Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Look, sparkly!

jmeadows gets snoopy with a bunch of questions about novels:

1. If you're a novelist, how many books have you finished at least first drafts of?
Umm. Referencing question #2 for clarification, that'd be nine.

Four of them are children's/YAs, so that's less word count than one might think. (But not counting picture books. I've finished the texts to three picture books.)

2. How many of these are books you want to pretend don't exist (so your teenage angsttastic stories DO count, people!)?
Two. The first two I wrote, when I was 11 and 14. Evidence of these manuscripts have been destroyed, so it's only my goodwill that lets you know they exist at all.

3. How many do you especially like?
What day is today? The answer varies. Sometimes it's all seven, sometimes five. My SF novels get no love some days. Other people's SF novels get no love on those same days, though. I am deeply ambivalent about the current state of science fiction (as opposed to fantasy or a more general speculative fiction), and that ambivalence extends to my own work.

4. How many do you have starts of (like, frex, you started, then got a better idea, so went somewhere else)?
I do not have time to find out the answer to that question. Seriously. I have a file labeled "starters," and it's way too long, and I can't really sort out what might become a novel with a slight bit of poking. Also, this is sort of a quantum mechanics problem: if I poke the starter file too hard, some things that were not previously novels will become novels, and nobody wants that. At least I don't.

For complete ideas -- characters stable, plot roughly outlined, could theoretically start work on them tomorrow if it seemed important -- *cough* 57. Unless you don't count the ones that are still intended to be collaborative with timprov if we ever get to it. Then 54.

Again, many of those are children's/YA.

Did you think I was kidding when I said I had too many ideas?

I am not on the verge of working on most of those. I just have notes scribbled down and filed and have moved on. I am not looking very closely at those notes, because the brain is already grabbing at too many -- ooh, shiny! What was I saying?

Shit. Fifty-eight. I knew I shouldn't think about this. La la la, Kjartan's silver arm is shiny and I will grab onto it and not worry about other things. Right? Of course right. Silver arm. Decapitated pantheon. That is what we are thinking about, and not other things.

I don't have to focus on just one thing right now, but less than a dozen seems healthy.

5. How many novel first drafts are you working on currently?
I don't know the honest answer to this. How many novel first drafts have I added words to in the last week? Four Six. (I am in that brainspace where I forget.) How many am I working on seriously the way I seriously work on a book when I'm serious, seriously? Zero.

Or possibly one. With the silver arm and the decapitated pantheon on the iceberg.

6. How many are polished? Like you don't think you can look at them again or you'll explode finished?
Heh. I am so ready to look at them again. All it would take would be the slightest encouragement from an agent or editor, and I would dive into them up to my ears.

Sampo is the only one in active revisions right now, though. The others are polished enough to submit, so far as I know at this time.

7. How many ideas do you have swimming in your head for future novels (the other books in a trilogy count)?
I don't let them swim without an anchor. Oof, if that's not a mixed metaphor, I don't know what is. But I jot down dialog, action, even occasionally description when I get an idea. I don't get an idea and let it float without the jotting. So it's roughly the same answer as #4.

8. How many of those ideas do you think are good enough to make it to paper?
I'm not sure it's a matter of good enough, from my perspective. It's a matter of contingencies.

Say someone sends me a contract for a YA fantasy series tomorrow. The books in that series would get finished before my political murder mysteries or my historical thinger or even Midnight Sun Rising. Because they're better? Meh. Because they'd be the logical next thing to do under that specific circumstance.

On the other hand, if one type of book isn't selling, trying another type as long as one has the idea for it seems sensible enough. I write fantasy and SF and possibly mystery and possibly non-speculative historical and possibly mainstream-YA. I write for children, YA, and adults. I don't have ideas in the intersection of all those categories -- I would rather be beaten with a stick than write a straight-up non-speculative children's historical novel right now, and I'm carefully steering the brain away from areas that might falsify that statement, because I now feel sure that they exist. But the point is, I have lots of things that qualify as "things I do," and when I do which of them is still very much up for grabs.

On the gripping hand, sometimes writing something that looks like a hell of a lot of fun is a good idea, regardless of how many other things are selling and who likes them. And sometimes you find yourself darting back after a day's sensible work to write something about walruses, and that's okay, too. And what looks like fun one year can look like a slog the next, and vice versa, so it's hard to say.

I have discounted ideas that I no longer think are good enough to be worth my time under any circumstances. I have, oh, plenty upon plenty of those, in my old journals. I have a folder called "Never Will Sell" that has bits of things that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, never will sell.

I doubt that I will write all or even most of these books, because I do go back to some of them, but I also keep coming up with new ideas, and some of the new ideas are better than the old ideas, or at least shinier. I used to find it extremely comforting to have all these notes and bits and pieces, because then I never had to worry about running out of books, because if I did, I would still have a backlog of books to write.

Now I don't worry about that as a failure condition at all. Now it looks like a very silly worry to have, because one trains one's brain to do stories, and my brain is pretty darn good at excess. Every once in awhile I discard stuff away into...the pre-trunk, I guess. When I can see where the sparkly bits have dulled now that the idea is dry. And that's okay, too. It's good to move on, sometimes.
Tags: dead vikings are lots of fun, full of theories

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