As I'm writing this, it's near the end of August. I'm reflecting on the mechanics of bringing work to the audience - my work, to be specific. All in various stages. Stuff partly written. Stuff written but in desperate need of a clean-up. Stuff already cleaned up, but needing more clean-up (yes, I know). Stuff currently sat with publishers. Stuff sat with publishers, already sold, and with time counting down to the publication date. As things currently stand, I've got work that might publish as early as Halloween this year. And as late as Halloween next year ...for work that was sold before this year.
Of course, apart from me telling you this - like here - you won't know any of that. Just what and when my last publication was. And that's okay.
One convo of late with a fellow author notes my level/frequency of output. I wouldn't necessarily say it was great volume, but I'm mindful to keep the work moving. The more writing I do, the more work I have available to shop around, and the more likely I am to sell something that much sooner.
Which means more of the good stuff to engage the audience with. Wow them; hopefully scare the shit outta them.
Back when I was a kid in primary school, there was an image on a poster that stuck with me. There's a machine set up to peel a banana, but it's stopped mid-peel. A monkey's hanging upside, seemingly asleep, by his tail - which is wrapped around the handle that works the machine. The caption? "Ideas don't work unless we do." As a writer, the same principle applies; consistent and regular graft for the output.
Earlier forays into writing with professional intent were to land as many short stories as quick as possible. With short stories, as opposed to novellas and novels, they take less time to write. Less time to edit. Less time to shop around and get a response on. Ultimately less time to sell. Back then, I wrote based on what publishers asked for in open calls, 'we're looking for this story, we're looking for that story.' An evolution of mindset now means I write the stories I want to write and when I want to write them - rather than waiting for an invitation. Which means I'm 'always writing' and often have something ready to sell should a publisher be in the market for something. All part and parcel of Game 101.
Having sold a number of short stories and built a small body of work meant I could then turn focus to longer fiction; at least, novellas. Work with my name on the cover. Which is a great personal lift to see your work in the marketplace, getting its props. My earliest foray into writing in the genre was novels. Then it was short fiction. And then novellas. By the time I came back around to novels again, I realised I'd evolved - and the previous approach for writing a novel didn't work. So that had to evolve too. As a result, the machinery around how I handle all my work, from short stories to novels, has also evolved. More audacious and daring ideas - evolving from earlier efforts - need more time to plot and outline. And research; let's not forget research. And the writing, editing, beta work - both for me and by me, submitting, promoting.
But the business of publishing can be slow, regardless. Here's the process, simplified:
Send it to a publisher.
Get it sold to publisher.
Work on prepping book for release (e.g. cover art, story notes, etc).
Promote book release (before, during, and after).
ALL of those stages take time. Which is fair enough - that's the nature of the beast. But, how much time? From experience, I've written work which has taken YEARS to see print from when a publisher first accepted it, let alone when I first wrote it. A lot can change in just ONE year. Your mindset can evolve. So can your craft. For someone like me who writes stories which are mostly based in the capital, the city can change, too. With a handful of exceptions, most of my work is not only based in London, but around a specific area or areas - and certainly around a specific time. Don't believe me? Look at any one of my stories. If it's based in London, you'll probably see the story starts with a location as well as a date and time; which is most likely when it was written. That said, stuff I'm writing now is based just before the pandemic - but that's a stylistic choice, more than anything. By pinning locations, dates and times to stories, it actually keeps the narrative fresh, instead of having the audience think it's current and then having it come off as dated.
The good thing is, at least for now, that you should (in theory) see a more consistent output from me, as a result of more fluid and cohesive machinery. Of course, some things are partly beyond my control, such as when a publisher will accept my work (assuming they do), let alone when they publish it. So, all going well, I'll be scaring the shit outta you more often.