I'm a little spooked by all the notes and scenelets for The Mark of the Sea Serpent and beyond (The Alder-Wood Statue, The Vine Princess, Island Duel, and whatever the heck it's called that Kjartan does before it all begins, something with volcano or magma or Sutur in it). They feel good in my head. They feel like the best stuff I've done. But while they stand more or less alone, they're clearly sequels (and a prequel) to Dwarf's Blood Mead. Ummm.
It is not a good idea to write a sequel (or prequel!) to DBM right now. Not, not, not. DBM is currently sitting on the desk of one editor and one agent, and neither of them has said anything even remotely specific about it, and I already have written two books that can't be sold without selling the one before them. It was more or less an accident in both cases. (I had 40K of The Grey Road before I realized how close I was to done, and it's a YA, so that's a big chunk of the total length. And I thought Sampo was one book with Thermionic Night until I was maybe 60K into it, so.) I am not doing it a third time deliberately, not when I have a choice in the matter. I'm doing Zodiac House. It is a children's book, and thus an entirely different set of editors to bother. It can be dealt with independently. This is smarter. And it'll be fun, and it'll be a good book. I really do think so.
But...but...but. I can feel the sound of the Norwegian fiddle just beneath my skin. (It's the sound from the Riders of Rohan's theme in the LotR movies, for those of you unfamiliar with it otherwise.) Meep. I really think DBM is my best book to date. I really, really do. And The Mark of the Sea Serpent opens with Soldrun having to ski cross-country in the middle of the night, and...skiing. Middle of the night. Snow and dark and danger. Pet the book. Love the book. SIGH.
I'm actually spooked by sequels in general, because when I'm not feeling drawn in to The Mark of the Sea Serpent, I'm trying hard to ignore the 40K of Midnight Sun Rising sitting in the corner making faces at me. And I'm telling myself that it would not, in fact, be conducive to editing Thermionic Night and Sampo if I just drafted Winter Wars while doing it, to get more background and motivation for the major characters, because -- everybody repeat after me -- the last thing I need is another YA fantasy! I said no! I already have three! We won't be doing that today! And drafting a novel in order to better edit another novel: this is madness. This is not how one behaves. Any time the brain says "I could just draft X real quick-like," where X is a novel, the brain is not your friend, and you should regard the brain with deep suspicion.
Also, The Grey Road needs a good revision, and I'm fussed that that will draw me into The Tides Between the Worlds. Sequels! Ack! (I have been putting off revisions to The Grey Road for external reasons I prefer not to state in detail here. Someone told me there would be input, and I haven't got that input. But we'll see how long I can manage to hold it off in my head, and if I clean it up a bit before receiving input, so be it.)
Command Line has been leaving me alone. More or less. This is kind of it, but I can't help but wonder if it's because I'm not a science fiction writer any more. I wrote a science fiction story this year sometime, but...yeah. Fantasy, mostly.
Which brings me to why I'm worried about Neal Stephenson: he's written, what, 3500 pages in the same series all in a row? Maybe 4000 pages? One trains one's brain to be a writer in the first place, and then to write the kinds of things one writes, and I can't help but wondering if he's trained his brain into Shaftoe/Waterhouse oblivion. I hope not. I liked The Big U, and Zodiac had a, what's it called, thingy Stephenson books don't generally have...ending. Yes. One of those thingers. And I'd hate to think it's all currency tomes from here on out, though I'm looking forward to picking up another of those currency tomes in the not-too-distant future.
I'm not sure this story has a moral. But the brain, it is tricksy and false, and sequels are not the order of the day until I start getting actual contracts for the books they succeed, and as soon as I'm done sorting and typing notes from the last five months, I'm going to go stick my head in some SF and hope I still remember how to do it. And play something else on the CD player so that the Norwegian fiddle leaves me be for awhile. Maybe. We hope.