Friday, April 18, 2014

Starting from Scratch

by M.L. Buchman

Some things, I find, get easier with practice.
The sailboat I rebuilt in the early 1980s and learned to sail solo
Riding my bicycle at the northernmost tip of Japan
-in the 34 degree driving rains of May 1993
Other things don't get easier with practice. I have written 25 novels and a dozen short stories. I was talking with a friend who has a hundred novels and passed a thousand short stories a long time ago. And he remarked how no one believes how hard it is to start from scratch. In his case, he went on a three-year hiatus for a number of reasons and was once again staring at a blank page. In my case, I just finished my Angelo's Hearth series and I'm looking at the blank page of a whole new series.

You would think that it would be easier because I just launched a new romantic suspense series called Firehawks, or will on May 6th with the release of Pure Heat. The problem with that theory is that Pure Heat started as a pitch to my traditional publisher Sourcebooks two years ago. After the contract was done, I finished the novel and turned it in a year ago. I'm now working on #3 in the series which won't be released until Summer 2015. Actually #4 as I have a short novel coming out in the series in June.

But my new series is a puzzlement (to quote the King and I). I  remember back when I was starting my second novel. It was perhaps the scariest event of my young writing career. I had sold the first one, written, polished, and published. And then the blank page confronted me! I knew anything I wrote would be utter crap. And it was by comparison to what I had just done because it was first-draft quality writing.

Well, I am here to tell you that a new series, even after 25 books, feels just the same way. I have an idea. I think it is good, funny, romantic, and exciting. I'm eager to start.

And I have no idea where to begin. As my friend and I observed to each other, we have enough experience now to have faith that it will work out. Just not how that is ever going to be possible. So, we return to our prospective blank pages and begin typing. "Call me Ishmael." (Wait, I think that one has been used already.)

And I have proof that it works, because two years ago this was just an idea. On May 6th, it will be out in the world!
Now if I could just figure out how to start this next one.

So go out there and begin it. Whether it is your first book or your hundredth, start now. What's your current project, writing or not, and what's stopping you from just starting it?

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  1. Hey ML! I'm sure you'll figure out how to start your next story. I just finished my second book in the Somerfield Park series. Since it's not due till June first, I have a little time to let it percolate before I go back through for a final sweep.

  2. I have to agree. It's always hard. I keep thinking it will get easier, but I'm struggling with a new project too. Hang in there!

  3. Since I wrote this post a few days ago, I got a good start...enough to know that I: a)totally underestimated my hero, b)still don't understand my heroine, and c)why aren't they together already? They are totally MFEO! Oh wait, that's because I Made them For Each Other. Hmmm. :)