Next update February 27
Back from Vegas, poorer and none the wiser.
Well, the Super Bowl is over and it’s time to once again focus on doing “real work” before the NBA playoffs begin. This is sort of how my life works now – I go through stretches of solid productivity followed by long stretches of laziness and procrastination.
To be fair, I’m only partly to blame, though. At the moment the manuscript for Chaos Unleashed – the final volume in my Chaos Born trilogy – is sitting with my editors, and I can’t really do anything with it until they get back to me with their notes and comments. Knowing I will soon be doing some (hopefully minor) revisions on this project makes it harder for me to start something new – I’ve never liked working on multiple projects at once.
For various reasons, the last few years have played out in a similar fashion. I finish up a manuscript around October-November, then I decompress/relax through December and January. I take my annual Vegas Super Bowl trip, and when I get back I basically wait until I get my manuscript back from my editors before I even think about my next project. It’s not the most efficient use of my time, but it works.
This year, however, I decided to try and be more proactive. (Yes – I said proactive. I’ve decided to synergize my paradigm with these business buzz words.) I’m still not ready to commit fully to a new novel yet, but I’ve been putting together a collection of short stories that I’ve written over my career. In addition to doing some edits and rewrites to these tales, I’ve also decided to add a short introduction to each story that talks about where the idea came from, or elements of my writing style it illustrates, or other “authory-type” stuff. I’m hoping other would-be writers – and even readers in general – will find this glimpse behind the curtain entertaining and enlightening.
I’m happy to say that I’m putting the final touches on this short story collection, which I’m tentatively titling “A Minor Malevolent Spirit and other Tales”. I’ve mentioned before that three of the stories are previously published, but the other seven are seeing the light of day for the first time. I’m hoping this little side-project will be ready and available for fans to purchase – in digital and print formats – by next month. Obviously I’ll announce it here and on Twitter once it’s good to go.
I’m also planning out the early outlines for two new novels – one is an alternate-history conspiracy story set in Elizabethan England and the other a contemporary sci-fi tale. My goal is to finish off both of these novels by next Super Bowl, and I think I can pull it off. In the past I’ve limited myself to one book per year, but I think I can do better. Writing two books per year might sound impressive, but if I break it down it’s not that daunting.
It typically takes me about 200-300 hours of work to write a novel, from planning to finished first draft. Writing is hard work, so it’s unrealistic to expect 8 hours a day 5 days a week (at least for me!). But if I do 2 hours per night 3 nights each week, that’s only 50 weeks to write one book (2*3*50=300 hours). So if I can just get my lazy ass to the typewriter for 3 hours a night 4 days a week, that works out to 2 books in one year (3*4*50 = 600 hours = 2×300 hour book). Or maybe I can do 2 hours in the morning and 2 at night, 3 days per week. That also works out: 2*2*3*50 = 600 hours.
600 hours in a year. The average full time employee works 2000 hours per year. When I was at BioWare, there were years I put in 3000 hours! So it really shouldn’t be that hard, right? Well, I’m going to find out!
Of course, there will be plenty of distractions along the way. For example, this time of year is also when I start putting together my schedule for various appearances – cons, shows, festivals, etc. As of today, it’s looking very much like I’ll be attending Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, April 16-19. We’re trying to schedule a few book signings and maybe some other appearances, but the details are still up in the air. As usual, once I know more I’ll post it here and on my Twitter feed.
I haven’t really locked down anything else yet, but I’m hoping to get to a few events in different parts of the country… even if it cuts into my writing schedule. (See, I’m already making excuses!)
Okay, I guess that’s it for this blog. Hopefully by the next update I’ll have the short story collection finished, and I can talk more about it – and how you can get it into your hot little hands!