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Excited

I've noticed an interesting phenomenon recently about myself that I thought I'd share with everyone. I'm never excited about the project that is closest to being ready to show to other people.

Maybe I should explain a bit. My writing process tends to consist of three separate phases. The first phase is the outlining, character sketching, and creation of all of the background things that make the world unique or cool.

The next phase is actually sitting down to hammer out a rough draft, after which I finish up with all of the editing passes and start querying.

Of the three, the first is definitely my favorite. I love building the plot, the rules of magic or history, and learning about my characters is becoming more and more rewarding with each book I write.

The rough draft isn't too bad. It's a difficult exercise in willpower to sit down and put 80,000 words onto the screen, but it's still interesting to see the ways in which things change from what I originally intended. Once the rough draft is done I typically let it sit for a few months before going on to the next step.

Editing and querying are pretty much just a torturous task that I do because otherwise there isn't much point in doing the first two stages.

All of that is significant only inasmuch as it means that by the time I finally have a book ready to be shopped around I've pretty much mentally moved on to another project. Don't get me wrong, I usually still like the completed book, but I'm not as excited about it as I am the thing that I've just finished outlining, or putting down on a rough draft.

I've really noticed it lately as I've been working my way through one last edit of 'Frozen Prospects' (previously called 'The Trial') before publishing it to Amazon and B&N. I think it's a great story, but since then I've roughed out a sequel and both Torn and Broken. I like the Trial, but I'm seriously crazy about where Adri and Alec are headed right now.

I expect that this relatively minor problem for me is a bigger deal for big name authors who are actively publishing. By the time their books actually make it through the printing runs and hit the bookstores, I expect that most of them have another project that they are more excited about than the book the fans are actually seeing, but they need to go out and actively help sell their book in interviews and book signings.

So what do I personally take away from this little bit of trivia? Well, it's important to find ways to maintain our excitement about any given project. When you run into a fan who's excited about a given book, you need to be ready and able to share in that excitement.

I'm personally starting to consider keeping a brief journal as I work through each project. Nothing too fancy, but something that will serve to remind me just what it was that I loved about each book. For example, in the Greater Darkness I loved how easily the fight sequences came together for me. I loved the ending even more, it was the first time that the words really seemed to come together for me without any effort on my part.

I personally was coming to the end of this long journey of writing the book after a period of pretty drastic upheaval in my life, while Geoffry was just embarking on his journey. We were both finally doing what we wanted to do, and I felt an amazing sense of symmetry with my character.

I think that going back to those experiences and basking in what we felt at those times is a great way to get ourselves through the phases that we don't enjoy as much. How you do it isn't as important as the fact that you have some way to keep up your level of excitement. In the end transitory excitement isn't ever going to be enough to carry you through to the end of any project, but it can't hurt.

Copyright 2009 by Dean Murray

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