I've gone reading through story ideas, fragments I started and abandoned ages ago, trying to figure out what I want to do next. The Operation Magic Carpet book has so consumed me for so long that now I feel like I've just come out of a box and am standing around blinking in the light, trying to make sense of what I see around me. I'm reaching inside and listening for the voices that used to be there whispering stories at me.
So far…they're staying mute. It has me a little worried.
For years, while I wrote the Triads of Tir na n'Og novels, other stories were clamoring inside to get my attention, crying to get out, hit the page, come to life. I got used to shutting them out, ignoring them, however reluctantly. I couldn't afford to get sidetracked. I was afraid if I did, I'd never finish what I was working on.
It takes me an average of two years, more or less, to write a book. It's not just that I'm a slow writer. Until recently I also had a day job and, on top of that, I perform in, write for, and help run a show troupe, a small business my husband started more than twenty years ago with a heavy performance schedule between May and October. That doesn't leave me a lot of writing time.
Nevertheless, every once in a while over the years, I'd try to set aside whatever Triad book I was on and write something else, just to keep things fresh, do something different. To prove to myself that I could write something else. After all, between one thing and another, it took almost fifteen years to write and publish the entire Triads of Tir na n'Og series. That's including a second, re-written edition of The Triads, which was traditionally published as Book One in its first edition. That's a very long time to stay with one set of characters and one story, however convoluted.
But trying to change horses in midstream almost never worked; I'd start a different book, get a few chapters in, and find I absolutely could not continue until I'd gone back and finished the current Triad book. And then that one would always dovetail into the next, and so on…. There were times when I thought I'd never reach the end; it was like serving time in my own personal purgatory.
Don't get me wrong: I'm proud of those books; they're damned fine reads, and they've done well for me. But writing them over so many years forced me to put aside nearly every other story that struggled to be born during that time. I had to silence every creative voice vying for my attention unless it was whispering to me about the characters and situations from the Triad books.
And then, when those were at last behind me, I turned all my writing attention to working on the Operation Magic Carpet book. Except for a couple of short stories, nothing else was even lurking in my peripheral vision, so to speak.
Well, now that's behind me too, and at last I can let all those stories that have been waiting all these years out to play. Except…where did they go?
Someone once said that every writer has only so many books in them. I've always scoffed at that. Now I'm really hoping it's not true. That silencing those voices all these years hasn't killed them. That they'll come out and whisper to me again.
I'll listen this time, kids. I promise.