I have put a lot on my plate, partly in an attempt to be organized and partly because I am not organized at all. But between the projects I'm working on and the projects I'm planning (is that too strong a word? Planning? Or is it more wishful thinking?) I've got a lot of writing to do.
Are other writers like that? If any writers are actually reading this, I'd sure like to know. Maybe I'm nuts. But I did read recently about a best-selling author who constantly has 20 or 30 projects going at a time – each morning he chooses what to work on based on what he feels like working on. I don't recall his name but I recognized it at the time. Not King or Tom Clancy, but someone who doesn't have to worry about his schedule because everything he writes sells. Which hardly seems fair.
It's like that with me, although of course I don't have the luxury of knowing if anything I write will sell, which adds a dash of desperation to the whole enterprise. I try to keep focused on one thing at a time, but I still have plenty of live projects and even more waiting in the wings.
Here's what it looks like:
• The Bones in the Closet. The YA novel that's currently at the top of the list of "things to work on today."
• The Wreck of the Gladys B. The last YA novel I wrote, that's still without an agent. Spend a little time each week on queries. I'll talk about that another time.
• True Wench. This is actually Tori's project. She wrote it several years ago for a publisher who sought her out. Then he got caught in some other company's bankruptcy and the book never happened. So we've got this manuscript that needs a publisher, and I'm working on that.
• Chance. This was the first YA novel I wrote, and I really like it. It took a year to write, then my agent spent two and a half years not selling it. It had a couple of close calls, made it to the final meeting at one very big publisher, then got rejected for reasons I was never told. (I've always suspected it was because it had no teenage vampire love story. Just pirates.) No one said anything bad about it, at least not to me. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, but no one wanted to publish it.
• The Kate Project. My daughter Kate and I started something a year ago based on her world of manga and anime and various other Japanese words I don't know. It got put aside for more pressing work, but I really want to get back to it. We came up with some characters we really like, great characters, but realized we still had no story for them. So we gave them a rest, and we're going to try again soon. Because I've got a good feeling about it.
• The Curacao Caper. With Mark, this is the fifth of our Festering Boil Caper books. We've been working on this more than two years now, and we're close to done. But I think it may have sapped Mark's will to write. It just hasn't been fun like the others were. We sell them POD on lulu.com, and this will join them. It's been beer money, nothing more.
• The Next One. That's what I'll call it for now, the next YA novel I'll write, back to my pirate roots. It snuck up on me – I actually saw the cover in my mind before I realized it was my next novel. It's been hard not to jump in and start working on it. Is that how it is with most writers? Somewhere in the middle, the current project starts to seem like work and the next one glitters in the mind like an exciting new present to yourself, fresh and full of promise. Every time I have a few thoughts about it I jot them down so I don't forget anything. It's got this great scene near the end when the grandfather squares his shoulders and ... but that would be telling. No writing The Next One until I finish This One – which is Bones.
• The New Next One – This is the one where the character appeared full born in my head. Every time I think about him I learn something new. As soon as I finish the first draft of Bones I'm going to pound this out in an impossibly short time – 30 days. It'll be a good exercise, if nothing else.
And I've got notes and ideas for at least three other novels, queued up and waiting their turn. And there's always the possibility of sequels to both Chance and Gladys, if they ever sell. Not much point to a sequel to something no one's ever read. Then there's the movie treatment I wrote that I have to decide if I want to write the script of.
It's not like I don't love the book I'm working on now, although anyone reading along knows I'm kinda hung up on it. It's like your kids. You always love 'em, but sometimes they make you want to scream.