A writer must write. Once you stop writing new stuff, you become a former writer. I don’t think there’s an official number of days or months without writing after which you lose your writer’s license, but six months to a year might be it.
I published my most recent book in May 2022. Since then, the only original material I’ve written has been blog posts and book reviews. My posts are short and my reviews are informal. I don’t think of them as “real writing.” Novels, short stories, poetry, and polished essays on specific subjects—those are the real thing.
If I don’t want to stop calling myself a writer, I’d better start writing something new. Soon.
For more than twenty years, my writing efforts were directed to the four novels I call the Herbert West Series and the two that succeeded it, She Who Comes Forth and She Who Returns. There is also a collection of short fiction I published in 2020, but seven of its fourteen stories are spinoffs from the series. I lived in the world of those novels for more than two decades.
It’s time to write something different. Vague ideas have been fermenting in the bottom of the old writing vat for years. When something specific bobbed to the top, I would make a note in the Writing Ideas notebook. (That’s if the notebook and a pen were on hand at the time, or if I managed to remember the great idea long enough to write it down. If only one could find the place where all the lost great ideas end up!)
This is my Writing Ideas notebook. I have recently combed through it, looking for anything that doesn’t relate to stuff I’ve already written and published. I now have a list of story ideas, plot outlines, and half-baked thoughts to work with.
The preceding was a circuitous way to get around to this declaration: During 2023, I will write a number (as yet undetermined) of stories or other works based on those notes.
I will report progress on this project in July 2023. The idea is that once written, some of these pieces will coalesce into something bigger. Not a novel, exactly, but something held together by themes that persist in haunting me. Even if that doesn’t happen, I will at least have a number of original pieces and maintained my Writer’s Cred.
Fellow writers, what do you do when you don’t have a work in progress? Do you worry that you’re no longer a real writer if you’re not working on something substantial?
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