It’s said that Isaac Asimov would work on several manuscripts at once, leaving different typewriters set up around his apartment, and when he got stuck or tired of working on one, he would get up and switch to a different typewriter, different manuscript. True? I don’t know, but it does make for great writers’ folklore.
I am no Isaac Asimov. In fact, for someone with such a rich fantasy life I feel the need to write it down, I’m shockingly linear. No, I’m not one of those writers with a spreadsheet and 135 page outline before I begin the first draft, but I do start at the beginning. After the first scene I write the second scene, and so on. Sure I go back and edit; change things, delete things, add a layer throughout the manuscript, but I have never written an entire scene or chapter with the idea of “I’ll know where it goes/decide where it belongs later on.” Maybe it’s a product of not working from a detailed outline, what I write today determines what I write tomorrow, and I can only work on one project at a time. The exception is this blog. Yes, it’s writing, works the fine motor skills and powers of description, but apart from moments of creative license (mostly to protect the innocent), it isn’t what I think of when I feel that flash of panic and excitement looking at the blinking cursor.
The one way my writing doesn’t follow the straight and narrow path is genre. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. I write short lit fic pieces, shorter than the average short story but not short shorts. I write full length manuscripts that are somewhere between lit fic and women’s fiction (so, mainstream?). And I write romance. “Write the book of your heart!” Well, my heart is fickle. I enjoy writing all three.
Yeah yeah, insert heaving bosom and throbbing manhood cracks here. True, the cover art isn’t much better than it used to be, and the titles haven’t changed with the times, but the content has. Romance has always and will always equal a happy ending, but how you get there reflects the times. And the publishing house. There’s something fun, something…satisfying in writing within the closer boundaries and confines of romance.
You know how there are some people in your life where when, how, and the time period you met them in have as much to do with the development of your relationship as who they are? The characters who begin to take shape in my mind, filling in and fleshing out as they “walk around” and interact other characters, are much like those real life relationships. I’m all about characters, but some make sense in a short story, some in a romance, while others belong in longer mainstream manuscripts.
I don’t switch from one to the other in the same day, week, or month, but I do have two partial manuscripts right now; one romance, the other my as yet undefined for the shelves hybrid. I feel ready to get back to one of them, but I’m not sure which one. This is the first time I’ve been faced with this, I’ve always known when it was time for me to work in each genre. Maybe I’m just procrastinating, throwing up a mental road block so I don’t get back to work. The hybrid needs some serious revisions, tearing apart and reconstructing before I can go forward. Freaking out my little linear mind.
Whatever the reason is, I don’t like it. I have periods where I write, and periods where I don’t, but this feeling of being stuck is less productive than either one. Do you stick to one genre when you’re reading? How about my writing readers? Are you a circular writer or linear? One genre or multiple?