So here’s the thing: I really want to start working on a new novel. I finished my most recent book months ago, and entertained myself for a while writing short stories, but I’m getting that novel-length itch; I want to immerse myself in a big all-consuming project.
But I don’t know what I should write next.
It’s not just a question of choosing which potential project appeals to me most (totally non-fantasy caper-novel romance? Lovecraftian epic fantasy? Contemporary nihilistic epic fantasy trilogy?). It’s a question of what I’ll need to write, and that’s a question I can’t answer yet.
At the moment, I have three projects on submission. I have proposals for two more Marla Mason novels; a young-adult science fantasy novel with a proposed sequel; and a contemporary fantasy with a possible sequel (well, a book set in the same universe, anyway).
I don’t know which of those will sell. I don’t know if any of them will sell. Best case, all three sell, in which case, I will be a busy dude (albeit a busy dude with greatly reduced credit card debt). But until one of them sells (or definitively fails to sell), I am in an agony of indecision. I don’t want to start any of those projects — Marla novels, sequels to books already written — unless I know I need to, because it seems dumb to put that much effort into a book that may never see the light of day. (Writing a spec book is one thing — I don’t mind writing a book that might or might not sell. But writing a sequel to a spec book, a book that cannot sell unless the first spec novel also sells, is a whole other level of folly. And there’s no point in writing more Marla books if they don’t have a publisher.)
I also hesitate to start another on-spec passion project, because loss of momentum can be death for me, and what if I get halfway through a new novel and then suddenly have to stop to write some other novel that’s actually under contract? I’ll have wasted months. But if (shudder) none of those projects sell, then I’ve wasted time I could have spent working on my next book, AKA my next spin on the great publishing wheel of fortune.
So in the meantime I’ll keep writing stories, and keep making notes, and keep hoping for some books to sell, and wait until one of these projects becomes absolutely too compelling to resist… and then I guess I’ll just write the thing, whichever thing it happens to be. Because if my concern is wasting time, it’s not exactly a good use of my time to sit here stewing and fretting, is it?