I’ve come to realize, in the last week or so, that being a Professional Writer involves one skill I didn’t anticipate, and that’s the ability to gear-shift.
Before I started getting paid for this stuff, there were basically two stages for any given piece: writing and revision. Writing might require multiple sessions, and it might go through several rounds of revision, but those were the basics. Now that people are buying stuff, though, there are other stages: revision for the editor. Page proofs. Etc. And things like that don’t happen on my schedule anymore, so I can’t predict when I’m likely to have to shift gears into a story I haven’t thought about for months.
In the past week alone, I’ve revised “A Mask of Flesh,” worked on a synopsis for a novel, page-proofed “Sing for Me,” and gotten revision requests for “Such as Dreams are Made Of.” The only one of those I knew was coming was “A Mask of Flesh.” Everything else was a message showing up in my inbox, alerting me that I now had another item on my plate. I’ve done each of these things before, but this is the first time I’ve had enough pieces at enough points in the pipeline to find myself juggling unexpectedly.
I’m not complaining, mind you; it’s awesome that I’ve got two novels and half a dozen short stories on their way to publication. But in my daydreams, I always thought of myself as a novel writer, and so I mostly envisioned one project going on at a time. The necessity of going from Mesoamerican revenge weirdness to collegiate urban fantasy to imperial machinations to personified buildings didn’t really occur to me, and I’m having to develop my facility for rapid changes of mental gear.
Now, the day I get good enough to work on two novels at once, I’ll really be in business.
But I’m not holding my breath for that.