Is It A Sin To Stop One Book And Start Another?
A few weeks ago, I was merrily plodding though my newest espionage thriller, the sequel to (my Amazon best seller…shameless plug) Secret Wars: An Espionage Story. I had spent months researching Secret Wars 2 (SW2), with the results nicely categorized in binders by my side. Portions of my brain supercharged with plotting, outlining, characters, and stress consumed the energy of every waking thought. My fifteen hundred-word a day goal was set. I had a calendar and I was sticking to it. I had a stack of Diet Coke ready for the long nights. I was 25,000 words into SW2 and my writing temperature was starting to rise. Things were flowing. Until I had breakfast…
It was with a friend who is a New York Times #1 selling author who was visiting Chicago. His agent had reviewed my work, liked my writing, but thought the historical fiction nature of the Secret Wars books was not marketable. We can debate that, but it was a nice exchange that I appreciated.
Over a brisket skillet he told me to stop writing SW2. It went something like this:
“He likes your writing, or he wouldn’t have said it. Believe me, that’s not him,” the friend said while chewing a mouthful of eggs.
“Maybe he will like the next book,” I hoped.
“No! Stop that one. He is interested in selling.”
“But I have already started book two.”
“You have another story. It is contemporary and no one has written a story like that.”
“True, but I would need to stop and do research,” I replied defensively. I couldn’t even image stopping after six months of work, to start something cold.
“Do it! It’s the book I want to read. Totally separate it from the other books. But it’s your decision, of course.”
“What if I finish SW2 and then do the other book?”
“He knows who you are now. A year from now, you are forgotten.”
I played with the delicious breakfast in front of me and sucked down another Diet Coke.
My brain seized up like a poorly maintained 52 Ford engine. How could I possibly stop one book and start another? Isn’t there some rule about that that?
I had an idea and some plot elements, but I would have to research quickly and start writing, and hope the muse strikes. Was there really a rainbow here? Should I be doing this solely on the basis of one conversation, essentially hoping this agent liked it? Certainly I could ship it out and self publish. Then start SW2 and have two series going at once. This is quite a reach.
For over a week, I sat and thought about it. Noodled on some ideas. Asked friends. Posted the quandary to Facebook.
Ten days later I started the new book. A sinner.
I am not sure exactly why. It IS an angle that I have a unique perspective, corporate intelligence. Can I make that exciting? As I have written in previous pieces, espionage books are boring. And corporate espionage books are fatally boring—not many explosions and cold-blooded assassins. But that is what makes this a challenge, for sure.
There is a certain level of apprehension having a partially completed book sitting there. There is also a level of excitement.
Let me know if you have sinned.
I will keep you posted.