Monday, January 5, 2015

The Year of the Popcorn Kittens

Good Morning. For the last two weeks, since Monster's winter break began, I've been laying around the house, visiting with friends, eating like a small tornado, and just pretty much been living in the real world -- something I haven't done in almost five years. I had almost forgotten what it feels like to be "normal". Whatever that entails.

I finished the last book in my Reluctant Grooms series in November. Once that went to publication, I went back in and line edited (again) the rest of the books in the series, tweaked a few things in the Hesitant Husbands series, changed my backmatter across all the books, and reformatted everything for upload to Google Play. (Again. No, I haven't uploaded those yet. As soon as Monster returns to school, I'll let you know how it goes.)

As the volunteer Gift Card Coordinator for Monster's school, December is a crazy month. Everyone wants gift cards, second quarter reports are due, end of year reports are due, balance reports are due in January, and next year's projected budget need to be thought about. It's a full time job to be sure, albeit with no pay. While on winter break, I tackled a bunch of that stuff so I could start January with a fairly clean slate.

To say I've been busy is an understatement. I just realized I haven't written a blog post since the beginning of December. I knew it had been awhile, I just didn't think it had been a month.

Now that the series is finished, I've been thinking about my life as a writer. What to do, what to write, where to start. Five years ago, I wrote up a business plan. Believe it or not, I accomplished everything on it. Time to write a new one. Thinking ahead to 2020 has me stymied.

A few years ago, Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote a blog post called  "Popcorn Kittens"  (or something to that effect). For those of you who follow her, you know exactly what I'm talking about here. For those of you who do not follow her, you should.

In a nutshell, the post deals with the possibilities of writing whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. Oh the ideas! One kept popping up right after another, like the kittens on the video.

And this is where I am right now -- in the middle of a herd of popcorn kittens.

I have so many ideas, I can't decide which one to tackle first.

The beginning novel to the new Regency series?
The contemporary romance that's been sitting on the hard drive for the last 4 years?
The sequel to Remembering You?
The surprise Valentine's Day Regency novella?
The literary fiction that won't shut up in my head?
The short story/flash fiction mash-up contemporary boomer romance that's been haunting me since 2012?
The fictionalized version of the real life drama I endured last year as the gift card coordinator?

I need to make a decision and stick with it.

Writing the Regency series was weird -- in that I had never intended to write an entire series. When I began writing THE LADY'S MASQUERADE, my intention was a trilogy. Now it encompasses 6 novels, and 2 novellas, with another 4 novellas on the side.

During the writing of those first three novels, I also wrote the contemporary romance REMEMBERING YOU. Back then my writing was more or less a hobby. I had no idea what I was doing, had just moved to NC, was trying to find a job, and writing to keep my head out of the depression because the job market tanked (Remember the crash?). Somewhere around the 4th Regency novel, when I received an email from a "fan" did I realize that writing WAS a JOB. (Will someone please explain this to my parents? They still think I'm writing as a hobby.)

The real problem with popcorn kittens is, they're so much fun to watch, I can't get anything done. They aren't part of my job description. After spending five years on Regency romance, I'd like to take a break for a few months. But why then do I feel so guilty every time I think about contemporary romance? If I take a year off to write other things, will my fans desert me? If I start the Regency series, will I be able to finish it in a timely manner? In today's market, it seems if you don't have a new book out every four months you lose whatever traction you've gained. (And I know this from first-hand experience.)

Looking ahead to 2020 (my God, that is just crazy), I know I'll finish up the new series. And maybe throw in a couple of contemporary somethings in there for good measure. I have a lot to write about and I'm sure I'll get new ideas along the way. But for right now, I need to begin something.

Tell me -- Are any of you experiencing this kind of angst about your writing? Are you on track with your business plan? Do you know exactly what comes next in your writing life?

Here for your viewing pleasure is The Original Popcorn Kittens video.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2015


Sarah Ahiers said...

Glad to hear you had a great (albeit busy) holiday!
I have yet to reach the popcorn kitty stage, though maybe i will one day. Time will tell, I suppose!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That is some big decisions there. I don't do five year plans. Too much can change in the meantime.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

How cool that you accomplished everything on your five year plan! I'm impressed you even wrote one. I can do a one or two year plan but beyond that I freeze up.

Anne Gallagher said...

Sarah -- You have other things on your plate besides writing, so the kitties aren't really kitties to you.

Susan -- That's what I'm afraid of. Things do change -- rapidly -- and I don't want to start something I won't finish. I have too many of those in my hard drive already.

Karen -- I was driven. Some say crazy, but at least now the series is finished. Five years is a long time, but more manageable than 10. If I chop it down to a book a year, I think I can accomplish that. If something else gets done, then I'm ahead of the game.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Okay, there was 3 minutes I didn't do anything. Okay, I laughed. Man, gotta stay away from YouTube. :)

Maria Zannini said...

I'm on a book writing hiatus for at least two years, but I still blog and write articles.

To that end, I keep a list of popcorn kitten topics. They're great kick starters when I'm feeling spent.

Carol Kilgore said...

Good luck with choosing what to write. If you choose one and it doesn't feel right after you start, choose something else.

S.P. Bowers said...

What a blessing to have popcorn kitten ideas. That video reminded me of how much I love kittens. My kittens have grown into cats and I'm afraid I'm not as enchanted with them anymore.

Anne Gallagher said...

Stacey -- I know. How many videos have I watched and wasted writing time. But hey, popcorn kittens are just so cute.

Maria -- Wow, two years??!! I wouldn't know what I would do if I couldn't write for two years. Whether it was self-imposed hiatus or not. But I LOVE your blog.

Carol -- I learned my lesson the hard way...once I start I have to finish otherwise I end up with half-written manuscripts clogging up my hard drive.

S.P. -- I know, I hate that about kittens -- they grow up. I wish they could stay young forever.

~Sia McKye~ said...

You have had a busy time.

I'm just getting back into my writing routine after a bit of time off. I took a much needed hiatus from the blog--the first one of that sort since I started blogging in 2009.

I like the thought that one needs to allow the "kittens" to pop into your mind and play. For sure write down the ideas--you never know which will be nice enough to tell you all it's story. :-)

Parents always have their own ideas of one's life and how should be spent. I find it a lesson in futility to change their minds. :-)

I loved your comtemporary. I think you should write the story that's nagging you the most. I can't see you losing your fans :-)