I feel crazy even saying this, but I really think I need to be working on three books at once. My current work in progress is in revision stages and after reading Rachel Gardner’s Make a Living as a Writer-Part 1, my hunch is confirmed. I do not see myself as a “one hit wonder,” but as an author with several works in progress, and one with a modest, yet consistent following. I know the books I want to write are not for everyone. Actually, I would rather speak to a smaller audience than a huge one (not that I wouldn’t mind having my blood, sweat, and tears make it to the New York Times best seller list.) I just see myself as inspiring more than stirring up controversy. And it seems to me that controversy is what appeals to the masses.
Although I am working on time management for sure, and random health problems are not helping matters, I do see myself capable of working on several book projects at the same time. I love variety, and will often get in a slump after working on a single project for a long period of time. Motivation wanes with monotony.
My fear? My current project is 20 years in the making. Will I be able to create in-depth characters and an interesting plot in a far smaller time scale? After all, I have 20 more years of life experience. Actually, I don’t think my problem will be to come up with a few decent plot or character ideas. My problem will be which project to work on first.
Out of the many story ideas in my files, I have one other book I started back in my teens. It has to do with a young teenage girl facing the truth about her father abandoning her family. Again, this one was inspired by true events in my own life, over and under dramatized to make more interesting characters and plot twists.
Yet, I am thinking I want to start completely fresh with the next project. I am pretty certain it will be a contemporary fiction book, since researching historical facts is hampering my creativity at the moment. As much as I love history, I feel like I would make more progress working from what I already know. Between 20 years of marriage, having 2 sick babies in and out of hospitals, and experiencing fibromyalgia, I think I have some pretty good life-experience material to work from.
I like James Scott Bell’s suggestions for discovering a plot by taking a real life situation and asking “what-if?”
Just off the top of my head:
What if… I was a single teen mom when my husband and I met?
What if… my dad had taken a job at HP in Idaho instead of California back in 1977?
What if… my sisters and I all made slightly different choices when it came to when we got married and when we started having babies?
What if… my grandmother had not died when my mom was 12?
Hmmm… What do you think would make the best premise for my next novel?