Each day, I face a long list of novels I intend to write. I’m on track to publish my second novel later this year. I am constantly trying to decide which will be the focus of my third novel. Every day I walk more than five miles and every step is followed by the Muses. I rarely focus on the novel I am currently writing, and I feel guilty for it. Shouldn’t I concentrate on how the novel I am writing is unfolding? The Muses don’t seem to agree.
On my walk to work, I think of the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo in November 2011. It’s set in Tombstone, Arizona, in the late 1880s. I have the characters and basic plot all figured out, but the important question lingers: What is this novel really about? What is the point of it? Is there a deeper meaning, some simple yet enlightening conversation that takes place around the campfire, as would happen in a novel by Cormac McCarthy?
At the office, during a brief lunch break, I finally get around to thinking about the current novel. It’s a pivotal scene, and how do I twist it to add an element of surprise? In this case, I often surprise myself. Last week, one of my favorite characters was killed. I never intended for him to die, but after several intense chapters full of battles, it seemed inevitable once I got to a certain point. I stopped writing for a week to mourn his passing.
During my walk home, I ponder the novel set in 1890s Algeria. The overall meaning and purpose of this novel is clear, as are the characters. But the plot is huge and runs the risk of being overly complicated. How do I define a clear story arc?
After dinner, I relax by the television, but my thoughts are not on the show I am watching. It’s the dystopian future novel, a work of speculative fiction. I’m utterly absorbed in the task of world-building, and constructing a society heavily influenced by an ancient culture. Earth’s history was entirely different here, but I hardly know the characters at all. Their world hasn’t developed enough yet. But I see the world in which they reside.
As I go to sleep, another Muse turns my attention to the fantasy trilogy that has been brewing in my imagination since my long-lost days of playing Dungeons and Dragons back in the early 1980s. Is it too trite? An amalgam of fan fiction based on all the fantasy stories I’ve come to adore over the years? But wait…if I take this approach, it will be a very unique story….
And then…what about the one set in medieval Baghdad, inspired by One Thousand and One Nights? And I hope to turn my short story Ivy League Crypt into a novel sometime….And what about the one set in Moorish Spain?
Which one will be the focus of NaNoWriMo in November 2012? I write every day, no matter what. Does it matter which one I work on? It’s all progress, right? Or is it a diffusion of inspiration and creativity, trying to please too many Muses at once? The current novel is still on track. When I finished The Veiled Mirror, I struggled for two years on deciding which novel would be the second work. I feel better prepared now for when the second novel comes to an end. Or do I? Once thing is certain, though. I am grateful for an abundance of Muses.