I recently finished work on a book that was so outside what I usually write that I'm still not sure if I should put my name on it. Don't want to confuse people. So as soon as my agent reads the damned thing (right, Al?) maybe we'll start deciding...then again, the whole thing might suck.
I also wrote an outline for a novel over the Christmas holidays that the agent really liked. He said it was BIG. It felt BIG. It had BIG written all over it. That's cool. Apparently, BIG is what sells, and if I stumbled across a BIG idea, I'll sure as hell embrace it. But with fifty pages under my belt, I now face the task of going back, starting over, and making it feel like me. Some of it does. More of it needs to. Just needs to be the sort of story I want to tell (check) in the way I want to tell it (getting there).
Thing is, I've got a whole bunch of books I want to write. Not all of them are BIG. A lot of them are small.
Small in stature but not in atmosphere, character depth, or violence, both emotional and physical. I just really dig noir and want to write lots of it, regardless of the market. But again, you can't turn away from a BIG idea when it comes and slaps you in the face, either. So I'm glad to write that, same as I'm glad to write literary short stories about Pentecostals and other strange folks, or bizarro stories that just don't make any goddamned sense, or a short poem once a year for no good reason.
You grab the story that gets you motivated, and tell the hell out of it--grind, grind grind. You don't lower the stakes, you don't make apologies, you don't self-deprecate, and you don't admire your work any more than you have to. You just tell the hell out of the story at hand, regardless of genre, mood, money, and fame.
So that's the answer to the question posed by the title. When I hit, "Now What?", I always say, "The one you can't ignore."
So long, suckers.
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