Monday, May 29, 2006

Spinning Plates - The New Frontier

I've always been a plate spinner. To have my arms and legs extended, sticks vibrating, wobbley china rotating, makes me feel as if I've accomplished something. I'm speaking of metaphorical plates, of course. The right hand working on a sci-fi/futuristic thriller, my left a high fantasy, while the right foot delves into a chick-litish treasure hunt story, and then there is my vampire story hanging out somewhere around the top of my head. And still, I pile more plates on top of plates. Last night I added a sequel to my my novel Immorati into the mix, just to keep things interesting.

Yes, I've always been a plate spinner. More so now that I'm under contract by two publishers and looking to add to my collection. Right now I have about five novels and two novellas I'm working on and that's roughs only. I haven't even gotten to the edits yet. So when people ask me how can I work on so many different things at once without getting confused, I answer, "Simple, the stories are all completely different."

I think it's possible, even theraputic, to work on more than one manuscript at a time. If I get stuck on one, I move to another and work on it for a while. It's a beautiful thing. Chaotic, but beautiful. However, there is a downside to this practice—those poor characters and plots that languish in Never-Never Land while I move among two or three current favorites. But I do get back to them eventually. And sometimes that problem I had that made me set it aside originally is magically removed and all things fall into place.

Keep a full arsenal of stories and you'll never want for having something to pitch at a conference. I once had an appointment for an editor and had prepared to pitch a fantasy novel. However, when I arrived at the conference, I discovered the editor only wanted paranormal. (Information that was not provided before registering for the appointment) Not a problem, I pitched a paranormal I had waiting in the wings and received a request for a full. Though the editor ultimately passed on the project, I still had the experience of pitching (it was my first time), and felt validated in my practice of plate spinning.

Since landing my first sale back in September, I have discovered that I'm addicted to the thrilling rush of receiving 'the Call.' This has only increased my production of new, unfinished material and made my 'to be written' pile grow exponentially. I think I may have a problem.

Do I spin plates? You betcha. How many of you out there do the same?


Skylar Masey said...

I'm also a plate spinner of sorts, though obviously not a master like you. Because my voices differ in the multiple genres I write, I don't like to take the chance of writing more than one ms at a time. Though I often write scenes to refer back to later. And of course, when I can't make the characters stop their begging to be heard, I start doing research to make their story come to life.

BTW, the same thing happened to me at my first pitch! I was all geared up to pitch the futuristic I just sold to Triskelion, when I found out the editor had specified only contemporary and nothing related to FF&P. I switched gears and went with another WIP I had sitting in the pile to ship around:0) I was so glad I had something to fall back on! I told her up front that I'd been ready to pitch my futuristic because it was a PYHIAB finalist that year, but was prepared with something else. When I finished, she asked for that project, plus synopses for all my paras:0) Since then I've had several agents do the same via pitches.

Lynda K. Scott said...

I think spinning plates is a valuable gift for writers though I admit I've lost the ability to do that when I'm writing novels. Back when I wrote short fiction, I'd often have two--three or more stories in various stages of production. I just don't seem able to do that anymore which is a terrible loss.

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

Plate spinning! There's a name for my affliction! I'm always working on more than one thing at a time, but I'm trying to cut down so I can concentrate better. I don't know if it will work. Too many stories haunt me at once.