I’ve written before about the dangers of the Shiny New Idea.
But this post isn’t about that. Or rather, it is, but I’ve got the hat on backward today. When you’re writing to deadlines, there are a number of expectations.
1) This book will logically follow the last one in the series.
2) It will be consistent with prior characterization and worldbuilding.
3) It will, more or less, keep the promises you made in the synopsis when you sold it.
It’s wonderful to have contracts and deadlines; I’m grateful to have multiple editors, multiple publishers, but at this point, they have certain expectations of me. I’ve earned a reputation for always turning my work in on time. I’m known for producing a certain type of book. When you add all those expectations up, pound for pound, they can be become exhausting. And daunting.
Have ever heard that you should change your shampoo brand now and then? Because if you don’t, if you use the same product day after day, then you’ll eventually get build up on your hair, and it’ll start looking dull and lifeless? I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but my hair definitely looks shinier if I use a shampoo that strips out the residue, or if I switch brands for a while. Either way, I see results.
And my writing brain is that way as well. I can only write to deadline for so long on contracted material until I feel like a caged parakeet, singing madly, but only to one tune. Then I get all sad, and I wish somebody would put a cover over my cage because I am so done with singing. Forevah! (In this analogy, singing is writing. Still with me? Good.) While I’m frantically writing to make my deadlines, I am fortitude itself. I resist the Shiny New Idea. I avoid its come-hither glances.
But sometimes I just have to let it seduce me. Why? Because I need to remember the magic. I need to experience the joy of writing for its own sake. Not for money or for publication or to make my editor happy or to tie up loose ends in a series for my readers. All of those things are important, of course, but they’re not more important than loving my job. Otherwise, this will turn into drudgery, and I might as well be working in a cubicle.
So while I revise a novel this summer, I’m also writing a book on spec. (That means nobody knows about it. Nobody wants it. It’s just for me. And for my daughter, whose abso-bloody-lutely genius idea I’m working from.) The cool thing about this Shiny New Idea? The writing is easy, like making love to someone you’ve been with for years. I don’t drive myself to meet word count goals; there are no goals. There’s only the love of the characters and the story, the urgent, desperate need to find out what happens next, who says what, how it ends. There’s the gasp of sweet satisfaction when a twist surprises me, and the rise of tears when I realize this nascent, wobbly thing could someday be utterly beautiful.
It’s falling in love; that’s what it is. And you need that feeling like air, like water, to carry you over the rough spots, when duty weighs heavy and the deadlines feel too hard. So far, I’ve written over 13,000 words in four days. I’m not trying to do it by a certain date. I’m not racing. I’m just in love, and I can’t stop thinking about these magnificent people who live in my head. Maybe one day, this special, secret WiP will be an actual for-sale book, but right now, it’s not about that at all. It’s for the magic, the mystery, of creation.
So what’s your current obsession? (I’m inviting you to share something that enchants you about your WiP, but you’re allowed to discuss other things. *g*)