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Step Right Up!

I will admit: I’ve been all over the place creatively in the last few weeks.  Let’s review, shall we?

There’s my current novel – finally completed and being edited all to hell before I finally give it to my beta readers – which will not be before the end of the year as I’d hoped, though I am the one solely responsible for creating that deadline.  Once they’ve submitted their input, there’ll be a second round consisting of edits of the most heinous literary crimes I’ve committed before the manuscript is submitted for professional editing/critiquing/gnashing of teeth.  However, while the beta readers are doing their part, I’ll be working on what shall temporarily be known as Book Two.

No, that doesn’t mean that it’s a sequel to the current novel. It just means Book Two of my publishing efforts. Ironically enough, said novel is the one I temporarily placed on hold to work on the current book…when an idea sparked a fire in my crazy brain that wouldn’t let go until four months had passed and the book was finished.

Book Two has a long history.  It started out as a short story of about 40 pages or so, written more than twenty years ago.  I don’t readily recall the reasoning behind its creation, nor do I remember why I thought it needed a second glance, but I decided to return to the story a few years after it was written and expanded it into a novella.  Still somewhat enamored of the overall story and feeling that the novella wasn’t doing it justice, I returned yet again and fleshed the story out into a full-length novel…to a point.

Once about 411 pages in, I hit a roadblock.  Yes, the beginning was the same and at the time I planned to keep the original ending.  However, there was a section leading to the ending that didn’t quite connect the way I wanted it to, and I ended up stuck…for a long time.  The novel was eventually set aside and I’ve written thousands of pages of material since then on varying projects.  I always thought of Book Two, though, particularly when listening to music and a song from my soundtrack (I’ve mentioned how I write to music) would play during a random shuffle, but those thoughts never bore fruit.  Years passed and the novel remained unfinished.

Almost two years ago, I was sitting on my sofa working on something when my mind wandered.  Music was playing (it’s always about music, isn’t it?) and, as I sat back to listen, the melody coaxed a series of scenes from my imagination that pieced together to form a continuation of my novel and a redesigned ending. I couldn’t believe it!  I was bursting with happiness – this was it!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be that easy.

Yes, the ending to the novel was completed and, because it had been awhile since last I reviewed the rest of the story, I knew I’d need to read it from the very beginning to ensure that it was cohesive.  Sure, the story flowed together well for the most part, but there were entire sections that I forgot I’d even written and I realized…they would not do at all.  I’ll even go as far as to say that one particular chapter was downright awful and I wonder what my state of mind was at the time it was written.  I don’t mean that the quality of the writing was awful. But, the actions of one of the characters was cruel to the point of – going back to it years later and reading with “fresh” eyes – being a shock to me.

I love this novel – obviously, since I’ve worked on it so much over the years – and I’ve learned how to see things both as the author and as a reader.  Neither side of me is ready to give the full Stamp of Approval on the project, and that is why I’ve taken the extra time to make sure it gets to where I know it can be.  It was during the final editing process of the revamp that the idea for the current book hijacked my brain, but Book Two has always been in my thoughts.

Of course, now I can dive back into it.

Once Book Two is in the hands of the beta readers, there’s even more to come.  I’ve conceptualized a three-part series of novellas, a duo of standalone novels, and a period piece of historical fiction that’s been haunting me for the last four years or so. I haven’t decided the order in which these will be written/published just yet.  I’ll wait to see which of them speaks the loudest when the time comes.

Eventually, when I have the gumption and a good supply of coffee, there is a massive undertaking that I can’t wait to tackle. It consists of an eight-novel series, half of which is already written, and the other half of which is in a combination of completion and outline form.  The sheer body of work and the hundreds (!!) of pages of synopses, outlines, and concordances…thrills me.  Some of the notes, scribbled on the fly during the moments I was away from my computer, will have to be either scanned in and transcribed, or just typed directly into a document. I have an 18-gallon tote filled with such notes, and converting those from longhand will be a project in itself.  Trust me – I’ve already used dictation software, and that was an exercise in hot tea, lozenges, and warm compresses every weekend for a month.  I don’t know how audiobook narrators do it.

Let’s not forget my Writer’s Block exercises! I am way behind on those, having already selected some, yet posted none!

Oh – and soon enough I’ll stop referring to “the current novel” as such. Yes, it has a title. No, I won’t say yet what it is.