I started a project in historical fiction and it went very well, so well that I started thinking of other subjects even though I had not completed the first project (it’s a trilogy and I am working on the second novel). I am contemplative by nature so this is not a problem, my mind occupies itself with all kinds of imaginings, except that something has taken hold and refuses to let go.
In fact this little germ has proven so tenacious that I even started writing a couple of thousand words about it the other day. It was not much, just a few opening lines to see how things went…they went well! In fact it went so well that I opened up a project book and started developing characters, themes, plot lines, etc.
The next day I started to feel a bit guilty because I still have the first project to complete so, as if in a fit of penitence I drafted up two scenes to write into my historical fiction story. They worked really well too, so I felt much better.
Of course that was not the end of the matter, I soon found myself thinking about my new story and the ideas started coming thick and fast! I have read a couple of works on alternative history, William Gibson’s The Difference Engine’ for example (which he co-authored with Bruce Sterling of course) and I quite like the idea of bending reality a little to create something new; this is where the new story was heading. My imagination was quickly filling up with all kinds of possibilities for this new project, but was I losing touch with my Saxon epic?
Jumping from one time period to another can be quite tiring. I have a friend who cannot read two books at the same time if they are the same genre but different time periods, they claim that it gives them a kind of mental jet-lag! Strangely, they do not seem to be alone, I’ve read similar comments from people on the internet who state that if reading more than one book they like them to be as different as possible, so one might be a horror story and another might be historical fiction and the third might be a non-fiction book. It seems a common enough trait in reading.
I suppose that in a creative fashion this might also be a problem for a writer with two projects on the go at the same time, dashing from the 11th century to a period some 900 years later where everything is different in so many ways?
I definitely want to complete both stories! The first one must come to completion because I have spent so long on it already, what with the research into a period that I did not know all that well when I started, and because the first novel has been reasonably well received. The second one is just so different and touches on a subject matter that has always fascinated me the way some people are fascinated by fire.
The commonsense path would seem to be that I divide my time up between the two of them, similar to what I would do when reading several books. Of course I often found that I had barely enough time to write the first book, what with work and family commitments, so how do I manage two? Well, fortunately the second instalment already has some 72,000 words written so I can say that it is well on its way to completion, hopefully to be published next year, this gives me some room to manoeuvre with regards to the new story. Time management is the key!
In some ways this might actually prove a saving grace in that there will be clear lines of distinction between the two projects, a bit like an actor appearing in two different roles on the same day. With a little preparation I should hopefully be able to switch comfortably from Saxons fighting Vikings to a subject much darker and more disturbing without losing my grasp on who I am at the same time!