel a sense of pressure.
Here I am, free to chase new stories and see where they lead me, free at last to explore and build and just plain enjoy brand new ideas, and I get cold feet. I know what an enormous task it is to write a novel. How long it takes. I don’t want to pick the wrong idea. I don’t want to find myself in a narrative dead end, nine months from now. I suspect there are a whole host of simpler reasons for my hesitancy, too. Maybe I’m just a bit lazy, and would rather take some more time off before I get addicted to some new world or set of characters. Maybe I’m pre-emptively terrified of the reception the idea might get, or of the headspace it might lead me into and how that might change me as a person.
To try to press on undaunted, I’m going to keep my options open. I know the story of the standalone project, but it’s something of a historical thing and I’ll need to do some research before I can start writing it. I know the world for the three-book project, because it’s something of a fantastical place and that world’s been glowing in the back of my mind like a full moon. Therefore, I’m going to read history books and sketch out story arcs and draw pictures of monsters until I feel safe enough to commit to one book or the other.
I’ll let you know how I get on.