If I could create a map of my writing projects and mark a trail through them, it would probably look as if I’m permanently drunk. I’m constantly jumping from the latest good idea to the next better idea. I have a past history of unfinished projects that says I’m doomed never to finish anything. Yet, miracle of miracles, I completed and published a book, a project so vast and overwhelming that I should have run away whimpering, to start something easier. How did that happen?
It’s the patchwork “formula,” which isn’t a formula at all, just the way my mind works. I came up with this concept a few years back, when I was writing articles for various websites, and making a bit of money. A very small bit. At any one time, I usually had six to ten articles in various stages of completion. As hard as I tried to make myself finish one article before starting another, I lacked whatever it takes to practice that kind of self-discipline. Even so, the good articles got finished, sooner or later, and the not so good dropped off the map.
Enter NaNoWriMo and the newly born novelist-to-be. And suddenly, there are piles of unfinished stories taking the place of articles. I should be panicking and despairing, but I realized that I’ve simply extended the patchwork formula to fiction. What made me think about this today? I started a new project yesterday — of course.
Here’s the way things look at the moment. I’m slowly working out the last chapter of Taryn (to be renamed Crossing Boundaries), the sequel to Hidden Boundaries, and more or less simultaneously working on a short story to wrap up the two novels. The Plan was to publish Crossing Boundaries and the short story in August, and go on to The Warden, last year’s NaNo novel, and try to get it published by the end of the year. The August goal is still live, but instead of the Warden, I’m probably going to drag out my first NaNo novel, Gift of Blood, which has been quietly nudging me for almost two years. Sounds straightforward, no? No.
Gift of Blood has a prologue and two interludes, historical bits which fill in some of the back story in a non-infodump way. So what did I just do? I extracted these three bits from the novel, and I’m expanding them into a short story, which will be a kind of prequel to the novel and its universe. Why? Because they’re just short vignettes that have always begged to be more fully developed, but would interfere with the movement of the novel if they were any longer. And because I need to get more work published, as quickly as possible.
Do I recommend this method of working to anyone else? It works for me. But unless you have ADD and have despaired of ever finishing anything, it might just drive you crazy. Yes, I still plan to publish Crossing Boundaries in August.