Now that I’ve turned in another revision on We Are Totally Normal and am correspondingly one step closer to (and only a few months away from) having put the book completely to bed, I am on the hunt for my next project.
This is nothing new for me. Some authors are so brimming with ideas that they can leap directly from one novel to the next. If Anthony Trollope (one of my favorite authors) completed a novel before finishing his daily allotment of pages, he would immediately begin the next one. And you can see exactly how, for him, that’s possible. Trollope basically takes a bunch of characters and turns them loose on the page to fight things out.
I find that hard to do. I have plenty of ideas, but ninety-nine out of one hundred fall apart once I actually start working on them. Thus, there’s always a period of some months where I really have no idea what I am doing.
It’s no secret to long-time blog readers that I find these months extremely unpleasant. For the past three years, ever since I finished working on Enter Title Here and seriously started looking for my next book, I was also under contract to Disney, I also felt considerable pressure to satisfy my publisher and complete my contract. That effort turned out to have…mixed results. (You’ll note I’m not with Disney anymore). The process produced We Are Totally Normal, my second book, but it was so unpleasant, so pressure-filled, and so filled with false starts, missteps, and abandoned novels (I wrote five probably-never-to-be-published novels in between ETH and WATN) that I would like, if possible, to streamline the process.
This past summer, I wrote a novel for adults that also turned out to have substantial flaws, though I did repurpose it as a novella (which I quite like) that’s probably unpublishable because of its length.
All of this searching is pretty exhausting and anxiety-provoking, and I made the resolution, over Thanksgiving, that I’d let my next project develop more naturally. This, to me, means putting less pressure on the process. It means less agony and more playing-around.
So far I’ve only been partially successful. I spent the morning doing some good writing, just some sketches and scenes, exploring stuff I might like to write about in the future, but then I spent the afternoon worrying about everything I’d written.
That’s the thing that drives me crazy. The constant obsessing about the novel–the struggle to shape every piece and force everything into place. I sometimes think this is what also makes me jump into a project before it’s fully ready, which in turn means that the end result isn’t quite as complete and complex as it ought to be. So this time around I’m going to try to tame the beast. But who knows if I’ll succeed. Probably not.