It’s better done one at a time, one after the other.
Perhaps it’s only my experience, and it’s worth bearing in mind that I don’t have a great deal of it, but I think, when it comes to writing, that any project is like taking a lover, particularly the novel.
When I begin a book, it’s all very intense and exciting. That never entirely goes away, but by the middle of the relationship things have settled and more practical questions come to light. When the end comes, which, I suppose it must, there is often dissatisfaction and sadness.
I simply don’t believe that I could carry on two relationships at once, work on two projects at the same time. I do it, of course. Inevitably, writing is interrupted by other things, whether it’s reading for the husband, or doing accounts, whether it’s editing a book or even having a new idea. I write other things, too. I simply never cut myself in half by running two full blown projects side-by-side. I never take a second lover.
I write this blog, which is like having a lunch break, say from my regular job, or like a drink after work with the girls before going home to the lover that is my latest project. I write short fiction, too, which is more like kissing the dishy colleague at the Christmas party, with the lover in the room than it is like having an affair, but there’s still guilt involved.
There are, of course, writers who are promiscuous, and even get away with it. The husband never works on one project at a time. At the very least he’s working on two or three projects, and he literally carves up his time between them. He’s a bit of a lothario, but no less effective. He can look every lover and every mistress squarely in the eye, and make them believe that they’re the only one, and while he’s with them, they truly are.
It’s not a man thing; it’s experience. He’s a professional. I’d never keep the names straight, I’d constantly be looking over my shoulder, my schedule would quickly become impossible, and, in the end my lovers would meet in the hallway. I’d never pull it off. I’d never keep everyone happy, and everything would fall apart. The husband, on the other hand, always manages to leave everyone happy and satisfied.
So, is it better to be a happy polygamist or a serial monogamist? In life, I’d like to think we’re both happy monogamists, but when it comes to work, the husband’s got a wealth of experience, and dozens of notches on his metaphorical bedpost. Me? Well, I’m only just beginning, so, you never know, maybe one day.