The Little Black Book


I carry around a little black notebook. Most of us do, in some fashion or another. Mine is a Moleskine daily journal from 2007, when I had the idea of writing a full page every day and filling the notebook in a year. It’s taken me five years, and I’m down to the last few pages. In the front, I set aside a page for a table of contents, marking the start and end date of every project. It starts with The Potemkin Mosaic and ends with Earth Thirst. 2007 was also the year of my first professional short story sale (“How the Mermaid Lost Her Song” at Strange Horizons), which makes this little black book the record of my first five years of writing professionally.

There are eleven projects listed (one is still under wraps); five have been published (Potemkin, two CODEX books, two Foreworld books, and Earth Thirst); two—Instrument and Rabbit’s Foot—are novels in the universe that I have several short stories in; and the rest are isolated projects that are still in the germinative state.

Notice that the start date for Angel Tongue is a month before I finished Heartland. I’m just pointing that out to keep the nay-sayers at bay.

Which puts me at just under fifty percent, which I find to be a pretty good percentage. Of course, things don’t get put on the front page of the book until they’re far enough along to warrant keeping notes. And the list doesn’t really reflect that I did a lot of ruminating in the early years (through 2009), and in the last few, I’ve been spending more time writing than wool-gathering. Nor does this list reflect the five novellas that were written in the back half of 2012 (all of which will be out by this coming February). All in all, I wrote nearly 200,000 words last year and did editorial rewriting on another half million.

I started another writing notebook this week. It has three projects with start dates of January 1st. BLOOD HARVEST, HERE BE MONSTERS, and ANGEL TONGUE. I used to be an intensive planner, but looking back on the full writer’s notebook, I have to admit that very little of that was on my five year plan. My goal in the next year is to write one of those three books listed above. Maybe we should do a pool. Long odds on ANGEL TONGUE, of course.

[This post originally appeared at The Night Bazaar on January 4th, 2013.]