Refilling My Brain

My brain is empty.

This is a problem, and I mean not for the usual reasons, like, “how do you dress yourself in the morning?” No, the problem is that I have to write more books, but my brain is empty so I can’t right now.

I am, or I have been working on various things here and there. For instance, I have about 1/3 of a sequel to Fixer written, and I expect to finish that someday. I also have about 1/10th of a ridiculous idea—let’s call it M Pallasthat’s both stupidly ambitious and may not be something I’m capable of finishing, or at least not soon. But the work on Fixer happened over a year ago, and M Pallas is a finish-1000-words-tuesday-delete-half-of-them-wednesday kind of project right now, and I am not a patient man.

The reason it’s a problem is that I’d like to put out 1 or 2 new novels a year, and I think you’ll all be very sad if I don’t do that. My bank account will also be sad, which you may not care about, but to which I attach great importance.

One or two new novels per year is somewhere between perfect and too-many-books for traditionally published authors, but as you know I’m not one of them any longer. For an indie/self-published author? It’s a little low.

This is the challenge we all face: how to keep up with the demands of the marketplace without also writing a shitty book.

Maybe a better way of phrasing that is, how to get the marketplace to work for you while writing books at the right pace for your writing speed, which is kind of a sexy thesis—if you happen to be a writer—that I’m entirely incapable of addressing.

(Aside: I’m a unicorn. My marketing plan consists of luck and the good graces of BookBub, and I couldn’t begin to explain why it’s all succeeding.)

I don’t know how to translate what I know to any kind of universal truth when discussing marketing, but I know a little bit about writing, so when I say the right pace for your writing speed what I’m trying to emphasize is, A: everyone has a pace that is their own, and B: finding that pace and accepting it takes time but is important, and C: exceeding that pace to get a book to market quickly is a bad idea.

Note that I’m not equating being a fast writer with being a bad writer. I’m saying if you’re a slow writer and you are pushing yourself to be faster, it may not be a super idea.

But I mean, there are limits. Twelve years might be kinda long. You could probably top that. Mine is 1-2 a year, and as long as I have to refill my brain regularly, it’s not going to get any better.

If we can please pretend for a moment that my brain is a closet of random factoids and ideas, all stored for future use in a creative endeavor, then writing a novel is like raiding that closet. It doesn’t matter at all if the things in there really even make sense together. The town of Sorrow Falls was in that closet—top shelf, in the back, behind a method for using pure sodium and a toilet seat to murder someone, and a ghost story involving cell phones—for over twenty years, until I dusted it off and landed a space ship in it.

Sometimes, that closet gets so threadbare I have to actively search for things to stuff back in it so I can write something new. That fifth Immortal book I promised everyone, for instance. Or the incredibly daunting prospect of a sequel to The Spaceship Next Door.

My history shelf is empty, and my science shelf is bare. Until I can find new things to put there, Adam the immortal man and Annie Collins will both have to wait. Hopefully, not for too long.

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  1. Sue on January 16, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    When I finished this very personal reflection of yours I just wanted to let you know that your readers appreciate all of the creative work you have put out there for us over the years. We know that your kind of originality doesn’t come without great effort…because, well, your readers are probably all very cool people, right?

    As a long time teacher of Science, Art & Gifted education I can share that I’ve frequently heard similar thoughts in my most passionate students (& fellow educators too!) over the years… if you take heart & keep your intrinsic motivation for things you love, it will all feed back into your “closet” and be ready for you when you’re ready.

    • Gene Doucette on January 16, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      Thanks Sue!

      I love my readers.

  2. Harry Arendt on January 19, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Are you looking for new ideas for things to write about ( free of course)? I have read many scifi books and have a few ideas but I will never be a writer.

    • Gene Doucette on January 19, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      thanks for the offer! but no, ideas in and of themselves aren’t the issue, the issue is fuel to get the ideas from the beginning of the book to the end.

  3. Denise on March 25, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    I just started “The Spaceship” and love its premise, style and promise of a great read. If you now have the concept of a sequel, then I’m guessing it is already written in the stars and waiting for your timely download. Regarding your blog dilemma. In the short term, an “empty” brain might be exciting for a writer because it implies plenty of room to be filled (or downloaded) with grand and inspired ideas. Great Inspiration and creativity may come from one primordial source that is accessed by everyone according to their respective receptivity and attunement. Fuel to flame the creative process can come from within. Try feeding the flames with introspective pursuits such as yoga, exercise and meditation or your favorite versions of these. Get good sleep! Dream often! Have fun! The mind-body-spirit concept has merit. Just some ideas. Good luck! By now, this may already be a non-issue. Regardless, I am rooting for you and looking forward to that incredibly daunting sequel.

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