Now that it’s August, I must take off the novelist’s hat for a while, and don the language teacher’s bonnet: My new job requires a dedicated full-time stint of about six weeks, which, combined with a lengthy commute, will leave little time for fictionalizing. But it comes at a propitious time, since it gives me a chance to take my latest effort (still not revealing the name, or cover, yet) and put it aside for a while, to let it ripen and ferment within the mysterious inner workings of my little laptop (or maybe on the Cloud). Now, I could publish it today: That’s how done it is. But I won’t. For the next four weeks, at the very least, I’m going to try to not look at it, or even think about it, in the hope that when I finally look at it again in September, the scales will be lifted from my eyes and I’ll realize it’s either a complete piece of crap or the best thing I’ve ever written. Or, more realistically, something in between.
This is something I do with almost all my novels: Forget the conventional wisdom about rushing them out as quickly as possible; that only leads to remorse and sorrow, in the long run. There are always fewer regrets when you give yourself space to find the errors and weak spots in your book before it’s published. I like to give them a slack period, pull them out of my brain for a bit, before jumping back in and concentrating on them anew. (Am I mixing metaphors again? Sorry about that) I wish more of my fellow independents did that. But the gurus on the self-pub forums tell you to write and write and write and publish as fast as you can. And that is why we are bring crushed under so many loads of really bad fiction, at least those of us with Amazon accounts.
Perhaps most of us have one really good book inside ourselves, so what makes folks think they have ten or twenty? I think it’s the rare author who’s truly prolific and good, and I think that applies to genre fiction as well as literary. So give it a rest—Make yourself forget about it. Get a job, if you have to, or find some other distraction. Sometimes I start another book, but this can be dangerous because you get so caught up you forget about the one in storage. Sometimes it’s just best to (gasp) stop writing completely for a little bit.
So I will be spending my writing sabbatical driving halfway to New York City every day, and cheerfully harassing adult foreigners into speaking proper English. Hoping to sneak in a weekend at the Jersey shore somewhere in there, and then come September…Well, be prepared for my Next Big Thing.