That New Manuscript Smell

On August 15, I turned in the third book in my current series.  Last week, I started writing book four.

I love this part.  Right now, the story is nothing but potential.  This could be the best thing I’ve ever written.  Heck, it could be the best story anyone has ever written.  (It could also be the worst, but we won’t think about that right now.)

I hate this part.  I have 660 words written, and about 90,000 left to go.  I’m going to spend the next year of my life working on this book, and it’s more than a little overwhelming.

I love this part.  I’m excited about this book and the ideas whirling through my mind.  I want to see it all come together.  It’s the same feeling you get when you see a movie preview that’s nothing but sheer awesomeness, and you can’t wait to get in and watch the whole thing.

I hate this part.  The hardest part of this job is trying to make the words on the page match the story and ideas in my head.  I know that my Outline of Awesomeness is going to get ripped apart, and that I’ll spend many nights awake in bed, wondering why the heck I didn’t see this problem coming, and is there any way to fix it without having to scrap 30,000 words of story and start over?

I love this part.  After three books, I know these characters pretty well.  This might be the final book in the series, at least for a while, which means I get to write scenes I’ve been building up to since the day I started.

I hate this part.  This might be the final book in the series, and I love these characters and their world.  I don’t want to just churn out formulaic crap for the sake of keeping a series alive, but I’ll miss these stories.

I love this part.  I get to write another book.  Thousands of people will read this story and get to share what I’ve created.  They’ll (hopefully) love Danielle, Talia, and Snow as much as I do, and they’ll have as much fun seeing what happens as I’ve had dreaming it all up.  A professional artist will paint a cover, and my publisher will pour their resources into helping to prepare the book, because they believe in it.  And some time in 2011 (probably), I’ll be able to walk into a bookstore and pull a copy of this book from the shelves and remember when it was nothing more than an empty page and a whirlwind of ideas.

There is no hate this time.  I get to write another book.  That, my friends, is simply awesome.  End of story.

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  1. 1. Elias McClellan

    Mr. Hines, as I aspire to the love/hate relationship so keenly address, I want to thank you for keeping it all in prospective. I have allow myself to wallow in my angst to the point that even my daily flight of fancy (in which I’m published to world-wide acclaim) feels more like my commute to the day gig.

    I tell myself that If I get up at 5 every day to make the drive to the office and work on my current story before doing the day begins, I’m a writer; if I don’t get up at 5 then I’m just another State employee.

    Like everyone else (I hope it’s not just me) I dream of tremendous success, riches, and oh yeah, the freedom to write full time. Sadly, the idea of writing became last in line to money and celibrity. But as the reality and economics of publishing drive home how unlikely King or Grisham money may be, the idea of writing full time is becoming more important than a crazy-fat bank account.

    Thanks for reminding me of why I’m writing without any idea beyond finishing the story. Thanks for reminding me of the pleasure of writing something better than the first draft. Thanks for reminding me of the joy of peer-review and the pain of peer-review that motivates me to write sharper, better, clearer.

    Thanks for reminding me to write.

  2. 2. Adam Heine

    Love this post. I’m starting a new book too, and I feel exactly the same way (except for the bit about knowing thousands of people will read it when I’m done – I’m still working on that part!).

  3. 3. Jim C. Hines

    @Elias – From one state employee to another, you’re very welcome. Writing is work, no doubt about it, but sometimes it’s easy for us to get so caught up in the work side that we start to forget about the joy and the love that pulled us here in the first place. I need the reminders as much as anyone.

    @Adam – Best of luck with the new project!

Author Information

Jim C. Hines

Jim C. Hines' latest book is THE SNOW QUEEN'S SHADOW, the fourth of his fantasy adventures that retell the old fairy tales with a Charlie's Angels twist. He's also the author of the humorous GOBLIN QUEST trilogy. Jim's short fiction has appeared in more than 40 magazines and anthologies, including Realms of Fantasy, Turn the Other Chick, and Sword & Sorceress XXI. Jim lives in Michigan with his wife and two children. He's currently hard at work on LIBRIOMANCER, the first book in a new fantasy series. Visit site.

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