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Contractual Thoughts
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I've been thinking about my productivity lately. I write pretty quickly. This was never an issue before, because most of what I wrote, I didn't sell anyway. The ratio of stuff-I-write to stuff-I-sell used to be something like 20:1. Lately it's been creeping a whole lot closer to 1:1 (partly because I'm writing more short stories when solicited, which improves chances of acceptance; partly because I'm a better writer than I was ten years ago; and partly because I'm just better known in the field, which makes it easier to sell stuff). It's still not really a problem with stories. There are lots of markets for stories. That productivity is a problem with novels. I'm under contract to do two books for Bantam, and they get first look at my next fantasy novel after that. Now, it happens that I'm a revision away from finishing that next fantasy novel (the Bridge novel), and I think my editor will really love it. But, contractually, I can't even try to sell it to her until a few months after she accepts the second book on my current contract. This makes total sense. It's not like it does them any good to have a big ol' backlog of my novels, right? But it does mean that I have an almost-finished novel that I can't try to sell until (probably) sometime in 2008. That's a long time to have a novel sitting in my filing cabinet.

I can write a book a year. In fact, if I don't write a book a year, I'm apt to get all antsy and cranky because I don't have an immersive project to occupy my mind. But if I write another fantasy novel, it'll probably be 2009 or 2010 before I can try to sell it. Oof.

So I thought to myself, how do other fast writers handle this? Ah, well, Elizabeth Bear has one publisher for her SF and one for her fantasy (and her new book Blood & Iron just came out!). Charles Stross does the same thing (and his new novel Glasshouse is out now too). That's an option for me, too. I could write a science fiction book and sell it somewhere.

I don't write much SF, though. I'm more of a fantasy guy. I write some SF -- "Lachrymose and the Golden Egg" and "Morris and the Machine" are SF, of a very soft variety, admittedly. But I started thinking about SFnal ideas that appeal to me, and there are some. Many-worlds theory, time travel, and steampunk, for instance. I wrote a long story called "Dream Engine" that will be in my collection next year, which is science-fictional, about a city called Nexington-on-Axis that exists outside of normal space-time, providing access points to various planets and universes. It's got a very culture-clash, many-alien-cultures vibe, with lots of mingling of high and low tech, and some oddball steampunk aspects too. I've actually had an idea for another long story set (partly) there, and I realized yesterday that it could pretty easily become a YA novel. So my next book project will probably be a science fiction YA. Will it sell? I dunno. I can't even guarantee it'll get written. But knowing it's an option soothes my mind greatly.

Of course, I still get rejected a lot -- I got a one-day rejection on a story yesterday. (Rejections are never nice, but at least it was fast, and they want to see more of my stuff, etc.) But almost all the stuff I'm writing these days sells eventually, as opposed to the old days, when I'd send stories around for a few years and then trunk them forever.

***

It's my day off, but we had to get up early early so Heather could get to a 7:30 a.m. dentist appointment. Oof. On the bright side, that meant I was conscious much earlier than usual, and so I've already gotten some stuff done, before 9 a.m., even. I did all our grocery shopping for the next couple of weeks. I like going to grocery stores at 8 in the morning. They're not very crowded, the employees are friendly (!), and apart from giant pallets of stuff blocking the aisles, there's no downside. I even bought some yummy food for lunch, to prevent myself from going out for a cheeseburger and fries and a milkshake (around noon I'll get an insane urge to do that anyway, but I'm trying to economize and stop eating like the hedonist I am, so I'll be strong). I was going to get the oil in the car changed, since we're road-tripping this weekend, but the oil change place wasn't even open yet. So I figured I'd do a little "work" and then get the oil changed later in the morning. "Work" at this point consists of typing this entry...



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