This entry is going to be a bit of a ‘me thinking out loud’ one (moreso than usual) so consider yourself fairly warned. However there’s at least some chance this might be useful to other writery types, and so here we go.
With the situation surrounding Bonhomme Sept-Heures relatively static (waiting for additional feedback from Eager Volunteers), I’ve started work on a new project. Or, at least, I’m trying to. The problem is this. My plan was to start working on the idea I wrote about 20,000 words for last summer before setting it aside to do Bonhomme Sept-Heures. I think it’s a good concept, and I think it’s also a reasonably unconventional one, which may help in getting representation for it and a place to publish it.
However, my brain keeps throwing up ideas for this other concept that I’ve had rattling around my brain for about the past 4 years. I do like the concept, but it’s a fantasy story that doesn’t have quite as much of a unique hook to it as the other one does – it’s sort of my take on an Arthurian story. I think it could be a good story, if and when I do write it, but it’s arguably not as marketable and the concept is a bit more pedestrian.
And yet, that’s still the one that ideas keep churning up from the depths of wherever as I go for a run or do a workout at the gym or relax at the end of the day. So I have a bit of a dilemma: should I write the story that I’m having ideas for right now, but will probably be harder to do anything with, or risk losing whatever inspiration it is that’s driving those ideas and try to stay focused on the project that I’m not firing up ideas for quite so readily, but is probably going to be easier to find a home for.
It is of course slightly annoying and bemusing that my imagination works this way – although I can do things to make it more likely that good ideas will flow, I can’t really control when it happens, and sometimes, I can’t really even control what ideas show up. I get what I get, and then decide what to do with it. Some of it gets written up immediately, some of it gets put aside (although I have learned, after losing far too many ideas to my awful memory, to Write Shit Down), and some of it gets discarded. It’s very rare that the idea flow is really under my control, though; even when I was writing King in Darkness and pretty excited about it, I kept getting ideas for the book that eventually became Bonhomme Sept-Heures and books that would follow on after it, and had to take little timeouts to take care of those.
This is, obviously, the kind of the thing that artists have been complaining about since the beginning of time, so I know, and comfort myself to some degree, that there isn’t anything unique about my situation. It is fascinating to me the way the creative process works, apparently mostly uncoupled from conscious direction a lot of the time. Our brains are weird and wonderful things and although it can be frustrating from time to time, I kind of like that I don’t always completely understand what’s going on with mine.
Now, though, I gotta sit that thing down and have a discussion about which goddamn book we’re going to write next.
I’ll let you know how it goes.