The Next Book, Story, or Poem

Writers write. I know. But how do we know what to write next? I was recently asked this in an interview (not yet published) and I didn’t have a ready answer.

Do we choose what the market wants and what we could write to meet that market and still feel true to our art? Sometimes. Do we wait for a muse to dance on our shoulder? Rarely.

I write because I don’t know what it would be like to live without writing. It’s an elemental part of my existence. I have more ideas for stories, poems, and novels than I’ll ever be able to write. Not all of those ideas are viable in their current form, and some should probably never see daylight. The truth is, it’s a complex equation of what I think readers want, what I want to write, and what energy I have ready to devote to an idea.

All of that is wrapped in the parentheses of my plan for my career. What should follow nest that makes sense according to my author personae? What type of story will stretch my capabilities and challenge my level of craft, and can I pull it off?

Sometimes, it only comes down to a question of what energy do I have and which story or poem should I apply it? I think it was Damon Knight who said, next story, better story.

I’ve been doing this long enough to know I have to write something, anything. The biggest challenge for me is to get the first draft down. Revising is writing. That’s where I really see the story or poem. That’s when I know I have something or I don’t. So the first thing is to just write the story.

I’ve got two novels in the works, a multitude of stories in various states, and poem fragments scattered around the house and in my computer. I think the real question, is which will I complete next?


You can read these short stories and poems for free:

The Enduring Mage: a stand-alone short story

A Map from the End of the World: a short story prelude to the novel At the End of the World

Stitches: a poetry sampler