Tuesday, July 27, 2010

what else ya got?

if you are serious about writing, this is a question you will (hopefully) be asked over and over and over again.

in so many words, it was one of the first questions my agent asked me.
and it's a question you WANT to be asked... because if people don't like your writing, they won't be asking to see more.
you want agents, editors and especially readers to always being asking:
"what else ya got?"

in fact, if you're very lucky, you will get this question so fast and frequent you won't be able to keep up with the demand. (unless you are one of those freaky fast writers who churn out books in a matter of days. man, i hate admire you guys.)

it is possible you have just one great story to tell, one opus that will soar into literary history and make you a household name without ever writing another word. or perhaps you are in it for the money and are just talented and lucky enough to pull it off - that impossible 7-figure debut. if you achieve those goals and feel finished, then by all means retire and enjoy!

but if you're like me, you have way too many voices in your head to write just one. when i go on sub, if editors ask "what else ya got," and i have only empty hands to show them, i won't feel like i'm letting the editors down; i'll feel like i'm letting my characters down. each of them deserves a story. now, whether that story ends up in a trunk or on sub is a very different matter. i love Trapper, Andi, Boston and Tuna, but 'kids, get comfy. you're gonna be in that trunk for a looooong time.'

so now i'm hard at work telling the story of my two new favorite characters and hoping i do them justice... because there's a tiny bit of pressure in that question of what else you have cooking - this itty bitty, unspoken sub-question:
"and is it better?"

if you're learning and growing and pushing yourself as an author, the answer should probably always be, "yes, it's better." but when you're going from working on a revised, polished, finished manuscript to a new rough draft, it's kinda hard to see much that's better.

the point is to keep writing. work on one project at a time if you must (i certainly do), and work it until it's sparkling. you can even take a break afterward. but then push that diamond away (preferably in the direction of an agent or editor) and get back to digging through the dirt for the next rock you can polish into something precious. KEEP WRITING.


Anonymous said...

great post!

Matthew Rush said...

Hmm great point. For now I feel like the one story is all I've got - though I do have sequels in mind - but I'm pretty confident that once I actually get published inspiration with spring forth from my breast like a fountain of ... something or other.

For now I work on revision. I can't seem to come up with any other novels to write, but I write flash-fiction and short stories and stupid blog posts to hone my craft.

Meredith said...

This is so very true. I've got a few stories in the works, and I'm trying to develop them all in case I get that "What else ya got" question.

I love the names Boston and Tuna! That already sounds like an intriguing story :)

erinjade said...
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erinjade said...
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erinjade said...

Matthew, that is great advice for novel writers - to work on other projects in between books.

Meredith, i only wish the story was as fun as the names. haha! i have tinkered with the idea of breaking out the characters and giving them each their own stories, but i still love them as a team, so i'm keeping them together - which for now means keeping them all in the trunk. ;)

sorry for the deleted comments. i can't spell this morning. need more coffee.