What do you do with yourself once you’ve completed the biggest project you’ve ever tackled in your life? that’s the question I’ve been asking myself since Wednesday.
My first step is to just rest and breathe. I think it would be a bad idea to dive right into the next big project without taking a little time to compose myself, so I spent most of yesterday cleaning my room and studio, starting my second book since Wednesday, and generally chilling out. Chilling out here, btw, means surfing inspirational TED talks and other fun stuff on the internets.
Today I made sure Luna Station got put in order. I’m also going to transcribe some general real life notes and pull out a stack of ‘to read’ books.
When that’s all done, I think I know what my next steps are. I think a reassessment is in order and I’ve got the tools I need to do it.
First, going back to Ray Bradbury, I re-watched the talk he gave that started me on my path a year ago. In it, he talked about writing down the things you fear and the things you love. I also was flipping through my various writing resources and found my character bio questionnaires. I realized that between these two things, I’ve got the perfect tools for self-assessment.
The Bradbury lists will be the 10 things I love, hate, fear, and desire. This is meant as solid touchstones for story ideas and places to look to when I need a character to feel something strongly.
The character questionnaires will be useful for two reasons. First, by answering them, I will know myself better. Second, I realized as I was reading through the questions that if I could not know how to answer them myself, there’s no way I’ll be able to answer them for a character. It will also make it easier, once I’ve gone through the questions, to tell if a character is just coming out sounding like me with a different name.
When all that is done, I think I know what’s going to happen. I’ve got a ton of short stories to edit (a fair few of which are not actually completed). those will be great for follow through on the writing project and keep me writing while I worldbuild.
The second task will be a shorter-term worldbuilding project with the intent of using the result in a stand-alone novel. The idea has been bouncing around my head for a couple of years and the fairy tales I wrote this year have given me the particular voice I think I need to write this story.
And lastly, there’s the massive, epic worldbuilding project. I don’t actually expect anything to come of that for a quite some time. I want to let it germinate and stew, to really meld. there’s no quick and easy way to work on it with any speed, and that’s okay. I’ve got plenty to do in the meantime.
So there it is. Process. Intent. And now I have to supply the follow-through.