Earlier this fall, inspired by all the beautiful knitted garments on Outlander, and jealous of the patterns springing up on Twitter and Facebook, a friend and I decided to learn how to knit. I quickly picked up how to knit and purl, learned how to do garter stitch and stockinette stitch, ribbing and cabling. And just as quickly got bored of working on scarves. (Although my cat Turtle enjoys playing “catch the needles/tangle the yarn”)
Within a couple days, I was surfing YouTube and Ravelry, looking for other stitches to master, other patterns I could make. As I explained to our instructor the next week about how I used to do pulled-thread embroidery and how I often kept several projects in rotation as I quickly got bored working on a single project at a time, I had an epiphany. The aha moment I had was “OMG so why have I been limiting myself to writing a single story at a time? Maybe that’s what’s helped kill some of the joy in writing lately.”
You see, before I got published, I would work on multiple stories, rotating through them depending upon my mood. Or which character was most talkative. Yet from the moment I got my first publishing contract back in 2008 until this August, I felt it imperative to only work on the next book due in a series. I’d stare at the same blank or mainly blank screen for hours and hours. I’d write five hundred words today, decide none of it was working and delete ten thousand I’d already written. (Seriously, that’s not hyperbole.) As you can imagine, it was incredibly frustrating. Especially as deadlines loomed closer and closer.
So I decided to change up my method. To rotate through various stories to keep myself fresh. I’m still working on the final book in my Grady Legacy series five days a week, but when I need a break or if I’m finding myself stalled, I’ve given myself permission to work on other stories at the same time. I work on Wrangling the Past 5 days a week, but when those characters stop talking, or when I feel like I need some distance and time to let issues in that story mull over, I’ve been re-vamping a couple of old stories, and making notes on some new ones.
Back in 2008, I wrote FIRST NIGHT, a 4100 word short story as a prequel to Private Property as part of a Samhain Christmas promotion. I’ve added about 3000 words and updated it. (It’s surprising how much I’ve learned about writing in the last six years.) The new version is out with my beta readers right now, and it still has to go through an editor to make sure the grammar and punctuation is in proper form, but it should be released before the end of the month. I’ll be making it available on Amazon and B&N and the other third party vendors instead of just on my website.
I’m also working on Quinn’s story, a secondary character from FEEDING THE FLAMES. There’s no deadline for Quinn, so I can pick his story up and put it down as I need to while I’m working on WRANGLING THE PAST.
And to really stretch my creativity, I’ve decided to go back to my roots. In the early 2000s, when I first “came out of the writing closet” and started working with a critique partner, I was writing a fantasy series. So I’ve decided to go back to the fantasy genre, and plan to have a novella out as part of a Holiday bundle at the end of next year. If it is well received, or even if it isn’t I want to write more in that world.