The original post on Arleen Williams’s blog was condensed to fit that readership. Below is an extended write up of K. Williams’s writing process and future plans.
The question of what are you working on now is a loaded one for authors. An author’s job is never done. I remember in English class listening to many discussions revolving around editing and how these great authors handled the process of bringing their works to publication. I remember reading quotes from them regarding their writing process. The thing I came away with from this is that an author is never done with their work. That’s a two-fold matter, for looking back from where I am now, I can say that I don’t know many writers who aren’t simmering several pots at once in addition to completing any of their concoctions. The process continues on and on.
Now, as I live the life I had long apprenticed, I find, I am also never done writing. I simply decide at one point that this is good enough to go to the editor and the editor edits the work and I make the recommend changes that I agree with, which are mostly all of the changes they mark in the manuscript. Then, I let the designer and publisher format it into a book and finally put it up for sale. If I don’t choose to do this, then it will never make it to print, because the editing process can go on ad infinitum.
Like an actor, I tend not to review my past work unless I am pushed by some great need (continuity in a sequel). I don’t want to wallow in the past, and I don’t want to get hung up in the process of editing the work another time. If you’re a writer, you know what I’m talking about. Authors are hard on themselves, harder than most critics. And, believe me, some critics, appear to delight in picking apart another person’s work, like ravenous vultures with a bit of succulent carrion. Authors neurotically preen their work to avoid that end.
As the critics wheel in the sky above the carcasses of my last offerings, I am already onto making more. To maintain my sanity in the face of this cycle, there are things that an author needs to do. Taking care of yourself is first. Improving you art is next. To do both, I promised myself a reading period, like the professors get between semesters. It’s a great idea. I give myself a period of time and a stack of books to fit in by the end date. The list and dates are both soft, so I can adapt my life around them. Even when I’m not penning books, I am writing my blog and sharing my tips with other writers, as well as the things I care about, like cooking, the environment and dogs. I am constantly working, so a reading period helps me to continue enjoying my art while expanding my knowledge and skills. It’s something an author really must do.
Come this fall, I will turn from reading for no particular reason to studying the East India Company (EIC). I’m not certain that I will go ahead with a work based on anything to do with this old company of British historic interest, but research needs to start somewhere. My point of interest is examining the economic struggles of people within the period of time during the EICs operation and most expressly on women who were at the mercy of the men in their families. As usual, the work will have a feminist quality, historic interest and speak about the social stratification of people to benefit the upper strata, and all the nasty things that happen to those caught in the mill.
Prior to this EIC work, I completed the sequel to OP-DEC: Operation Deceit (http://bluehonor.com/books_by_k_williams/op-dec_operation_deceit), which will be called OP-GHO: Operation Ghost. There are a couple of scenes I still have to smooth out and mature, but it’s mostly ready to go to an edit. Letting the work sit for a few months while I read and grow will help ensure that it’s the best it possibly can be.
OP-GHO returns us to the hands of the charming Carsten Reiniger and through the course of the story we learn a great deal more about the super spy. At his side, Claire returns and takes up her station as 1940s socialite. Where OP-DEC was concerned mostly with Claire’s experience, OP-GHO leans more on Carsten.
I have a bit of research to undergo on the East India topic, which will help me nail down the time period and the other matters of interest which must be researched as well, and I don’t expect to release OP-GHO until 2018. EIC will be even later than that. Why so long? The possible editor for OP-GHO has asked to go through development work on the manuscript, but won’t be available until January of 2016, and I expect our work to take several months, if not a year. When that development and writing is done, then she will do the final edits, which will take another few months. That’s about a year to a year and a half. Tack on design of the cover and marketing plans, and were at mid-2017. Figure the same deal for EIC, and I haven’t even begun writing it yet, and you see it coming around 2019.
It’s amazing how much effort goes into the forming of a book! But, don’t fear. There won’t be a lull between my works, because I planned this out with all of these delays in mind. The other two installments of the Trailokya Trilogy will be coming in 2016 and 2017. I wrote the trilogy as if it were one epic, long book. The point was to manage continuity and provide me with room to plan out my subsequent work. Why go through all that? Well, planning a couple well placed lulls early in your career builds the space you need to continue putting out quality work without losing touch with your readership, by not offering them new content, and give yourself time to live and craft.
The truth is, you don’t want to skip too many years between books, especially when building a readership. You risk being forgotten. Not to mention, on the opposite end of that, putting out more than one book per year is unfair to one’s work. I see so many indie authors writing book after book after book and putting them out by the quickest means possible. I have to wonder what the quality of these books is just by the sheer number they’ve written. One author boasts having written over 40 books. I’ve seen some boast having written more. Considering their ages and the time it takes to craft well, I don’t think it is possible that those books are good quality. But. That is my opinion. I recommend pacing your output for your personal and professional wellbeing.
I’ll continue to attempt one book per 1-2 years. That said, these things really take a life of their own. The best planning cannot cover all bases, and like my reading period, my expectation must carry soft dates. At least one of the steps along the publishing track can totally fall apart, should it be not locating the research you need, writer’s block, finding an editor to work with, or a publisher to put it forward. Whatever happens, believe that such a delay is probably for the best, because it gives you the room to improve your book and yourself, and you should embrace the time positively if not entirely productively.
Or, you can work on the next thing. While I’m planning my next book, following through on my reading period, I am also mulling over the continuation of the Trailokya series and how I will handle a switch to new worlds and topics. I am still what they call prolific, as my team reminds me often. I’m always working on the next thing.