I’m in the last stages of the current novel I’m writing and I have entered the zone of “I Don’t Want To Do This Today.” I get that way from time to time, especially with a long project like a novel. I’m writing the sequel to Granger’s Crossing and I reached 66, 000 word this morning. My brain is a funny thing in that when I reach the end of a chapter, everything just shuts down for the day. If I manage to squeeze out a sentence or two on the next chapter, I know I will probably rewrite it the next morning. It has ever been this way. Fortunately, when I get on a roll, I can do a chapter every two days.
But this is a different problem, in that I generally do not want to write the next chapter because I am very tired. So the las few chapters will be rushed and thin as I push to get to the end of the book. I know I’m going to do thorough rewrite, so it no longer bothers me, and since I no longer write on dead-line, it really doesn’t matter that much. (I have my own internal dead-line, though, which tends to make me crazy when I can’t get a move on.) It’s as if on some level my subconscious has decided that I ought to be done already and is ready to relax. It becomes a bit of a fight with my innate laziness and my desire to produce a good piece of work.
This one has been a particularly difficult challenge. See, I wrote Granger’s Crossing about eleven years ago. It never got any traction anywhere, so I shelved it and went on to other things. Over time, I even got rid of some of the books I had on hand to research the period. I put my notes over there, certain files over here, and generally let everything become scattered. So when Amphorae asked to see it and then decided to take it, I thought it would be a good idea to write the next book, just in case.
Which meant I had to reconstruct all that research. As a result, it took longer to get started on the actual book and here it is almost a year later and I’m just now to the point of seeing the end.
Still pretty quick, but if I were still working a day job, I wouldn’t be nearly this far along.
At least I knew (more or less) what I wanted to write about in the second book.
Of course, the plot has gone in unforeseen directions, with details I never imagined, and research requirements that have led me to some odd corners.
But I am at this moment pretty exhausted. I don’t want to be, but I have no control over it. I can well understand how some writers might give up at this point, feeling that they have lost the golden thread. And truth be told, there are some projects that are not worth the effort, but it’s hard to know which those are. I have habituated myself to slogging on. I will finish. (Actually, the current book is shaping up to be kind of cool in several unexpected ways.)
I have added a new item of advice for those times when I may be dispensing it to newish writers. Specifically, if you’re writing historical fiction, do not wait a decade before starting on a sequel. entropy is real, and it works on the imagination as well as the filing system. Had I back then just gone ahead and put some of this on paper, it would have been much easier. I think.
On the other hand, I may just be a bit better of a writer now than then, so…
Trade-offs are part of the process. One, for instance, is that while I’m working on this I’m working on nothing else. I don’t want to risk pulling out of the headspace for an historical to try to do science fiction just now. I don’t know if that might not result in a conceptual train wreck. I’m close enough to the end of the book now, though, that I don’t feel too bad, and since I just placed three new short stories (all written before I dived into this) I feel I can spare the attention.
The question now is….do I just go ahead and write the third one when I’m done?