I'm a bit of a multitasking freak. I find it hard to sit still. Idle hands and all that. I work while I eat, I read while I bathe, I knit while I watch TV. I usually have 2 or 3 books half-read around the house at any one time. I have 2 novels to edit, 3 more and a screenplay to write, and no less than 40 short stories and flashes written, subbed or in need of editing.
I had a sudden urge to look at my first novel again this weekend - a sort of sick curiosity to remind me why I'd shelved it, and how much better my second was. I was actually pleasantly surprised. It still needs an apocalyptic razing to the ground and a gentle rebuild (which isn't going to happen unless I get paid serious amounts of money to do so by some bizarre, sadistic benefactor), but you know, it ain't half bad. It led me to browse through the hundreds of unfinished stories I have in my documents folder - some worth persevering with, some good for a self-loathing laugh, some to be dissected and cherry-picked for other projects. I felt guilty for ignoring the novel editing, but it was good to be looking at some different words for a change...
I know: attack of the ooh-look-at-the-shiny-thing syndrome. I would LOVE to be writing the screenplay right now. Or rather, completing the frankly insane and fascinating research I need to do before I start writing. I would LOVE to be starting the new novel, getting that whooshing seratonin rush in the early fuck-like-rabbits stage of the author-book relationship. I would LOVE to be working on the other two books I have simmering on the back hob of my mind - genre novels, a whole other world from the 'literary' fiction I'm writing now. No vampires, werewolves or zombies - just good old fashioned sci fi and fantasy - because holy mother of Asimov, it's damn fun to write.
It's not that I think having several projects isn't a good idea - I tend to leave my shorts and flashes as fodder for my edited-out brain, when I really need a break and some fresh ink - it's just that I know I have a tendency to jump on the next shiny thing and am trying to be VERY cautious when I feel that itch a'coming. I am ITCHY. I have been staring at this novel for nearly 3 years now. (Though, the first took me 6, so I suppose I've halved my writing time and doubled my productivity, right?!) I'm still invested, I'm still passionate, it's just really frickin' hard at the moment.
Right now, I'm on page 90 of 271 - thoroughly stuck re-writing a pretty pivotal scene. It's almost like I just want to stop doing nasty things to my protagonist. He's been through a lot and he's about to go through worse. "I'm really, really sorry, dude, but it's my job." Actually, since I haven't sold this book yet, what I'm doing is for pleasure. I'm hurting this man of my own volition. I am a sick little puppy, aren't I?
Here's where someone steps in and reminds me about the imaginary nature of fiction, please.
While trying to convince my lazy self I need a break from this, need to top up my sanity levels slightly, I know deep down in my procrastinating soul that what I REALLY need to do is keep going - to stop glancing furtively at those other projects, staple myself to the chair and set up some sort of caffeine IV. Oh, and write. And edit. And make it good.
What I want to know from you is: Do you work on several projects simultaneously? How do you keep your focus? And where can I get shiny-thing blinkers?