As I near the end of a manuscript (which I'm doing now), my mind starts moving ahead to the next project. With me, there are always other projects waiting. If someone were to look in my My Docs folder, they may just shake their head. In addition to the three dozen or so "loose" documents, I have folders. One for ABA (containing another few dozen ideas I've worked on to some extent or another), and then a folder for each CBA idea I've carefully hewn out. Once an idea earns more than one document, i.e. notes as well as a few pages of text, they get a folder. (There are six, at the moment.)
The real challenge? Figuring out what to dedicate my time to. There are the sequels to books currently under consideration. These will obviously have to be written at some point (see, optimism!), but I need to wait to see what sells first. There are the off-the-wall ideas that often form in a flurry of "what if"s throughout a single day, spurred by who-knows-what. (Like, what's something my friend Stephanie [YA writer] and I could work on together that we could pitch to Andy Meisenheimer of Zondervan [who's looking for weird stuff and is hilarious about it]? Oh, I know! . . .) There are the ideas that I am totally in love with, but which may be a hard sell.
Part of me says, "Who cares what's selling now? Don't write for the trends. Write for the heart." And part of me says, "Yeah, but Janet (my agent) specifically requested I keep to American-set historicals or else contemporaries. And I trust Janet."
For instance, I have this awesome idea for a Victorian-era story that must be set in England. I could contort certain aspects of it and make it New England instead, but then I'd lose the identity of my characters. So what do I do? Write it anyway, and hope that my Victorian novel already out there sells by the time I finish it? Wait until I have a relationship with an editor and then say, "Look, I have this idea. What do you think?"
Because the research for this one is going to be daunting. But I not only believe in the story, it occasionally haunts me. (Now being one of those times.) I'll occasionally pull out the prologue I wrote and read through it, sigh a little, try to feel the characters. Until now they hadn't been real enough for me to really dive into now. Now though . . . well, yesterday I took that 9 page prologue, ditched it, and wrote a new 5 page one. So I'm kinda in the groove.
I've heard non-writers ask writers, "Where do all your ideas come from?" For me, the answer is EVERYTHING. Seriously. I get ideas constantly--just ask my crit partners, who are occasionally treated to rambling emails on my various unpersued projects. The harder question is, "How do you know what to focus on?"
The answer? Prayer. And then I keep an eye open for the pointing of the Lord. A year ago, He showed me pretty clearly it wasn't time to write this new Victorian (even though I'd just spent $75 on research books). But now it's time to break out that prayer again. Maybe He'll say, "It's time for this one." Or maybe He'll show me something else. Maybe another contemporary. Maybe an American historical. Maybe that weird "What if" idea. Who knows?
Either way, it's an exciting time, this point where one project will be finished and another picked up. A time when you get to see the flower of one project bloomed full and another bud right beside it, still perfect with its closed petals, no blight or flaw upon it.
"What," you get to wonder, "might you be in a few months?"