Firstly, an apology for not blogging so much recently. There’s been plenty going on and blogging time has been relegated down a priority list that looks like this:
1. Baby Daniel,
3. writing the new book,
4. the day-job,
7. seeing friends and family,
8. and finally this blog.
If I get a spare twenty minutes, then I get to write a blog entry, which hasn’t been so easy recently, and I doubt will get much easier. I’ll persevere because I enjoy blogging and it’s a great way of keeping in touch with readers and friends, but sure, blog entries here will be even fewer than before I expect, but unless I mention otherwise (in a blaze of vitriol and consternation) the fiction-writing side will continue unmolested.
So the good news is that the hand is getting better which has had a positive effect on the writing. It’s no longer about “how do I get the words onto the screen” now, but the “words” themselves, as I seamlessly use both the keyboard and the speech recognition software to write. I’m one breath away from completing the first third of the first draft of The Fortress of Black Glass; I’m over 40,000 words into it as it happens. Considering two weeks were lost with the dodgy hand not to mention getting used to the speech recognition software, my progress is better than I’d hoped for.
But even though I’ve hit a stride I’m reluctant to break from, break from it I must because matters of publishing must intervene.
Earlier this year I was handed the task to provide my editor with one chapter of the new book (a near-polished chapter that is), an outline for the book and a very brief outline for the next trilogy I have in mind… by October. Due to all things hand-related, the deadline has been extended, but regardless of my progress on the first draft of the new novel, the task remains uncompleted.
So after I finish Chapter 7 sometime this weekend, I’ll be returning to the matter of getting something to my editor as promised. It will mean doing something that won’t come naturally to me, something that probably wouldn’t feel natural to most writers: halting in mid-book to return to the beginning for a spot of polishing and redrafting. Over the next two to three weeks, I’ll be re-writing, chopping, trimming and grooming the first two chapters (“two chapters” because the first chapter won’t suffice to get a feel of the new book). I’ll also be cutting down the 40 page monster of a chapter-by-chapter outline of Fortress… to something more manageable and punchy; and then I need to write the brief outline for The Last Trilogy (which is shaping up to be like “Heroes” meets “Brian Aldiss’ The Hothouse” meets “Cormac McCarthy’s The Road”).
All whilst sitting in the middle of a first draft.
(Whatever stride I had found will be completely interrupted. Which is a bit of a bugger, but as I said before, it’s necessary.)
I’m fully aware that whatever I send to my editor will need to be the best work I’ve ever written. I’ll need to sell myself like never before, and I’m feeling the pressure. It’s not unwelcome, it’s not uncomfortable, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel nervous about it, not because I think what I’m writing will be crap – I’m confident that what I write will be the best of my abilities – but because it’s getting tighter and tighter amongst the mid-list authors and more and more seem to be falling from publishing-grace, their books cancelled, their contracts torn up.
It’s getting more competitive in here.
All authors - save the lucky few who have been embraced by the public and carried to bestsellerdom - need to raise their game. Some have been arrogant to believe they are untouchable, and have seen contracts torn up in front of their eyes, while others have taken publishing for granted and now reside in limbo. Some have not delivered, and again face being without a seat when the music stops, or those that have, have not been lucky enough to sell in sufficient quantities and in an age when every pound counts, fiscal matters have curtailed careers.
So I’m raising my game mid-sentence, mid-book. I’m going to work my arse off to write something that will sell both this book and the next trilogy (or trilogies, if you include another Secret War threesome I have planned) to my publisher, so they can’t say no.
Which will probably mean even fewer blog entries here…