Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Creative Break

September 5, 2007
I recently completed my fourth Derek Stillwater novel for Midnight Ink. The first two, for those of you keeping track, are THE DEVIL’S PITCHFORK and THE SERPENT’S KISS. I’m done with my contracts, the fourth book isn’t likely to be published until the end of 2008 or later, so I’m taking the time before receiving editor notes and whatever else may come my way to play with some other novel ideas.

I posted a little taste on my blog yesterday of two of the novels I’m playing with right now. Yes, two at a time. Actually there’s a third I’m playing with, too, but less seriously than those two. Those two will get written, most likely. The third, welllll…. We’ll see. One is very much along the lines of the Derek Stillwater novels—lots of action, faster pace, etc.—and the other is a political thriller written from a first-person point of view.

I have no idea if they will be published. I have no plans at all, really (okay, almost really) for marketing them to my current publisher or anyone else. I don’t even know (well, I sort of do) whether I’ll show them to my agent. I sort of know these things, but I’m shoving them to the back of my brain and kicking a bunch of clutter (quite a bit of it back there in my brain) over them so I won’t pay much attention to them.

[A footnote. I write for a living. I’m always on deadline with something. I work all the time. Edit journals, contribute to newsletters, write business reports or magazine articles. So I’m ALWAYS WORKING!]

I’ve got some ideas for more Derek Stillwater novels. Several really good ones, but I’m not working to develop them. Derek’s on vacation momentarily. I need that particular well to fill back up again.

I think this is good. I think creativity just for creativity’s sake is good. I think creativity without any particular consideration for market, readership, or money is good.

Having said that, let me repeat myself. I WRITE FOR A LIVING. That is to say, I’m busy churning my words into dollars. I turn those dollars into things like food and clothing and mortgage payments and vacations and, yeah, retirement accounts. (Not to mention all the money I donate to my government, Hasta la vista, baby!)

I think writing on deadline, writing on contract, paying attention to your market, thinking about your readership and knowing you’re going to get paid for what you write is good. Very good… Really, really, very damn good.


Sometimes you’ve just got to kick your brain into a different lane, one that isn’t overly concerned about “is this sucker gonna please my agent/editor/readership.” Sometimes you’ve just gotta tell yourself, “This one’s for me, dammit. If it sells, great, but I’ve got to write this one just… because … I … WANT … TO.”

I also think, when you’re writing your novel or whatever on contract, that there’s money on the table, etc., that you need to really work hard to get your creative brain into the same lane that’s just writing for fun. Because if you have fun, your readers should, too.

Mark Terry


spyscribbler said...

You know me, compartmental. Business mind decides which way to go, then writing mind goes to Borders and writes.

I do, however, write really bad poetry when I need to take a creative break. I think I must have written a hundred haikus this summer, LOL.

Oopsy ... I probably shouldn't have admitted that, huh?

Joe Moore said...

“This one’s for me, dammit. If it sells, great, but I’ve got to write this one just… because … I … WANT … TO.”

You're right, Mark. If we don't write for ourselves first, there's no one behind us waiting in line. I believe we should write the book we're dying to read.

Mark Terry said...

I'm pretty much a believer that the writer needs to entertain themselves first, too. I think you should think about your readers, but I write books I would enjoy reading. (Of course, I like a lot of different types of books, so maybe the right thing to say is: I write the type of books I MOST enjoy reading.)

Mark Combes said...

And taking the TIME to write that book is important too. Deadlines suck. I heard Jeffery Deaver say, "You should make the editor pry the manuscript out of your hands." Stories need to ferment, and fermentation needs time...