Lacking Focus

Sorry, still off in deep thoughts land, so posts will continue to be sporadic.  I spent a number of days thinking about how to treat writing as a business since I’m not treating my business as one.  Still a work in progress.

So, in the meantime.  Let’s chat about what to write and how that impacts success.

See, yesterday I finished the second draft of a non-fiction book.  Yep, that’s right.  Non-fiction.  It was incredibly easy to write.  I wrote 5,400 new words just yesterday.

Problem is, it doesn’t fit.

So, now I have one speculative fiction novel, one contemporary fiction novel, and one non-fiction book.  (Oh, and just a note–some agents hate people to use “fiction novel.”  They think it’s redundant.  I think I’m describing the genre and then the type of writing.)

Perhaps the contemporary fiction novel and the non-fiction book could go together.  Perhaps.

But, not really.  Similar voice, very different audiences.

My short stories are more consistently speculative fiction, but even there I sometimes drift into contemporary fiction.

From one perspective, that’s fine.  I’m finding my voice and figuring out what it interests me to write.

But from the professional, career perspective?  It’s not.  My “writer’s story” is looking more like a Picasso drawing than something coherent and identifiable.

The different types of writing don’t work together.  Rather than amplifying one another, they’re pulling in different directions.

Which is why, even though I’ve finished the second novel, I haven’t queried it yet.  And I don’t know if I’ll query the non-fiction book, either.

Because, what happens if I get an agent with one of those?

Talk about an awkward conversation with an agent.  “I love this book.  What’s your plan for the next one?”  “Well, I was thinking I’d write a novel in the social science fiction genre…”  “Huh?  You wrote a self-help book and now you want to write a science fiction novel?  I don’t rep that genre.”  “Yeah, I know…”

The books do have one thing in common.  Me.  And the way I approach the world.  But that’s just not enough.  It might be if  I were famous.  But I’m not.

My problem is, I’ve never fit into boxes well.  It’s how I ended up with three majors in undergrad.

That post I ended up deleting before posting a few weeks ago?  It was about how I was considering writing an  MG novel next.  So, three novels in three different categories?

Not good.

Oh.  And the sequel to that MG novel? Not going to be MG.

See the problem?

I am not going to make an agent or publisher happy.  Or a readership.

Not that some authors don’t pull it off.  There are plenty of authors that write in multiple genres either under one name or multiple pen names.  But they do it by keeping up with their obligations and I’m not that well-developed a writer yet.

I’m averaging 5,000 words a week so far this writing year, but I’d have to up that to kick out three novels and some short stories each year.  (And that’s far ahead what I averaged the first two years.)

This gets back to this whole professional career vs. writing issue.

If it’s a career I need to choose a direction and go there.  I need focus.

If it’s something I do for enjoyment and maybe occasionally make money off of, then it doesn’t matter.  So, I publish one speculative fiction short story and then one contemporary fiction short story.  Who cares?  I’m no one with no expectations on me.

Right now, I treat it as a hobby.  If I want it to be a career (like I tell myself I do), then I need to change that.

(Or do I?  The safe money bet is to slowly build on your prior success by working the odds.  Bet the six and eight.  The high payout, low probability bet is to try all three paths at once and see which one pops.  Bet on snake eyes or a pair of sixes.)

(I love bad analogies…)



About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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