So this week I started to write my next book – working title, Tales of the Ancient Rabbits, a sort of stand-alone prequel to The Chimney Rabbit, set in the same world, but in a different country and with a different set of main characters.
I had pondered whether my next project should have been to cut The Chimney Rabbit into two separate books, but I decided that if I thought a shorter book would be more likely to get published, I should write something specifically to that length rather than try to hack an existing book in two. I could have made it work, but… I think it’s better to be moving forward than looking backward. Tales of the Ancient Rabbits is planned to run to between 30,000 and 40,000 words, considerably shorter than the 70,000 of The Chimney Rabbit and 77,000 of The Chimney Rabbit and the Underground Mice.
I haven’t completely forgotten my first book, though. Last weekend I did send The Chimney Rabbit out to some more agencies – probably its final round of agencies before I put it away in a digital drawer and concentrate on future projects. They say it’s incredibly rare that your first book gets published, which is a shame, because I have a lot of belief in that book. If The Chimney Rabbit doesn’t find an agent or publisher, it also means that The Chimney Rabbit and the Underground Mice will never be published, either – which is also a shame. Especially since I think it’s a better book than my first one. Should I have written a sequel to an unpublished book? Maybe not. Maybe it didn’t make commercial sense – but it was a story I wanted to write, and when it comes down to it, I’m more interested in telling stories than anything else.
So, onto my next story. Typically, though, after several days of immersing myself in Tales of the Ancient Rabbits, I woke up this morning with an idea for a completely different story, with characters and setting and themes all fully-formed in my over-active brain. I’ve written down a bunch of notes (I use Evernote for notes – I like to use my Nexus 7 for note-taking, and it works really well on a tablet) so I’m ready to get started on it when I’ve completed my current project.
Apparently it happens quite a lot that someone will contact a writer and say “I’ve had a great idea for a story – why don’t you write it, and we can split the proceeds?” This always amuses me – coming up with ideas is the easy bit! The hard – and time-consuming – part is getting the words down on paper.
I could come up with ideas for books two or three times a week, but that doesn’t do me much good when it takes months to write a single novel.