And Now for Something Completely Different

While I’m editing away on Project Superhero, I find myself occasionally drifting off to something else. That something starts as a tiny voice in the back of my mind but, as my eyes start to cross from staring at that dodgy adjective in my manuscript, it gets louder until it is almost impossible to ignore. The most maddening part is that it only says the same thing over and over–“What are you going to write next?”

This is almost always the question with me. My first completed manuscript, probably never to see the light of day, was an epic fantasy of the sort that I grew up reading. It was better than I expected from my first successful attempt at writing a novel and perhaps someday if I’m too famous for it to matter, I’ll see about shining it up and trying for publication. The second one, Dead and Dying, is more of a horror story, but with a literary bent that makes it somewhat harder to classify. That, too, it seems is not destined for publication, particularly in these tough economic times. My new one is, as I’ve said recently, an urban fantasy work with, I hope, a moderate chance of finding representation and, eventually, publication. There will come a point, though, not too far from now, when I’ll have done all the tinkering I dare to do with it, will the query letter I want to write, and will have to shoot it out there. Then, I’ll be left with nothing to think about other than that question–What now?

I know what I want to write, but I have one problem that may keep me from plunging right into it. I know the story I want to tell, but it’s a huge departure from what I’ve already written. Rather than a commercial fiction novel, this little idea is almost completely literary with a bit of historical fiction thrown in. The question nagging me, causing me to hesitate, is whether I am good enough yet to write the story I want. I’m sure I can get the story down, but I don’t know if my writing ability has progressed to the point where I can convey the beauty of what I will see writing this novel. I don’t know if my grasp of language is ready for something this ambitious

I do have other options. There are several ideas for strong novels floating around in my head, but this one is the strongest right now. I felt this way about Superhero before I wrote Dead and Dying and I was glad I waited. Both novels turned out better than I thought they would. This time, however, I have a story itching to be written more than any I’ve had before and I’m doubting my ability to do it justice.

I guess since I still have a few weeks to think about it while I’m wrapping up preparations for Superhero, I’ll hold off any decisions until I’m done and see how I feel then. I have probably three stories strong enough to generate a novel right up top where I can access them easily in my brain, but the one I want to write is the one I feel least ready to write.

I’m sure there are a lot of people who would like to have this dilemma, but it’s bugging the shit out of me. If anyone reading this has any thoughts on the matter, I’d be more than happy to hear them.

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About Lee Smiley

I write things. Maybe you'll read them.
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