It's funny. I've been talking to friends recently about how difficult my new project is, and so few of them believe it. When I say I'm having trouble getting started and that at times I don't know if what I'm writing now will coalesce into a book, they scoff (a little). They say, "oh c'mon" or (the more encouraging) "you'll have a draft by March." They look at my track record – eight books in print, another in production – and they don't believe that I doubt myself, or this project, as much as I do.
Maybe this would make sense if I had a multi-book contract and a set formula. The contract, after all, would provide both financial incentive and a deadline, two elements that kept me going in journalism for many years. A formula would, well, be easy. But right now I have neither. In particular, the book I'm trying to write is somewhat different from any I've written thus far. It's crime fiction, rather than a "whodunit" style mystery with a private detective. It's darker, more terse. Yes, there's a cat in it. Somehow, my single female characters always have a cat. But the cat is really quite incidental. And I am having trouble with it. Right now, as I finish up some editing work and look ahead to at least a few hours to write, I am very aware that this will be only the third consecutive day that I've been able to make myself work on this new project. Been able to make myself actually commit words to paper. I'm actually blogging now because I'm a little scared to start. I have a rough idea of the next scene – I have an idea of who will be in it, how they will come into conflict – and I'm excited. But I'm also a little nervous. Is this new style any good? Is this project going to be any good? Will it ever all come together as it has in the past, or have I somehow lost that?
In some ways, I find my friends' faith in me – even their refusal to believe in my very real turmoil - encouraging. Maybe I am too close. Maybe I will do it. But cut me a little slack, folks. Yes, I am the one who chose to work outside my comfort level, but that lack of comfort is real. This is scary stuff, to me.
And now... to work.