Friday, October 22, 2010

Que Sera Sera (Or Don't Chase Markets)

I went to see The Man Who Knew Too Much (1955 version) in a real theater today. I really wanted to have my current work-in-progress (The Man Who DID Too Much) done by this time, I meant to have it done in March, actually.

But I got derailed.

What happened this spring was this: I set aside Man Who to chase the market.

Chasing the market is always a sucker's game, but it's partly built into the mindset for traditional publishing, because the process takes so much time. There's so much downtime, and all you can do is strategize on how to use it well. Make sure that you're ready with the right thing if the editor expresses an interest! Make sure you're ready if they don't!

But indie publishing isn't like that. It's fast and direct and organic. You actually have to build your own stalling mechanisms into it just to make sure you give the story proper time to mellow.

So when I started my ebook publishing experiment this spring, it made complete sense at the time (using my traditional publishing mindset) to pull out the drafts and outlines of the sequels to those older stories, and polish or finish them up right now. I knew that Man Who would require a lot of drawer time for the rewrite, plus I figured I shouldn't put yet another series out before I had any sequels ready, right?

Take advantage of my marketing momentum. Follow up! You must finish what you start!

But that killed me. I had writing momentum on Man Who. All those other books have been sitting in a drawer for so long, I had no momentum at all on them. The stories were cold, and required just as much dreamtime to get up to speed as a new story might. More, because I had to recover thoughts and threads I had long ago forgotten.

And I finally realized that I was doing to Man Who exactly what I'd done to those stories. I was setting it aside while it was hot, and chasing something else that was cold, and spinning my wheels excessively in the process.

So like the doctor in the joke says: "If it hurts when you do that, stop doing that!"

From now on I need to take advantage of writing momentum when I have it, and allow the time to build it when I don't. (And let the marketing momentum take care of itself.)

I have two weeks - and if life doesn't interfere, two long weekends - before NaNoWriMo starts. I don't expect to have a solid draft of The Man Who Did Too Much. I have been debating putting together at least a full but sketchy draft so that I could feel I've accomplished something by the end of the month. Then I could set it aside and do NaNoWrongMo* with some sense of satisfaction.

But I've changed my mind. "NEVER GIVE IN!" says Uncle Winston - and I will begin the second year of my ongoing novel dare of a blog by not giving in.

I think I'll make NaNo into a critique challenge instead. Because, see, every time I critique three chapters for my group, I can post a chapter. But to post a chapter, I need to have it done and polished too. So it starts here, and starts now. I critique a chapter every night - October 22 through November 30 - and that should give me sufficient focus and motivation to keep her going.

And then in December, maybe I'll do the article writing I was planning to do for NaNo.

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*NaNoWrongMo is what I call it when you don't actually set the goals you're supposed to set for NaNoWriMo. Their rules are just not conducive to good productivity, so I never actually sign up, but like all writers, I love the concept.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Good luck with the new challenge! Good idea to adapt NaNo as a critique challenge.