Saturday, 11 October 2014

Experiments and Secret Projects

Random Author Avatar
Some of you might know (out of the seven people who drop in here) that I was made redundant from my old bookselling job just as I signed the deal with Gollancz for The Erebus Sequence. I managed to blag myself two months copy writing work to keep the wolf from the door before I received my signature advance. I took a long hard look at my bank account and said, ‘I’m going to give myself permission to be a full time writer. Just for  while.’ 

It was an experiment really, both in terms of keeping the momentum going and if could I survive between advances. It’s far too early in my career to think about royalties, before you ask. I’m still paying off the advances.

Alas, as the leaves turn and a chill wind gusts through London’s dirty streets the experiment has ended. I had about fifteen months. I wrote books two and three of The Erebus Sequence. Book two’s publishing date has been brought forward a month to 29th January 2015. Book three will still see the light of day in 2016 as far as I know.

I also managed to write two short stories set in Landfall, one of which has found a home, though I can’t tell you where yet. I’ve also been lucky enough to have stories accepted by NewCon Press, Fox Spirit and Snow Books. That probably sounds like some ferocious momentum but I have to confess to losing my way after the string of events that took place in London this summer. Doubts crept in: I wasn’t sure what I was writing next, I wasn’t sure if it would sell, do grown adults really stay in their pajamas until noon? Is it reasonable to eat pizza more than once a week? Serious questions, I’m sure you can agree.

Why am I telling you this? you may ask. Generally the posts on this blog about being a writer and the industry itself are by far the most popular. I could write a post about Destiny but Joe Abercrombie did it (and did it better), I may yet write about how good Ancillary Justice is but for now I am rambling about Being A Writer. I heard George RR Martin speak this summer with Robin Hobb and he notably said ‘Writing isn’t a career for anyone who enjoys security.’ (I may be paraphrasing him badly. You get the jist). 

The reason I’m writing this post is to illustrate, as if you needed telling, that creative careers are often a leap into the unknown. My three book leap has ended for the time being. Writing will once again take place in the interstices of real life: scribbled notes on buses, ideas for names in lunch breaks, quiet nights in writing new scenes and losing at online Scrabble against my mum. Important Writerly Stuff. Being forced to claw creative time out of a day packed with the mundane is a good incentive. It’s a way to cultivate discipline; don’t wait for the right mood, just write, because this is all the time you have.

If this sounds downbeat then fear not. New Secret Project is growing all the time. I’d forgotten how strange it is creating a new world from scratch,but it is coming. I’m looking forward to introducing you to a new cast of no-nonsense characters and lonely, windswept locales. I’m looking forward to telling stories of Empire and unreliable histories, of oppression and rebellion. 

I’m looking forward.