I’ve just returned from Nebula Conference and this moment was a highlight: the photograph of SFWA past-presidents in attendance. From left is Gay Haldeman, SFWA Ombudsman; Joe Haldeman, SFWA Grandmaster and past-president; Michael Capobianco, past-president; Karen Silverberg, novelist; Robert Silverberg, SFWA Grandmaster and past-president; and lil’ ol’ me. Quite a heady experience!
This week at the SFF Seven, we’re talking about the Picking and Choosing—how do you decide which idea to write?
This is the eternal question, with many factors affecting the answer.
Some factors are practical, especially if you make your living as a writer, as I do. To keep that income flowing, I have to think about the next book in the series – both for the sales and to keep my readers happy – and I have to look at what’s selling best for me. Likewise, in working with my agent – the fabulous Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency – I coordinate with her on what she thinks she can sell for me, along with her schedule, balancing me with her other clients on reading, editing, etc.
Then there’s the creative side…
As we develop as writers, one of the primary skills and disciplines we must learn is how to *finish* a work. There are a lot of would-be authors out there with a few to dozens of unfinished manuscripts. It’s a thing and you HAVE to learn to overcome it. A big piece of learning to finish a work is setting aside the New Shinies – the ideas that turn up, alluring as fae lights in the darkness, luring the unwary writer into a merry chase that leads nowhere. By the time the writer returns from the wild pursuit of flickering delight, their work in progress has aged and they have nothing to show for their efforts.
Sometimes an idea descends and demands to be written. It’s only happened to me a few times, but it’s happened recently and – though I have lot practice, skill, and discipline at resisting the siren song of the New Shiny – I finally capitulated to writing it. We’ll see what happens.