Over the past few weeks, I’ve been very good at keeping to my schedule for both novels. I intend to send the revised Artisan back to the publisher by the end of May and I’m already two thirds of the way through. The Six Month Novel Programme gives me a detailed schedule for Colours and I’m not having too much trouble keeping up with that. But making revisions to one novel while drafting a second is proving more difficult than I anticipated.
Revising and drafting are two very different writing skills and require two very different writing mindsets. The first needs careful attention to detail, keeping track of what effects changes might have, and the weighing of each sentence to judge its worth. The second needs abandonment of doubt, the ability to forge onwards regardless of quality, and the uninhibited pouring of words onto the page.
On top of that, with two novel-length, multi-strand plots on the go, I also have to be able to switch between very different worlds when I move from one to the other. Artisan has more whimsy and more magic, while Colours is more real-world but with aliens. They have contrasting voices, tones and structures as well.
So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that editing four Artisan chapters and drafting eight Colours scenes per week is a challenge, even though it feels like I’m not really doing that much work at all, in terms of time spent on writing. It generally takes me about ninety minutes to complete my assigned novel-related tasks on any given day, but I then find I don’t have the energy, motivation or focus to work on anything else. So, my short fiction and my fanfic have rather fallen by the wayside during April.
But that’s okay. The novels are the priority at the moment, and I’ll be done with Artisan again by the end of May, which will give me more brain space to focus on the more difficult second half of Colours during June and July. Then, I’ll hopefully be ready to take a break from Colours by the time I get any further response from the publisher about Artisan. It’ll be nice to get back to only working on one of them at once.
I guess this is the life of a novelist! I assume they must always be working on different stages of at least two books at any one time. There wouldn’t be space in a yearly publication schedule for anything less. And I don’t think many novelists publish a lot of short stories as well, though I know some do produce those as well.
Of course, last week my brain decided to go off down a rabbit hole related to the next novel on my list, which I have a certain amount of material for, but which I wasn’t intending to look at again until at least 2020. So my brain apparently has ambitious plans for my writing, and it seems as if novels are what I’ll be mainly focusing on for the foreseeable future (I have a fourth and fifth on my list for eventual development).
And, as ever, it’s all about using the time I have available in a productive and efficient way, without driving myself too hard, and whilst paying attention to my need for pure relaxation time, as well as a busy social schedule and three days a week at my office job. It’s a lot to juggle, but I think I’m doing okay with it all at the moment. The most important thing is knowing when to let go of less important or less urgent projects without resenting the time and energy the novels are sucking up right now. If there’s a short story in my head (and there are at least a couple floating around at the moment), they’ll either still be there when I have time to dedicate to them, or they’ll dissipate without attention. There are plenty of submission opportunities coming up that I’ll likely decide not to take up. And that’s fine, not least because there will always be more later on.
The desire (and potential opportunity) to see Artisan published in the reasonably near future, and the need to have more material to show the publisher once we’ve hopefully established a relationship, are what’s driving me at the moment. It may sometimes feel repetitive and a bit of a grind. But it’s still where I want to be right now and I’m very lucky to have the ability to be able to pursue these dreams.