Inspiration has made itself more apparent in my writing than ever before.
When I finished GREY DOGS & THE WILLOW, I wondered what was next on the table for me to tackle. I'd written the first of a hopeful series / trilogy (at this point) and felt on top of the world. It was the culmination of a grand slew of work and toil to get the novel done, a feat which many never achieve. It felt great and I felt triumphant, but I was itching to get to town on another work.
I toyed with two ideas - one, to develop a standalone work, or two; to get down to business and start the sequel to GREY DOGS immediately.
All in all, I think I made the smart decision.
I decided that GREY DOGS & THE WILLOW, being my best (and first) work to date, it needed some time to cool before tackling the huge task of writing a followup that would meet or exceed the first. The world-building was already done, the characters very much alive and kicking, and the storyline directed. I felt that to start too hastily into the second would be a bad choice, that I would ruin what I'd created with a half-assed scramble of words that would never live up to my own expecations.
I decided instead, after a quick, feverish outlining session, that I would begin work on a standalone. A work that would reside in it's own world with it's own characters - CRIMSON LETTERS FROM KANDAHAR PROVINCE. I wrote it quick, and I wrote it hard. Four or five weeks from beginning to end.
And it was difficult.
I found myself past the halfway mark struggling more with characters I didn't really like the way I did Carey Cardinal and Roman Tindall. I found myself overwhelmed by what seemed to be an unreachable word-count goal, an impossible summit. The work became just that - work. I struggled to finish it, but end it I did. I came up short, requiring padding and extrapolation of ideas to hit the 60k word mark - the publishing minimum requirement to truly be considered a 'novel,' and a short one at that.
Looking back, I like CRIMSON LETTERS, but I like GREY DOGS more. After finishing CRIMSON LETTERS FROM KANDAHAR PROVINCE and giving it a quick polish, I sent it out to agents on the query-go-round and so far haven't found much in the way of a promising response. My publisher, Severed Press called it an 'interesting idea,' and added the possibility of releasing it later, and I thank Gary for his kind words.
However, now that CRIMSON LETTERS is trunked in purgatory until a later date, I began almost at once the composting phases for the sequel to GREY DOGS. I find that without a project on the go, I feel lost. I sit infront of my computer and check forums on AbsoluteWrite and wait for rejections in my Gmail inbox, but do little else in the writing world besides push my existing publication.
Not being able to wait any longer, I began work on the sequel, and it came effortlessly. I threw around some ideas, but it really came as a strangely easy task. I can honestly say that CRIMSON LETTERS was good for what it was, but it really served another purpose. It allowed me to develop as a writer. It allowed me to play with ideas and concepts outside the world of the original work. Most importantly, it let my subconscious work on the events of GREY DOGS II (obviously not the working title, but I'm not giving that much away just yet!)
The now-completed, very detailed outline for GDII is a marvel if I do say so myself. It's undoubtedly the best framework I've written to date, and I'm quivering with the anticipation of writing it.
The only questions that remain now are these - do I wrap most things in GDII and leave only a few trails for GDIII? Do I aim for long word counts and consider a fourth novel?
Either way, get ready.