May already? Where has the year gone?
I was supposed to have another novel published by now. The second in the Wandering Knife epic fantasy series. Currently the title for this novel is Book Two. This might give you an idea as to how finished the novel is.
It’s not finished.
But don’t worry, I’m not far off. I’ve just finished the second draft. This draft is what would be termed a ‘working prototype’ in other fields. That is, if I stripped out all of the ‘notes to self’ that riddle the chapters, I could print it off and you could read it. It would be very rough of course. But it’s definitely a novel.
So why have I fallen behind schedule?
Well, as I mentioned in a previous post, I’m susceptible to a thing called the Planning Fallacy. Meaning that things always take longer to finish than you think they will. To be honest, I think I’m still going at a fair clip. 100,000ish words of fantasy fiction in about a year is pretty good, I reckon. But I still think that I could have gotten finished by now if I wasn’t susceptible to another dreaded enemy of the creative soul.
I admit that I’ve gotten off track a couple of times over the last year while working on this main creative project in my life. I’ve dabbled in writing some non-fiction, some fiction for kids, even some (shudder) literary fiction! None of this stuff ever gets finished because after a while it just doesn’t feel right. I write fantasy. But why don’t I have the laser focus required to get the job done, to get my next fantasy novel out there?
It’s because of the Good Idea Fairy.
The Good Idea Fairy is a mischievous sprite well-known in military circles for whispering in the ears of decision makers. Making suggestions about a better way to do things. But the ideas supplied by the Good Idea Fairy are usually disastrously bad. So much so that if memes are to be believed, the military organisations of the world have standing orders to kill the Good Idea Fairy on sight.
For me, the Good Idea Fairy never shuts up. It’s always chattering away about other things I could be writing, other creative ventures I could be following up that won’t take up much time and which are guaranteed to be successful. I know the ideas from the Good Idea Fairy are Not Good. In fact they are a Time-Wasting Distraction. But I can’t help myself. Each new Good Idea that gets suggested necessitates much researching, cogitating, note-taking, drafting, et cetera, et cetera. And almost always, the fairy’s spell breaks and the idea is revealed to be a waste of my time.
Let me give you another example. At one point during the last year the Good Idea Fairy suggested that I should learn how to be an artist. Wouldn’t it be great, said the Good Idea Fairy, if you could do your own artwork? Think of the money you’d save on cover art! How cool would that be?
So I flushed a week or so of my creative time (which is hard to come by, let’s not forget) on working out what it would take to become a pro-level artist capable of doing my own covers. I even bought a new notebook which I dedicated to my ‘art’.
I’m cringing as I write this.
Why? Because, as you can see in the image that accompanies this blog post, I’m a loooooong way off from being a pro artist. I think Malcolm Gladwell underestimated how much time it would take me to get my chops together. I reckon 20,000 hours would be about right.
So what’s with the crudely drawn artwork?
Well, once I snapped out of my Fairy-induced delirium, I realised that I do, and always will, need an artist. With the overall shape of Book Two bedded down, I knew what I wanted on the cover. I got back in touch with Olivia Rea who did the artwork for Red Harvest Moon and Bane of Wolves and fortunately for me she was available to work on another cover.
I gave her this sketch to provide a (very) rough idea of what my vision was. Olivia has almost finished the artwork for the cover, which I will reveal soon. Let me just say that it is incredible, and light years beyond anything I could ever produce.
And as you can see, there is going to be a filthy great big monster on the front cover of my next book.
So what’s next? Really, all I need to do is put my head down and run through another draft or two of the excitingly titled Book Two. I need to focus, and if I hear the buzzing wings of the idea fairy, I’m going to reach out and rip them off.