Since I began writing as a teenager, I’ve always had multiple stories in the works at once. I think my highest number was twelve! Just like I’m a mood writer incapable of sticking to a To-Be-Read list, I’m a mood writer as well. I consider myself incapable of being monogamous to my stories, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. With persistence, I usually manage to finish what I start!
The first time I sat down to write a story in earnest when I was fifteen, I thought that I would be writing one thing at a time. Quickly, my brain disabused me of that notion. Within weeks I had written a five-chapter story as well as two other, shorter stories. None of them were very good, of course. However, they were the first non-schoolwork writing I had ever completed.
Over the past twenty-three years, I’ve clocked in almost five hundred thousand words across forty-one fanfiction stories of various lengths. That’s in addition to several original works in progress of anywhere between two thousand and forty thousand words and a multitude of college writing assignments. At no point have I worked on fewer than three works in progress at a time, although I’ve made the attempt once or twice.
If I do try to concentrate on a single work in progress for longer than a couple weeks, inevitably something will pop into my head that needs attention right away. I’ll tell myself that I’ll just jot down a few ideas, and then before I know it, I have a full blown first draft. If I don’t jot those ideas down and don’t lose the idea in the process, it will hound me for days or weeks until I give in. New ideas tend to be relentless like that.
Currently, I have three fanfiction stories in progress, one that needs to be started for a fanzine, and three original ideas I’m trying to flesh out. The fanfiction stories have been in progress since some time last year, and I hope to wrap them up by the end of this one. I’d like to concentrate on mostly original work for a while, although I’m sure fanfiction will draw me back in eventually. It tends to do that.
ORIGINAL WRITING DERAILED
However, I have a lot queued up on the original fiction side, maybe more than I should. At beginning of June, I had one idea I really even thought about working on. It’s a bit of a retelling of Childe Ballad, because I’m that kind of nerd. The plan is to have fae and humans and an alternate realm, with a heroine whose life is in danger from the very beginning.
It sounded great to me, and still does. However, about halfway through outlining what will be first book, I decided to try and self-publish it eventually. That’s when I went down the rabbit hole in truth.
When I first made my decision, I had no idea the enormous amount of effort necessary to be not just a self-published author, but one with books people might actually want to read. I went through several publishing strategies in my head, and the one I finally settled on was to write and publish some novellas first before I attempt to publish what I thought of as my actual novels.
I came up with ideas for nine fairy tale retellings with the help of some writing friends. I thought they’d make good novellas and settled in to outline the first one. Then I realized that nope, this is going to end up being more novel length. And looking at the other ones, most of them have the potential to be novel length, too.
Cue hitting my head on the metaphorical desk. This wasn’t the plan at all.
At the same time that I came to the realization that maybe these nine stories aren’t going to be novellas, I was still neck deep in learning the basics of what I needed to do to self-publish. All the loudest advice says get an audience first. To do that, be on all the social media platforms, have a website, a newsletter, a blog, and get your name out there in as many ways as possible.
So now, I’m writing two blog posts a week. I have two possible novel series running around in my brain. And I have to figure out newsletter content. What better way to do that then to look at some of my old short stories, ones I wrote for my college creative writing classes, and see if any of them are worthy of putting into a newsletter as part of my content?
I found a story I really liked, an urban fantasy-esque story about a woman meeting her vampire neighbor and landing a job as his personal assistant. I thought this would be great. Polish it up, and send it out at the end of October as part of a Halloween newsletter. What better, right?
Except no. Now, in addition to a fae alternate realm trilogy, a nine-part fairy tale retelling series, and blog posts, my brain thinks it’s okay to start planning to make this either a series of novellas or a whole novel series with a paranormal romcom premise.
This is how my mind works. I don’t know why, but I just can’t seem to focus on one story at a time. Eventually, they’ll all get done. Thanks to the wonderful people in the 20BooksTo50K Facebook group, I have a lovely spreadsheet to help me plan out how many words for each project I’ll need to write over the next fifteen months. As long as my chronic anxiety and depression or my fibromyalgia don’t kick in, I may have novels ready to publish as early as next year. Hopefully, I’ll have some paranormal romcom novellas published even earlier, if I can time my writing correctly and don’t get overwhelmed.
FUTURE GOALS AND HOW TO GET THERE
Right now, my plan is simply to survive through National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I will be writing the first of the fairy tale retellings, working title Reluctant Princess (although that’s likely to change), for that. Hopefully I’ll have the outline done on schedule, which should be October 25th. Then I can be ready to start writing on November 1st.
After NaNoWriMo, I’ll have a lot of work ahead of me. I need to write and edit a total of approximately 124,000 words by the end of the year. Thankfully, that includes the blog posts I’ve finished and scheduled to be posted throughout October and November, a total of 8,098 words, not including this post! And of course, that will include the 50,000 words I need to write for NaNoWriMo.
Next year will be even harder as I’ll need to write about 521,000 words. That’s an average of 40,000 words a month! Hopefully this planner will help me reach my goals and I’ll have several books ready to publish by the end of next year, as well as a more fleshed out blog with loads of posts and a well-established newsletter with fun content.
I’m crossing my fingers and toes on this one, folks. I’d appreciate any well wishes you want to send my way as I truly start out on my non-monogamous writing journey.
© Allyson Pauley 2021