Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Indecision is getting me down. I think.

I've been feeling a bit flat over the last few days. In fact, it got so bad on Sunday night that I powered down the laptop at 9.35pm and told Mrs Q that I was off to bed. I've not seen a look on her face like that since I told her I'd mopped the bathroom floor, and that was three years ago.

I was struggling to put my finger on it, the reason for this flatness. I was tired, but that's not usually enough to cause my energy levels to shut down. At first, the only thing I could attribute it to was the fact that The Manx Giant was out in shops, and after the buzz of Saturday's book signing at the Lexicon, I was coming down from a literary-induced high.

The hole in this theory is that I have another signing this Saturday (Dec 12 - Waterstones, 1,00pm to 3.00pm if you're passing) and there's good coverage in local press and on the radio (you can have a listen to one of the pieces here - Wednesday shows, Shiaght Laa, 11 mins 45 secs in, lasts for nine minutes). So the buzz is still there.

It hung around me like a dirty big rain cloud for a few days, until it finally became clear to me on the drive into work this morning.

With the Giant done and dusted, I'm now free of writing commitments for the foreseeable future, other than the occasional freelance piece for magazines. After four years focused on first The Manx Connection and then the Giant, I can now turn my attention to the itch that will not go away - fiction. So, with a host of projects at various stages of development, you'd think I'd be ecstatic and raring to go.

If only it were that simple. The truth is, I don't know what to do, at least for now. If anything, I've got too many options and I can't see the wood for the trees. Do I jump right back in at Quackenbush, the young adult adventure, which is about 8,000 words away from completion of first draft, but the mother of all edits away from actual completion? Or do I tackle Mr Stone, the literary-fiction-turned-conspiracy-theory-thriller that I've been unable to dislodge from the back of my mind for many months? Or, do I return to the original itch - crime fiction, and a couple of starts I've made in that genre?

There are others, but those are the ones leading the torment of my poor mind. Quackenbush is the obvious answer. However, it needs such a major rewrite and edit and the thought of tackling it is, at this moment, rather terrifying. That said, the first draft is so bloody close to being finished, surely it makes sense to carry on?

Mr Stone is an intriguing idea and, in terms of pitching it to agents/publishers, could be the one to raise an eyebrow or two. Yet since I started taking writing seriously, crime has always been the genre in which I wanted to make the breakthrough. And that's not all.

If a writer is good enough, and lucky enough, to snag a deal with a publisher, the chances are they will have to continue to write in that genre; for example, if your debut novel is a dark crime story about a character with great series potential, you can be pretty sure your second - and third - book will be a dark crime story. Unless you are supremely talented with a strong followng already hanging on your every word, you won't suddenly be able to write a comedy sci-fi and expect to have it published.

So I find myself wondering what kind of books do I want to tie myself to, at least for the foreseeable. That probably all sounds very melodramatic; let's face it, the chances of selling the first manuscript is very slim, at best. And to do so before you have your second and third books (in any other genre) finished is so slim as to be barely visible.

So earlier tonight I told myself to wise up and stop being so damn precious about it. I do need to take a commercial viewpoint on all this, because at the end of the day an agent wants to read something he or she knows can be sold. But I can't beat myself up about it. I need to make a decision, and start writing. Sooner or later, I'll reach the end. And that's when the hard work really starts.

Now, about that decision...


MrsQ said...

Mr Quirk, I love you so very much and have complete faith and belief in your writing. If you would like my opinion I suggest completing quakenbush. Its a fantastic idea, and what you have written so far is gripping and wonderful. I suggest you spend the next few nights re-reading what you have written, which will remind you of how talented you are and bring you straight back to the feeling of excitement you had when you dragged a little boy and pregnant woman around druidale to visualise your chase seen!

You get your incomplete manuscript out and i'll pop the kettle on!

Love you x

John Quirk said...

Thank you, MrsQ. Decision made - as usual, you talk sense when I can't see any. Notepad purchased, about to start autopsy into QB.
Now about that cuppa...?