Sunday, March 31, 2013

Following a Passionate Schedule

We writers are funny folks.  We hop from one project to the next, knowing that each one is a plague we cannot escape from.  However, we willingly fling ourselves into the wasteland of writing book after book, sometimes not even waiting until one project is complete before we move to the next one.
(Sometimes it feels like our writing takes us to some unsanitary places)
As the three people who read this blog know, I'm working on a new novel that I expect to be done by the end of April.  Since I'm a big believer in building an inventory, and I won't be putting anything out until I get back to the mainland in about two or so years, I intend to begin working on the novel after Schism somewhere around the 4th of July holiday.  I had plans for exactly which novel that would be...until recently.

I've written many times that the second novel I intend to put out, Salvation Day, is my best work.  And although I was satisfied where the story ended, I always knew I'd go back to it one day and work out the next story in that adventure.  I planned for its sequel to be the next novel I was going to work on.  Now keep in mind that I had no idea how I was going to get from A to B in the story, and in fact had only a vague idea what A would even be, but I felt confident that the story would come to me and I could make it work.
(It just needs the right fuel to keep churning stuff out)
However, a different idea came into my head(I know...shocking).  Lots of my book ideas come from random fantasies that pop into my head, and those fantasies tend to stay there for a long time.  Well, I've been pondering one for a while, and please don't ask how I came up with something so strange - if you can figure that out, you should be making tons of money as a top therapist, not slaving away as a writer.

I've skipped around in a lot of different genres, from horror to paranormal to science fiction.  My next idea goes back to my roots in science fiction.  I started thinking about a world where we were attacked by a swarm of organic machines that sought out life in order to destroy it.  What would happen when they overran our world?  Could humanity survive in the face of total annihilation?

However, I also realized that such a theme had been done lots of times before, so I started fantasizing from a different angle - what if we'd been driven from our planet, and now, several thousand years later, we were back to reclaim it?  What if we'd built an empire somewhere else and now sought revenge, driven by a primordial need to return to our homeworld?  And assuming we succeeded, what would that world look like?  If we didn't take every human with us in our flight, how would the survivors' descendents react to our return?

I realized I'd grown passionate about such a novel.  I also realized that passion isn't something you forsake, so I will put the next chapter in Salvation Day aside for another time.  I went to the well once and wrote a book I hadn't thought out enough in advance, and I'm certain I need to go back and do some extreme revision.  This new project, though, will be something I'm into from day one.

Yes, this is a few months off, but it proved to me that I have to allow the Muse to lead me to stories sometimes rather than force her to go place she doesn't want to go.  After a brief hiatus, I will delve into the next work on an idea I wasn't planning on getting to for a while.  This will allow me to write passionately on a story I believe in, and it'll allow me to marinate the next Salvation Day story a bit longer so it's more ready for primetime when I do write it.

We can all have whatever schedules we want, but we also have to recognize when that schedule is no longer valid.  As was said in the movie The Golden Child when Eddie Murphy's character said he thought he was supposed to stay on the path, the response is always, "Yes, but you have to know when to break the rules."

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