8 thoughts on “Pencils Down”

  1. There will be many who recog­nise your pos­i­tion, Ian. When I took early retire­ment I thought writ­ing would be a ‘breeze’, but words are stub­born and often stay put, even when I have con­sid­er­able time on my hands. I can only con­clude that suc­cess­ful nov­el­ists pay a very heavy price to see their work in print. As ever, I wish you well. Things may change.

  2. Hi Ian
    I’ve found time is the biggest killer for writ­ing; not just the lack of it but the length of time it takes for a writer to get out books in a series. That change over a dec­ade or so in terms of the writer you are now as well as the per­son (in my case it’s been 12 years since I star­ted to write the Secret War book 1), impacts greatly on how a series con­tin­ues. As a writer, your agenda changes. You may become less inter­ested in a single point of genre or genres, and just a slight shift in interest is like only a degree or two at the centre, but many degrees at the cir­cum­fer­ence. The dir­ec­tion changes and you have to make a choice to stay true to your­self as a writer or give your read­ers what you think they want, not what you hope they want. I’ve been in that situ­ation too and it cost me my pub­lish­er, but I still think I made the right decision. When you start writ­ing for someone else, and not your­self, you’re not being hon­est with any­one.

    Personally, I would keep on writ­ing. Your non-SF books such as Proper Job and A Moment in Berlin might not have as big a fol­low­ing, but they are still well-loved and great books/collections and serve as a good plat­form to keep writ­ing what you want …

    … And over whatever peri­od of time, regard­less of the dir­ec­tion it takes you …

  3. Thanks, Matt! Giving up writ­ing is get­ting to be a habit with me… I think that the dif­fer­ence between my book The Amber Rooms and the pre­vi­ous ones isn’t too much of a factor in my decision at this point, although it is a bit annoy­ing. I think I’m really just fed up with the whole enter­prise. If I can muster up enough both­er, I might try to fin­ish off the series in a style more con­sist­ent with the first book. But I’m not sure.

    Heavy sigh. We will see what the future brings…

  4. I found that get­ting over the brain bar­ri­er of the cor­rect “length” for a nov­el to be a good way to break the dis­tance between releases. Ebooks don’t have to be a set length.

    I’ve gone back to the days of Charles Dickens and star­ted writ­ing in epis­odes. Instead of 80k words I go for 10k-15k, and I can man­age at least one or two of those a month, some­times one in a week.
    If the story car­ries over to more epis­odes, then I leave it on a cliff-hangar and pick it up again in the next epis­ode.

    It also means you end up with way more “books” in your list.

  5. Both sad and annoyed that you have reached this point — I’m annoyed that how you feel will deprive your read­ers (hope­fully only tem­por­ar­ily) and sad that it may prove per­man­ent. Is it because you’ve had to handle all the pro­duc­tion stuff that (in the print world) is done by oth­ers? Don’t mis­un­der­stand me, I under­stand, I work for an aca­dem­ic pub­lish­er and hand­ling the tech­nic­al as well as cre­at­ive stuff is no trivi­al mat­ter. As you not doubt dis­covered, you have your cre­at­ive ichor say­ing “ooh try this, this’ll work” and your commercial/effort man­age­ment ichor even­tu­ally chimes in with “is it worth the hassle…” Me say­ing “things may change” seems a bit trite but I’m sure you will come to a decision which is yours (could that be more cheesy). Best wishes.

  6. Thanks for your com­ment, Ian. At the moment, the prob­lem is hold­ing down what are effect­ively two jobs, and it’s just not pos­sible. The solu­tion is a get­ting someone to take some of this load off my shoulders — i.e. a pub­lish­er! Maybe I’ll get back to it in a few months, but it’s not look­ing likely.

  7. Hi Glynn — Thanks for your com­ment, which I’ve only just saw. I like the idea of writ­ing in smal­ler pieces. As long as you know where the story is going to end up!


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