Friday, June 17, 2011

Starting over

Recently, I have reached what I feel like is the end of the line, as far as my book being a viable product is concerned. It’s a whole thing. Anyway, I’ve come to my decision and as such, I have stuck the proverbial fork in it. But this leaves me with a question: What next? The obvious answer is, of course: Start a new book. But what about? And more importantly: How?

I’ve never done this before.

From inception to trunking, I worked on my last book—my first book—for six years or so, give or take 6, 7 months. Sure, sure, it’s not as long as some, but I’m not arbitrarily abandoning my book. I’m not setting this book aside because of a few stagnant years and a few more rejections… well, not entirely. I’m setting it aside because I’ve looked at the market, the saturation, the interest, the responses I’ve received and not received, yadda, yadda, yadda. I’ve taken all that and I’ve sat about and thought and thought and thought and basically, I think it’s just time. I think, for the moment, the project has run its course. Will I keep querying? Yes. I still have some names I haven’t tried and there are a handful of queries out there still current and there is also an agency that has the first three chapters, but I haven’t heard a peep from them since February, so I’ll just go ahead and hazard a guess as to their interest level… pppphhhbbbttt, but yeah. I will finish her up. I will let the clock run out, as the kids say.


Because it’s done.

It’s sad, like I said over at my blog: With this book goes three more stillborn, but I’ve still got things to do. I’ve got some short stories I need to work on still. 2 or 3 still need that second and third draft attention. A similar number might still exist in the ether of pre-creation floating about within my laptop, so that’s good, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about...

I’m here to talk about: Where do I go after that? What’s next?

I want another novel project, but how do you start?

This is my question. You see, I want to start it off right, get me? It has been a long time since I was last in this position and a combination of accidentally stumbling into the last novel project in the first place and barely remembering the beginning parts of the process at this point means I have no clue as to how to get started again. I hazily recall working on a first chapter that somehow became two and then it was three and… after that, I don’t know. I’ve got an idea for a book. Two, really. And I’ve got the Scribblerati. I didn’t have them last time, so that should help, right? Of course, that help will probably kick in more AFTER I actually get started again, I would think, since none of them are on their second book either, so… so, I googled it. (Actually I Binged it, since the crap temp job blocks Google for some reason…)

344,000,000 responses.

I searched: How do you start writing a new novel and I got 344,000,000 responses.

And every single one of them (that I bothered to look at) concerned starting your FIRST novel… Great, thanks Bing, you stupid bastard… hmm… well, maybe it’s still applicable. What else am I gonna do with my time? Work? Shyeah, right… Okay, so the first link is blocked by the crappy Temp job internet filter… so is the second. And the third. And the fourth (fuckers…). And the fifth… Christ...

Ah! Finally! Ehow is apparently okey-dokey A-ok with the Internet overlords here at the salt mines, so let’s see what they say.


The hardest part of writing a book is starting.

O RLY???

You want to write a book.

I do.

You have ideas and characters bouncing around in your head but can not find the time to put them onto paper.

Well, that’s not really the issue, but…

Your book will not be written until you start.

Uh, yeah. I suppose that’s true. It will also not be done until I finish.

The hardest part of writing a book is time.

I thought it was starting.

Give yourself consistent time to start and write your book and you will be able give those characters life.

Able give?

Here are some tips and suggestions to start writing your book

Can’t wait…

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Is that kind of like ordering “Minnesota spicy” in a Thai restaurant?

Things You'll Need
• Time set aside to focus on writing.
• A desire to write a book.

What about an idea? A beginning and an ending? …Paper? …You know what? Forget I said anything, that’s my baggage. Please continue…

Start Writing or Does Writing a Book Seem Overwhelming

Is that a question?

This is the book you have always wanted to write.

Uh… I guess…

You may have slips of paper with notes scattered throughout your home and office.

I haven’t had time to clean lately, alright? And I don’t appreciate you judging me.

What is holding you back?

I don’t know. Work, life. I mean, where does the time go, right? Really, I think this is less a reflection upon my own inability to pick up after myself and more of an indictment of the ingrained expectations of American work culture. Did you know Europeans get nap time every day? I’ve heard that’s true.

Is it that writing a book seems like an overwhelming project, or you do not know where to begin, or your plate is so full you do not have the time?

Those all seem like the same thing... The middle one, I guess.

Compare writing your book with the prospective you received at the beginning of your first college course.

My first college course? Uh… Okay, but I fail to see how Introduction to Anthropology has any bearing whatsoever on my idea of writing a noir book about a super villain heist...

How were you going to get all those assignment done?

What assignments? What’s going on? What are we talking about? Are we still talking about novels? This better not be a trick where I’m suddenly a Scientologist at the end of this thing…

As you worked your way through the semester, finishing one project or paper at a time, it created a sense of relief when the end came and all assignments were complete.

Are you…? What…? Is that a question? You’re totally about to bring up Jesus, aren’t you?

During your coffee take some time to jot ideas down.

Coffee? What? I was told all I needed was time set aside to write and a desire to write a book. No one said anything about coffee!

Writing a book -Break it Down Into Steps.

What? Are we back to writing again?

All big projects seem overwhelming when you view them in their totality.

You know, that is so true.

If you think about the end before you start the immensity of the project will hold you back.

Uh… Well, I think it’s good to know where your story is going, at least in the abstract. You might want to reconsider that stance.

The first thing you need to do to when you want to write a book is to sit down and start.

Ah yes… the hardest part…

You do not have to write the entire book in one sitting.

Yeah, no shit. You know, sentences like that really make me begin to doubt the validity of your advice…

Take the time you need at intervals you can spare. Use a tape recorder so your thoughts, especially when driving, can be documented. Take all the 'small amount of times' such as waiting for your child's lesson to finish or use you lunch break as 'think' or 'write' time. You could get up an hour earlier and/or go to bed an hour later. You do have the time needed. You just need to set aside time to write, just like you do for other activities

So, what you are saying here… in a nutshell, is that I should treat writing like any other activity and make time to do it when I have the time available to me? That is some Zen shit right there, man. My mind = fuckin’ blown.

Use this process to start writing a book:


Make writing your book part of your schedule

Uh, yeah, I think that’s been sufficiently covered.

Take out your calendar, now, and mark "I Want To Write a Book", "I Want To Write A Novel" or whatever your ultimate goal is on a date and in a time slot, just like any other important meeting or activity.

I want to eat ALL the ice cream!

Ask For Family support to give you time to write.

“Family”? You mean, like the mafia?

Make sure that everyone in your household knows this is your time to write a book, they do not bother you, and you put all thoughts or excuses out of your mind. Let your family know that everything they need your attention for will get done, also, but this needs to be your time uninterrupted.

Right, yeah, that’ll work. I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself…

Adhere to your book writing schedule.


When this date and time have arrived sit down, pull out your slips of paper, notes, a tape recordings and start writing.

A tape recordings? You keep adding shit! I didn’t know I was supposed to make a tape recordings! Who even has a God damn tape recorder anymore?!?!

Your starting time is the most important part to get past any overwhelming feelings or excuses you have had. Start writing your book and nothing will get in your way.

Possible exceptions: Meteor strikes. Free doughnuts. Lactose Intolerance.

Start Writing A Book Just like any other habit the first time of setting time aside for writing a book will lead to the second time and it gets easier each time you sit down to write your book. Once the habit is formed take your book writing one day at a time. When you work on it a little at a time you will eventually have written the book that has been inside you wanting to get published.

I wonder if it’s possible to say the word “time” more often in the space of three sentences… So, basically: If you want to write, then take the time to write and you will be writing. It’s just that simple? Well, then... That was very helpful, wasn’t it?

Thank you, Internet.

You’re welcome,


Qlaudie said...

Jon, you made me LWAFTJ (laugh with a full throated jocularity -I'm trying to start a new meme) many times.
EHow. Really? Really?

Shawn Enderlin said...

Nice advice you found there...

I don't know that I'll ever "start over." Assuming people don't hate To Kill the Goddess, I'll probably just keep going. There's 3-4 books in the initial series and then material for novels both before and after those events. So I could stomp around here in this universe for a LONG time.

PS best of luck! Now if you can just set aside some time you'll be set! ;-)