I haven't posted in a while, so I apologize to my regular blog readers (yes, both of you!). The baby is expected any time. Tomorrow I'm going on leave from the day job for most of the summer, so hopefully I'll be online more. I also plan to finish (or at least draft) the rest of the third Jenny Pox during that time. I'm currently on Chapter 6. :)
What I'm blogging about today is intuition vs. logic. I've been looking back on this writing journey and noticing this pattern: Choices made on the basis of logic and reason don't pay off as well as those based on intuition. (Intuition, I should note, is something different from "doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it.")
For years, I wrote novels when nobody was publishing them and breaking into the publishing industry appeared impossible. Nobody was paying me a cent, almost nobody was reading them, yet writing the books felt important in some indefinable way. Logically, based on the evidence, it was a waste of time, but it didn't feel at all like a waste of time; I was doing what I was made to do. I think beavers feel the same way when they're building a lodge (though I can't know for sure). I had no way of knowing, and no reason to believe, that the books would ever get out into the world where people could find them.
Then the big ebook wave came and changed all of that, and I had books ready to go. (There are, of course, a number of older novels that won't be published because they were just part of my learning process.) In this case, I was right to take intuition over logic, to do what felt right rather than take safe bets.
Another example: When I wrote Helix, I immediately wanted to write more about that universe. I would have written a trilogy, but logic told me "no." Why write sequels to a novel nobody's reading in the first place? If I couldn't get the first one published, I would certainly never get the second one published. So I didn't write any more. Now, if I had, the whole trilogy would already be available on Kindle, Nook and everywhere else my stuff goes.
In that case, I chose logic over intuition, and I lost out. There's nothing to stop me writing them, and everything to encourage me to do it--Helix isn't my best-selling novel, but it at least pays my utility bills every month, and I really like it. The second Helix is on my to-do list. Maybe it will be the next book I write after the third Jenny Pox is released. Or maybe not. I've learned not to plan too far ahead with my writing projects. Anyway, the point is that I could have had all those books ready to go. This has worked well for Amanda Hocking and David Dalglish, who each had a series of books already written when they first uploaded to Kindle.
Also, I was never as aggressive as I was supposed to be about connecting with agents and editors. I would finish a project, sent out some query letters, then move onto the next thing. I didn't submit many short stories anywhere. I never went to writers' conferences--I attended one in college, and that was that. While writing itself was always fulfilling and never felt like a waste of time, querying and reaching out the New York publishing industry always felt like a waste of time. I always had this feeling like, "Well, I'm obligated to do this, because it's the only thing to do when you're trying to get a book out into the world. But this isn't how it's going to happen for me. There's no point sending these things out." Not very logical--here I was trying to get books published, but I felt a deep resistance to querying and that sort of thing. I don't know what I expected to happen.
Well, here's what happened: ebooks became a big thing, the biggest evolution in books since Gutenberg, and now I'm reaching thousands of readers across the world every month (thanks, readers!). I had no logical reason to believe my half-hearted querying was a waste of time, and every logical reason to believe that it was the only way my books could get anywhere. Despite my devotion to the craft of writing, I couldn't bring myself to focus on selling books. It just didn't interest me. And ultimately, it didn't matter whether I ever wrote a single query letter or not. It really was a waste of time, in my case.
So far it's intuition 3, logic 0 when it comes to major decisions about my writing. There are more examples--like this horror novel I wrote about a girl whose touch infects people with a supernatural plague. I did this because I thought the story would be interesting--in fact, I felt intensely compelled to write it--even though horror is hardly a top-selling genre these days.
It turned out there was a huge market for the story, a genre called "YA paranormal" of which I had never heard. And it turned out that this is one of the most popular genres among book bloggers. Score another one for intuition.
So, this is my goal: I'm going to be more reckless. I'm going to take bigger risks. I'm going to jump out there and do whatever feels right to me, no matter how crazy it looks to other people.
Because that's the only damn thing that works.