The Writing Flight Deck

One of the contributors to a recent rather long comment thread asked me if the Whatever, and keeping track of the subsequent comment threads, is taking away from my book writing. Well, no. Playing Unreal Tournament 2004 instead of writing is taking away from my book writing. The Whatever doesn’t take time away because any time it threatens to, I just stop writing it. It’s that whole “if you miss a deadline you don’t get paid” thing.

Others have asked me how the paid writing is going. Short answer: Good, but hectic. The Book of the Dumb 2 has come to crunch time, as I’ve noted before; I need to have the full manuscript in on 8/2, not just for their deadline but also for my own, as that’s the date I start working on The Rough Guide to Science Fiction Film. The writing process on BotD 2 has up to this point been pretty free-form — I’ve basically written about whatever amusing examples of stupidity I’m found particularly fun, but now things get a little more precise: My editor on BotD 2 has taken all the material I’ve written so far, chopped it up into chapters and let me know where I need to fill in gaps. For example, I’ve already done quite enough pieces on people doing stupid things under the influence of drugs, but I need to do at least five more bits on people in the sports world doing stupid things.

All told, between now and 8/2 I need to write roughly 70 additional pieces and/or 30,000 additional words. It sounds like a lot because it is. The good news here is that the format of the book makes writing this stuff very easy; it’s not like, say, having to write 30,000 words in a novel off the top of your head in two weeks. I’ll be busy (which is why you may not see much of me around here in the next couple of weeks), but it’s doable.

After BotD 2 is turned in on 8/2 I turn immediately to the RGtSFF, which is on a fairly tight schedule: I need to have a chapter in to the editors within a couple of weeks and the whole manuscript needs to be in by the end of November. The good news here, of course, is that most of the “research” has already been done because I’m a big fat science fiction geek, and also a film/DVD critic. Be that as it may, I got myself a Netflix subscription (it’s tax deductible!), and expect to be doing a whole lot of “research” in front of my TV in the next few months. Whee!

As I’m writing RGtSSF, I will also be “gestating” the sequel to Old Man’s War, which as I think I’ve noted is tentatively titled The Ghost Brigades. By “gestate” I mean “thinking about it” — basically where other writers outline I do a whole lot of pondering while standing motionless in the shower (oh, stop it, you juveniles). Ideally, I’d like to start writing Ghost Brigades at the beginning of the new year, although it’s possible (depending on the state of my gestating and other factors which I can hint at — hint, hint — but say nothing about) I might start it a little bit later. Regardless, it’s on my slate for early 2005.

What else is on the writing slate? Well, it’s likely I may contribute to some more Uncle John books, and then I have my writing gigs with Official PlayStation Magazine and the Dayton Daily News. My AOL contract is up for renewal soon, although nothing’s been solidified there, so we’ll have to see what happens one way or another (it’s always been meant as a short-term gig, so if they renew I count myself lucky — I have fun with it). I owe each of my agents book proposals for projects that we can hopefully slot in for the second half of 2005; for my non-fiction agent I figure I will finally give him that proposal for a book on writing (which I’ve been threatening to do for a couple of years now), and on the fiction front we’ll have a slate of SF ideas but also a couple of non-SF ideas as well. We’ll see if anyone nibbles.

So, in short, that’s the stuff I know I’ll be up to for, oh, the next year. Note that this doesn’t count all the stuff I don’t have set in the schedule but would like to do — more magazine and newspaper articles, for example, and also maybe a few science fiction short stories and things like that. And, of course, it doesn’t mention the Whatever at all. Don’t worry. I’ll be here. Provided I don’t waste all my time on Unreal Tournament 2004.

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