Taking Longer

It’s weird. I’ve averaged writing more or less a book a year for the last eight years:

My first published novel, Taking Comfort, came out in 2006.

Then Gentle Axe was published in 2007.

Vengeful Longing came out in 2008.

Then I had a year without a a book coming out. That was 2009.

Then the publisher said where’s your new book. And I said, you didn’t commission it. So they commissioned another two and:

A Razor Wrapped in Silk came out in 2010.

The Cleansing Flames in 2011.

Change of publisher, which led to:

Summon Up The Blood coming out in 2012.

Mannequin House also 2012.

(That’s right. I wrote two books in one year. A book every six months is possible. Actually, I allowed myself three months for each book, with three months in between to do some freelancing. So theoretically, I suppose, I could write four books in a year. If I had nothing else to do.)

Then the last book I’ve published, The Dark Palace, came out in 2014. January 2014, to be precise.

It feels like a long time since I’ve had a book coming out.

I feel bereft. (Trying to put a more precise word to it than “weird”.) But also I feel liberated. I miss the thrill and excitement of having a new book come out. But I don’t miss the anxiety.

It’s not that I haven’t been busy. I’ve been working on a new novel, which just happens to be taking me longer than any of my previous books. Maybe I’m slowing down in my old age. Maybe I’m getting lazy.

Actually I’m enjoying taking my time over it. I know there are writers who do produce 4 books a year. Or even more. This is the model in the self-publishing ebook age. The more you churn out, the more money you make. Apparently that’s the mathematics of being an author now, and trying to make a living at it. Or at least it is for many authors. Not the elite few who produce mega-bestsellers with every book they write.

Anyhow, I decided to go in the opposite direction. To take as long as it takes. And it’s taking long.

For the first time in many years, I’m writing a book without knowing if anyone will want to publish it. I don’t have a contract. That’s a little nerve-wracking. Maybe nobody will want to publish it. And it will turn out to be a huge waste of time and effort. (Although whatever happens, I will still have created something that didn’t exist before.)

On the other hand, writing without a contract also means I’m writing without a deadline.

Writing without a deadline means I can take my time over it. Which is just what I’m doing.

I’m taking my time over the research. It’s another historical novel. So there’s a lot to read. It feels like a luxury to be able to do as much reading as I need. But it shouldn’t be a luxury. It’s part of the job after all.

I’m also taking my time over the writing. On writing days, I usually manage 1,000 words a day. The year I wrote two books, I averaged 2,500 words a day, and I was writing every day. Now I can only devote two days a week to my writing because of work commitments. So progress is naturally a lot slower. But that’s OK.

Yes, I want to finish the book. But also I’m enjoying writing the book. And if I wasn’t writing this book, the chances are I would be writing another one.

There’s also the fact that once I finish it, I have to decide what to do with it. Which will inevitably mean trying to get it published. And if I am lucky enough to find a publisher, then I’ll have all the anxiety of another book coming out to deal with. And if I don’t find a publisher, the depression of rejection.

But because this book has taken me longer than usual to write, the angst will be all the greater. So too, the depression.

For the time being, I guess I’ll just enjoy the writing…


2 thoughts on “Taking Longer”

  1. michael gregorio

    Enjoy the freedom now, Roger. As soon as it’s published, they’ll be chasing you for the sequel!

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