I get to create stories for a living. I get to daydream for a job. I also, fair enough, have to work extremely hard and cocoon myself in solitude until the book is finished, but that's beside the point. The point is, I get to be a writer, which is something so few people who ALSO want to be writers get to do.
I've just made the very last changes to LSODM I can possibly make. We're in the final type-setting stage now— that is when they take the words you've written in the manuscript and arrange them onto a book page, ready to be printed. And I now know how many pages there are going to be...
KOTW was 607 pages in the hardback version. LSODM, which is a little under 30,000 words longer, will be... ready for this?... it will be...
Now, wait a moment, before you scratch your heads and ask how does that work, it is quite simple. If they had continued to use the same font size as they used from the very start, my publishers would be releasing a book of, according to my vague and approximate mathematical skills, 900 pages. Which is a tad BIG.
So instead they've just reduced the size of the font, to squeeze more words in. Yay! You'll be able to lift up the book when you read it! Result!
Anyway, where was I?
Yes, now that I have approved the type-setting pages, and sent in the dedication and the author biography, I can now get back to the business of being a writer. Which is, y'know, to write... and stuff...
Coming up very soon, I have a non-Skulduggery short story to write, I have to start planning out Book Nine in greater detail (and actually get started on it), and I need to write a load of Skulduggery mini-adventures for the short story collection, in 2014.
But right NOW, my main focus is on another non-Skulduggery short story, for a collection that'll be coming out in the winter of next year. I've been thinking about this for a while now, trying to figure out what to write. It can be any genre, any style... My options are unlimited. But, see, that's where the problem lies.
Limitations are useful. If I'd been told that my story had to be, say, dystopian future sci fi, then I'd have nodded and gone off and written a great dystopian future sic fi story. But because it CAN be a dystopian future sci fi OR a modern day fantasy OR a comedy about a kettle shop OR a first person narrative about a boy who has lost his dog... I now have too many options. How can I settle on one idea if I might find a better one in a different genre?
Before I wrote Skulduggery Pleasant, I embarked upon a hundred half-finished and abandoned stories, books and scripts. Any of you who write will know what I'm talking about. We flit from story to story because we get bored or we get a better idea or this one we're writing now is just not working, or it's too hard, or it's not coming out like we wanted... We flit because our imaginations are running too wild. Our creativity will not settle down.
But of course it won't. It's imagination. It's creativity. Their whole purpose is to go crazy. Their whole purpose is to run wild. But we, as writers, need to get on our horses and gallop after them, lasso them, pull them back, slow them down and herd them into a pen (and this is where the metaphor gets extravagant, as this is both a livestock pen AND an author's pen). We don't want them tame, of course we don't. We want them rearing and kicking— but we want them to do it in that enclosure, within those boundaries and those limitations. That's the only way we'll be able to use that creativity to write a story.
So, that's what I'm doing now. I'm thinking about limitations, and boundaries, and genres. What do I WANT to write about? What style do I WANT to write in? What genre? Once I know all that I'll be able to think of a story and a character and sit down and write the damn thing.