Writers with what I call Engineer Mind have perfectly organized desks and files. I’ve met a few of those. I’m not one. I have what I call Writer Mind (in lieu of calling it Chaos Mind.) All my organizational skill goes into the writing…none is left over for anything else.
This becomes even more obvious when I’m faced with competing demands on organizational ability.
As I’ve pointed out before, books in the same pipeline overlap more than may be apparent. At the moment, for instance, four books are competing for my attention (actually it’s five, but we’re going to ignore the fifth briefly…) Last year’s hardcover release, Oath of Fealty, is coming out in paperback March first. That’s, um, real-soon-now. This year’s hardcover release, Kings of the North, is coming out March 22. Next year’s new book, Crisis of Vision, is heading into production mode. The book after that, not yet titled, is now being first-drafted and will also need to be finished, polished, and turned in no later than January 1, 2012.
Right now, I’m supposed to be doing some promotional writing for the March releases, and certainly in March will need to be visiting bookstores as the release date for King nears…and then signing stock after. I’m also working on the editorial revisions for Crisis of Vision…the pages Editor marked came in the mail today…and trying to do some first-drafting on Book IV.
Coming up, after Editor is happy with the changes to Crisis, comes its true production phase, all of which is a matter of hard deadlines. Copy edits to check and return. Map to be done. Page proofs to be checked and returned. Copy edits and page proofs must be dealt with instantly and quickly whenever they show up. Production work on next year’s book often (usually) overlaps the release promotional work (going to bookstores, going to conventions, etc.) of this year’s book and of course the first-drafting of the book after that.
And all these require different skillsets and attitudes. Even such minimal public appearances as signing shelf stock in a bookstore requires appearing as a pleasant, sane writer, not the wild-eyed, intense, socially unaware first-draft creator…for one thing, you can’t do it in pajamas and slipper socks. Blog writing (for the publisher’s blog) is very different from writing Story. And so on. The period of overlap requires changing gears multiple times, and the more books are somewhere in the pipeline, the more times and the more dramatic the gear changes. It’s very tempting, for that reason, to leave off the first-draft-writing until after the page proofs are done…but that way lies a frantic dash to finishing before the deadline for the next book.
On the other hand, it’s also exciting. (Not so exciting in a good way that I could ever be one of those writers who has multiple books coming out in one year…I do not know how they do it!) But I feel solidly embedded in the writing world when there’s a regular (if sometimes frantic) rhythm to the year. Last year’s book showing up in paperback, this year’s book moving along its track to release, next year’s book moving along the track to production, the book after that tripping along the flowery path of first draft.
The fifth book? Well, April is Autism Month, and every year Agent nudges me to think of something to do to perk up the interest in The Speed of Dark.
Other things…like a presentation to the Native Plant Society this month, singing in the St. John Passion on April 2, and being on an SF panel at the Texas Library Association’s annual meeting on April 15…have to be fitted into the corners of the writing schedule. And then there’s gardening, and taking care of the horses, and…who has time to be bored?
Book IV is now over 45,000 words. And today I wrote a blog post for Editor.