The last time I thought about writing something for myself was probably back in March when I last talked about Naming Names in this blog.
As a writer, writing my own stories was what I always wanted to do. I’ve done it twice... Strictly speaking, three times.
I wrote Savant, which has only ever been offered a digital contract, and, I suspect, only then because of my name and the husband’s pedigree. It’s an odd little book about parenting and autism. It’s too literary and too left field for the current SF market, though, according to a publisher friend of mine.
Then I wrote Naming Names, and we all know where that book took me.
I had more or less decided that I wasn’t going to put myself through it any more. Speculating is a tough business. It seems tougher when I can work regularly for decent money on stuff that’s commissioned and paid for.
The investment was too great when the returns were non-existent. It’s tough to take round after round of rejection, particularly for something I spilled blood over. It’s tougher still being built up to expect something more, and then to have the rug pulled out from under my feet.
So, for six months I’ve worked on other things, and I’ve been happy doing it.
The problem is, there are stories in my head, and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
For some people it’s about the writing. For the husband, it’s about the writing, and I get that. I feel it too, some of the time. I have to feel it, otherwise I couldn’t invest in the projects I commit to.
In the end, though, for me, it’s about having a story to tell.
It begins with a nugget, a premise, the merest suggestion of an idea. I get a flash of something, and I say to the husband, “I want to write a story about the seven deadly sins.” He’ll inevitably ask me what the hell that even means, and I won’t know... not yet.
That’s what this is like.
I’ve got that feeling.
I haven’t written a project of my own for almost exactly a year, and the last independent project was actually suggested by someone and something else, so I'm not sure how much it counts. Either way, I haven’t been as vulnerable as I feel right now for what feels like a long time.
I’ve been busy, and I’ve been ignoring that gut feeling, though. I’ve been ignoring it, partly because it doesn’t buy the baby a new bonnet, and partly because I know the cost of writing a book like Names.
I’m beginning to wonder, though, just how long I can keep this stuff at bay. It’s all in my head, and it’s beginning to clamour for attention.
The trouble is, it’s not just one book any more... It’s not just one idea... This shit is piling up. There are at least three almost fully formed novels in there now, and they’re fighting for space.
The Winter Lamb, Pieces of Hate and White Work are banging around in my head, and I know the time will come when I have to do something about them.
When I put Naming Names away after trying to find space for it in the World for three years, I thought I was done... I thought I could stop torturing myself.
It turns out it’s not about torturing myself, it’s about the stories torturing me.
So, sometime soon, I’m going to have to put aside some time, pick a story, and set about opening a vein. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t do it, and I’m guessing that this will be another novel that will be unsaleable in the current publishing marketplace, because, apparently, that’s how I roll.
Trouble is, it’s beginning to look as if I simply don’t have a choice.