What should I write next?

I had this dilemma recently.

I began a new book in a genre which had me intrigued – The Space Opera. I have character notes which include motivations, goals, conflicts and epiphanies. I have an interesting plot, and extended story lines from each character’s point of view.

Two characters from my planned Space Opera

Then we made a sudden trip north to see family as there was an important birthday celebration. The following month I got sick, literally for the whole month. So the momentum for this book was lost.

I’ve also been on the submission bandwagon.

While I have a US based LGBTQ publisher, I have a completed work which is not queer specific. There are several gay characters but the main storyline centres around a straight couple. I am pitching this to Australian publishers as I would love to have a major work released locally.

Jillian, from the contemporary work I’m submitting to publishers.

With this in mind, the momentum to continue the Space Opera further waned. Another contemporary piece has taken its place.

The story is about a developing friendship between a young gay guy and his older female neighbour. These aren’t new themes for me, but my writing gets better with each book. So I know as this work develops, I’ll naturally find ways to challenge myself in order to make the story fresh.

So, why is this better than a fantasy sci-fi piece?

It’s not just illness and a party invitation which made me lose momentum. Even while I worked on the Space Opera, some of my usual passion was missing. I’ve come to realise it’s because I’m thinking more like an author who means business.

If the heavens open and my contemporary submission is successful, the follow up has to be in a similar genre. It’s expected.

If the clouds darken and my contemporary submission is unsuccessful, than I have another similar themed work which fits the type of book most Australian publishers want. There have been forums about how speculative fiction is not big in Australia, and if you write fantasy, sci-fi etc, the market is better overseas.

Three more characters from the novel I’m currently submitting.

It’s risky as both novels may not get a local publisher, but I’ll never know if I don’t try.

My first novel was released nearly ten years ago.

And while I’ve scored good reviews and several awards for many of my novels since, my earnings with a small publisher won’t buy me diamonds. Not even fake ones.

Some authors give up at this stage. I’ve been lucky because over recent years more people are reading my books. I have hope.

Now I need to move beyond my indie author status. As a friend told me decades ago, life stops when you no longer have dreams to aspire to.

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