While the first two months of 2013 were not exactly empty of purpose for me — I worked on the video game and next-gen comic I’m part of the creative team for, did SFWA business, edited a book, debuted the episodes of The Human Division and managed a spontaneous fundraiser that generated roughly $70k in pledges — March starts the part of the year where I start seriously doing the year’s creative tasks, because a) two months off from that is enough for the year, b) if I want to have stuff out in 2014, now’s the time to get to it.
The challenge at this point is narrowing down what I should be doing next. Here are the things I could be doing next:
1. Story treatments for movies I plan to pitch later in the year (there are three of these);
2. A screenplay (a “practice” screenplay, much in the same way Agent to the Stars was my practice novel);
3. A new adult-audience novel (I have three non-OMW novel ideas running around and ready to drop);
4. A YA novel (two ideas here);
5. One of two novella ideas;
6. A new non-fiction book on writing;
7. A secret project, because I always have at least one of those rolling about.
Which one of these actually gets started is often contingent on which ones my brain say are ready to “drop,” that is, are formed enough that I’m ready to write them up and flesh them out more. Then again, several of these are ready to drop, so I have to decide which one is going to be the best use of my time at the moment. That’s an issue not just of interest but of career scheduling; i.e., what I want to have out there when, what things I can afford to have sink under the waves if they don’t go anywhere, and how much time/effort I can devote to things that are essentially research, i.e., things that won’t have any direct or immediate commercial value but represent an expansion of my skill set for future endeavors.
Which is to say that I look at this not only creatively but as someone who is essentially running a small business, because, in the end, that’s what I’m doing. I don’t have a day job, so I have to factor commercial imperatives alongside the creative ones. This is not generally a problem for me — I tend to be unromantic about the business-related facts of what I do — but it does require some thought, and one of those thoughts is reminding myself that leading with my business brain isn’t always the right way to run a creative endeavor. There was no foreseeable business argument to writing Fuzzy Nation, for example; I did it purely because it was fun for me. But it did pretty well for me after it was written. So finding that balance between business and creative factors is worth the effort.
At the moment, I’m still thinking about which longer projects to tackle, so in the short run I’m busy working on the story treatments (which are short and have a specific format, which makes them easier to do), and doing some research for the screenplay — today’s work consisted of a story treatment outline and scriptwriting research. I suspect I’ll know which longer thing I want to do in the next couple of weeks, when one of those ideas rolling about in the head finally jams itself into the “I need to be written now” slot.
And thus 2013 will have structure, I’ll write something new and then the whole thing will start over with the next thing. This is not a terrible life.