It's not something that I like to do, but I turned in Below, and I told myself after that I would begin working on a new novel. Unfortunately, I don't approach the idea clean, free, and feeling as if I can do anything that I want, and that in itself creates a problem. I've blogged a couple of of times about the experience of trying to sell Under the Red Sun, the last time being the Angry Robot experience, which is of no real importance now. I'm still knocking on doors, but the truth is, it's time to start creating something new, in the hope that I can sell that, too--but the last year I've spent trying to find a new agent with the Red Sun novel, with and without the 'almost' sold tag on it, have left their mark on me. Through friends and just plain cold calling (so to say--I never actually call anyone) I've gone through a fair chunk of agents. Most have been nice enough--though there's been the ones who never replied, and the ones who took months (one took a year) to get back to me, but like I said, most have been very positive. A lot of agents have read the whole book and I have been called a wonderful writer, a genius, and other such useless complimentary terms that pale next to the oft repeated line, 'not commercial'.
That line, I've found, has gotten to be a little. I have half a dozen ideas running round in my head at any given time, and as I've moved on to the self imposed deadline of starting a new novel, that tag of poor commercial appeal has been hard to shake. I don't honestly believe it--I think all my ideas and everything I write has mass appeal, who doesn't?--but the truth of it is, I'm a single guy who lives by himself, runs his own part time business, has very little savings, and last week, my TV, my stove, and my heater broke, resulting in a system of 'what can I fix first' world. That's no different to a lot of other people in the world, but I'd rather not live the way that I do forever. I couldn't live that way if I shared my life with anyone (I hate being unable to pay my own way, as it is) and I'd also not like to spend another year writing a novel only to be told, again and again, what a fine writer I am, and if only I had written something commercial, just as I'd like not to have to leech off my friends for introductions, or some advice, you know? I guess what I'm saying is, I'm finding that the last year has left its mark on what I want to do, and I'm not entirely pleased by it.
I'd like to say, nah, fuck it, I'll do what I want, but it's not happening. In the planning stages I find myself saying, a little of this, coupled with that--take out that, have an ending that works on this level, and so on and so forth. It's not a dilution or the original idea because there's lots of ideas, but it feels as if I am second guessing myself, and not letting what I want to do naturally come out, and I have to work against that. Good writing, I believe, comes from your natural instincts, your passions, and your beliefs. It's one of the reasons why a lot of work is bland, and passionless, I find, because the author is trying to hit a note that he or she doesn't feel, or understand.
Myself, I find that making sure I am writing to what I find natural, and my instincts, is a challenge after the last year. It feels as if it's a weakness to acknowledge it, a sense of failure, somehow, but there's not point in denying it.
As challenges go, it's just another part of selling creativity.