Friday, November 02, 2007

Writing novels: it's been a while

I spent February of this year on a page one rewrite of my 18th novel, Fiends of the Rising Sun, in which Japanese vampires attack Pearl Harbour in December 1941. But that wasn't starting a new novel, that was fixing a draft that had gone awry. [Here's a point to ponder: if wry is these days commonly used to indicate te drily humorous or sardonic, why does awry mean off course of amiss? Perhaps because wry originally meant twisted, contorted or askew.] Anyways, it's been a year since I started a new novel, and it's time to start another.

I've been commissioned by Black Library to write 100,000 words over the next five weeks. In truth, I was commissioned back in July but other projects have been demanding my time, such as finishing my screenwriting MA and shorter paying gigs. Writing a novel demands a large chunk of my creative energies, so I try to do it in isolation from other projects. Block off a period of time and give the new book everything I've got. So the next five weeks will be principally devoted to the novel.

No doubt there'll be other things ticking along in the background, such as prepping proposals for Channel 4's TV drama opportunity pilot and chasing the various agents in London reading my work. From now until December 10th I'll mostly be writing my novel. But I also need to be setting up work for after the novel's done. December and January can be a fallow period for freelancers, with little or no new work getting commissioned. If you want to pay your bills in February, you need to be working at some points before, during and immediately after the festive period.

If I don't have any paying gigs on the go then, I'll devote the time to developing and write a speculative script. Thanks to the MA course and the Scottish Book Trust's mentorship scheme, I've got several calling card script to showcase my writing abilities. But I need to keep extending and refreshing my portfolio. And there's the radio drama project for which I never seem to find time. That's an ideal candidate for the dog days of late December and early January.

All of this is by way of saying blog postings may be at a premium over the next five weeks, while I'm devoting my energies to novel #19. I'll still try to post something here most days, but need to be saving some juice for the book. For now, I've got one last committment to fulfil before I dive into the novel. Onwards!


Johnny Temuka said...

Good luck with the new novel, David. But after doing it 18 times before, you should be getting the hang of it now. Is it still fun?

At least it should take your mind off the rugby.

Paul Crilley said...

5 weeks? You're crazy. I'm just about to sign for a book and I'm worried that 4 months isn't going to be enough time.