Whew! It's been a long time since my last post. Apologies for that. It's been a busy few months, especially April, which was crammed with activity including the Memorial, a C.O. visit, and an assembly! But with May finally here I've had a bit more time to get back to writing.
To be honest, I think the break was just what I needed. Critical Times, while a wonderful experience, was my biggest project to date; it required the most research, the most writing (it's 30% longer than The Unrighteous and about two thirds more novel than All Things New) , and the most editing. It was an emotional investment as well. So after all that, a break was in order.
The thing is, I don't consider myself a professional writer. I don't do this for a living (my day job is teaching, and when I'm not in the classroom I'm usually out in service). Perhaps if I were doing this full time I'd be more on the ball with my writing, be it progressing on my latest novel or updating my blog, but I'm happy to not have that pressure. I'm a strong believer of keeping hobbies in their place. I've found that once they start taking center stage they stop being fun and start just feeling like work.
That said, I'm happy to say that the new novel (I'm not ready to reveal the title yet, sorry!) is well under way. I've been working on it on and off now since December, and it's starting to gain momentum and taking form into something that could be exciting.
At any given moment I usually have a few different writing projects going. I frequently write the first chapter (or scene) that pops into my head, then leave it alone on my MacJournal to either a) marinate into something worth revisiting b) stagnate into something fit only for the trash bin.
I find that having a steady flow of new ideas (I like to think of it as an "idea farm") is helpful in the creative process for a few reasons. For one, it keeps writing from becoming too tedious. When I start feeling burnt out on one idea (this happened frequently for the last novel, almost to the point where I scrapped the entire project altogether), I can switch gears and tinker away on a new story, or revisit one of the fragments I've written previously. It's a much needed breath of fresh air.
Secondly, it gives me something to look forward to when I'm nearing the end of a project. As I've mentioned before on this blog, penning the last words of a novel is always a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, I'm happy to see the journey come to a successful conclusion, but on the other, I feel like I'm saying goodbye to old friends–the characters I've spent so many months with have begun to feel very real, and as strange as it may seem, I feel attached to them at some level.
Another thing is that this "idea farm" technique gives me something to research on my spare time, and if you haven't figured this out, I really like doing research. Often because research sparks new ideas and new lines of inquiry. And all stories start with a simple question: What if...? For me, research usually starts in a scriptural vein, reading old publications and Biblical accounts to determine the best precedent for a certain circumstance I'd like to write about, and then it bleeds into other kinds of research: checking dates and maps, reading science journals and news clips, watching documentaries, and in the case of Critical Times, poring over copious amounts of online materials on police procedures.
Anyhow, as of January of this year, I had four potential ideas worth pursuing and was having difficulty picking one, but I'm now comfortably settled into one and happy with my selection, so we'll see. At my current point of 30,000 words I've still got a long way to go, but hopefully I'll have something to start sharing by the end of summer.
No promises, though! ;)