why I have this icon

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .

. . . it was the time between contracts.

That’s right, folks, I am at present the writerly equivalent of unemployed. Aside from the copy-edits and page proofs for With Fate Conspire, I have no contractual obligation to a publisher. Which means it’s time to go rooting through the brain and figure out what I’m going to try and sell.

It’s a fun time because, dude! New ideas! Shiny! Four years of Onyx Court means four years’ worth of creative backlog, all kinds of characters and concepts that have been stewing away in my subconscious. Some that used to look all sparkly and keen have now faded, but others have arisen to take their place. Just off the top of my head, I can think of twenty-two books in six series that I would be willing and able to do next, plus some stand-alones. So I am living in a time of wondrous possibility, where anything could happen . . .

. . . or nothing. This is also the time where I chew off my fingernails, wondering if my sales figures are good enough, whether the ideas are commercial enough, second-guessing what would be the best thing to do next from a career point of view. Self-doubt creeps in, because right now I have no safety net, and the publishing industry is not exactly in good health. I don’t think I’m likely to find myself sans new contract, but it’s taken writers by surprise before, and what if I’m one of them?

And, of course, the worst part is that it’s slow. I have to polish up a proposal, send it to my agent, get her feedback, maybe polish it some more, then wait for her to submit it. After that, it might take weeks or even months to achieve resolution. Hence this icon.

You may be seeing more of it in the days to come.

0 Responses to “why I have this icon”

  1. time_shark

    Rootin’ for ya.

  2. alecaustin

    The doubt and the anxiety and slowness are all things I know well, even if not in the publishing industry.

    I had the dubious distinction of having 4 months warning before I was laid off from my last job (which turned into 6 months, +2 months of paid leave, due to being asked to lead design on the patch team for our game). I was sending out applications pretty consistently through all of it, up until the end, when I got the offer for my current job.

    The slowness let me read 3/4s of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin books and a giant pile of C.J. Cherryh (and finish drafting the novel I’d been working on for the last 3 years). But it also meant I was staying up late playing Modern Warfare 2 compulsively just to keep myself from dwelling on my doubts too much.

    I hope that you get a positive resolution (and associated contract offers) soon.

    • Marie Brennan

      Yeah, I obviously knew this was coming, so I’m not unprepared. But it’s a little hair-raising when these periods of uncertainty come passing through.

  3. marumae

    On one hand this sounds awesome! Freedom to write what you want! A chance to stretch your creative legs and do something fresh and leave behind a world you’ve been living in for a while! On the other hand after working on such big series there’d be a sort of creative exhaustion? IDK I hope for the best for you!

    • Marie Brennan

      Yeah, creative exhaustion is why I gave myself the month of December off (except for Yuletide, which I did explicitly because it was fun not-work writing). I feel more charged up now, but first I need to know which direction to charge in . . . .

  4. marycatelli

    Plus, of course, the need to make one’s self write without the pressure of deadlines.

  5. electricpaladin

    And this is why I don’t want to ever be a full-time writer. It would drive me nuts! I’m happy to have a full time career (teacher – so there goes my dreams of real job security) and write on the weekends and over the Summer. I might never get to be as successful as you are, but I think it’s better for me in the long run.

    In any case, you have my sympathies.

    • Marie Brennan

      Well, my husband is gainfully and securely employed, so I’m not totally unstable on a financial front. It’s more the psychological uncertainty that troubles me, wondering what and when my next book will be.

  6. theironchocho

    Best of luck, Marie.

  7. sartorias

    Think of this as the luxury to really get something worked up that you love, without that pressing deadline to move faster faster faster.

    (Youre way too good for this to be anything but a minor, interim thing.)

    • Marie Brennan

      Sadly, we both know being a good writer is not a guarantee of sales-figure security.

      Which is not to say I expect trouble. But I’ve had enough bobbles on the road to this point that I know better than to take my next contract for granted.

  8. greybar

    Best of fortune in the interim. I’m assuming that short story work is not an effective means of revenue generation? Okay for getting your name out but either not enough pay per piece or enough market out there to aborb the possible output? I say this not only in curiousity, but because I’ve found your short stories so delightful.

    • mrissa

      The professional cutoff rate for short stories is five cents a word. You can get somewhat more than that from some markets, especially if you are experienced, as is (and isn’t it weird to think of ourselves that way now? but we are both experienced short story writers, no way around it), but when you do the math on how many places a writer can sell stories at once, it doesn’t come out to a living in the speculative genres.

      , I hope the proposal writing part can at least be fun for you, if not the waiting. Stupid, stupid waiting.

      • green_knight

        I did the maths a few years ago and found there were more pro-rate novel slots than pro-rate short story slots. This means that you’re competing for the same price against a much greater competition (since each short story writer will circulate a larger number) and for a much lower reward.

        • mrissa

          Yep–so when you see a novelist writing short stories, the main reason is because they like them or have specific ideas of that length, not for the gobs and gobs of money.

      • Marie Brennan

        It’s really the waiting I hate. The proposals, as I have said, are Teh Shiny. ^_^

  9. unforth

    Sounds pretty exciting – in a paint drying kind of way. 🙂 Good luck!

  10. findabair

    Best of luck indeed! I feel for you – I’m unemployed myself at the moment, and while I trust I’ll find something soon, not knowing what or when is frustrating, to say the least.

  11. tltrent

    So looking forward to what you come up with next!

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