I’m generally a goal oriented person. When I’m working on a book, I try to stay on task, whether it’s the first draft or tenth. I want to get to the end, cross the finish line, put a checkmark on my to-do list.
But sometimes moving a book forward makes me feel like Sisyphus, with my damned rock stuck in a crevice. I try to stay focused, but all I’m producing is uninspired crap. It’s not long before I realize I’ve spent the last hour of my writing time looking at cute cat videos on Facebook.
While I was trying to interest an agent in my first novel Goddess, and when I subsequently prepared to publish it myself, I felt very disconnected from my creative side. My writing time was spent sending out query letters, working with a designer on a cover, and asking (i.e. begging) advance reviewers to take a look at my book. I know being a writer is at least 80% marketing, but it didn’t feel very satisfying.
To make myself feel better, I read through a screenplay that I wrote a decade or so before called Anywhere’s Better Than Here. It’s about an ambitious television reporter stuck in the most nowhere town in America. Her only hope of making it back to a major television market is by landing a big story with the help of a local yokel cameraman.
The script never quite worked as a straight comedy, but if I emphasized the two characters’ love/hate relationship more, I thought it would make a great romance novel. I worked on the script-to-book translation in my spare time. It was relatively easy – mostly fleshing out the characters and scenes. More importantly, it felt creatively satisfying. I almost finished the first draft of the book by the time Goddess’s publication date arrived.
But then I felt like I needed to start on book 2 of the Goddess trilogy. After all, I didn’t want to leave readers hanging, especially since I’d written a cliff hanger. I wrote an outline and the first few chapters, but I just couldn’t get inspired to go further. After beating my head against the wall for almost a month, I decided I needed another break. Anywhere was calling to me. I was still excited by the characters and the story. I was itching to keep writing. It felt right.
Now I’m part way through the second draft. It needs work, but I’m very pleased with most of what I’ve written. I feel a little guilty that I’m not working on Goddess, but being inspired is too great a high to let go.
Who else likes to have more than one iron in the fire? I’d love to hear how it works for you.