Writing a book is a solitary sport. Publishing a book is anything but solitary. You need a lot of people to help you. Even when you are lucky to have diligent people helping you, everything takes time, which means you will wait through various periods for them to do their work before you can get the thing published.
About 18 months ago, while I was waiting for some beta readers to go through A Housefly in Autumn, I decided that starting a new book would be more productive of my time than twiddling my thumbs.
I envisioned a book consisting of three novellas of a genre very different from A Housefly in Autumn. These stories would be contemporary and not suited to young adults. They are my nightmares, the ground where parenthood meets horror.
Though not horror in a gory sense, they are dark enough to put them into a genre in which I have not written since high school. Back then, I was completing creative writing assignments, not contemplating an eventual published book.
I finished the first two novellas in accordance with the vague plan in my head. The third came third because it was less well-developed in my mind, so I let it marinate while I finished drafts of the other two. When the third’s turn came, I had sat on it long enough to know that it would not develop further until I started to write it.
As I waited to get the cover art for Housefly, I began the third novella. Little by little, it picked its way through the forest of words until it found its trail of plot. It began to come together, the story itself inspiring new elements to fill in its missing pieces.
The ending still floated on the mist, but as I got closer, I began to see outlines of solid shapes in that mist. I was fitting it all together in my mind.
Then I got some really fantastic artwork for Housefly. It was time to start laying out the actual book that had always just been a manuscript. The new project got pushed to the back burner. When you have three little boys at home and a full-time day job, the back burner is off.
The third novella stopped cold. What time I could muster was applied to getting Housefly through the next steps.
I don’t outline. This works for me, except when it doesn’t.
Waiting for help on the last proofing of Housefly, I went back to that third novella. After six months, I didn’t recall which i was undotted and which t uncrossed.
I’d have to go back and read it. I didn’t like to because I prefer to get through the first draft before I read, and I was afraid of what I would find in my first mature attempt to write horror, even watered-down horror.
So far, I’ve read through about one-third of it. It’s not as bad as I feared. Now if I can only re-figure out how it ends, I might actually start to like it. Horror doesn’t scare me so much anymore.