Chapter Seventeen - Unpublished Work24 August 2010
A shorter, more upbeat chapter to follow my previous tirade! I know young writers are often disappointed when their stories aren’t as good as the stories of writers they admire. But you shouldn’t be dismayed if you don’t hit the heights of your heroes early on—when they were younger, they almost certainly couldn’t hit those heights either!! Failures are every bit as important as your successess, and I have plenty of failures in my back catalogue, each one of which is just as important as any of the books I have managed to get published!!
I often get asked how many books in total I have written. To be honest, I lost track several years ago, and though I kept meaning to do a quick tally, I kept forgetting. In 2009, in Bantry, I was asked the question again, and this time I recalled it when I got home. So I flicked back through my records and added up all of the books that I have “finished”—I put “finished” in quotation marks, because this figure includes books which are still at the first draft stage, or at an early editing stage. i.e. It’s a list of every book that I have completed at least a first draft of. But a first draft is only a starting point for a novel—a complete first draft isn’t the same as a complete, fully edited book!! But, for the record, the number of books which I’ve done at least a first draft of currently (mid-2009) stands at… 53!!! That includes the 22 books of The Saga and The Demonata, Koyasan, my 3 D B Shan City books, the one-off fantasy book coming out next year in the UK, and the 4 book series—i.e. 31 books which have been or are soon to be published.
What of the other 22, I hear you cry! Well, 3 of those are part of a new, multi-book series which I’m working on, which will hopefully be my follow-up to the 4 book series—so if that works out, that leaves 19 books. I’m hopeful of publishing 2 of those in the near future as adult books, and there are another couple which I plan to release at some point as D B Shan. As for the other 15? Well, there are some I’m still hopeful of bringing out at some point or other, but which currently aren’t on the agenda. And I might cannibalize a few others in the future, i.e. take ideas from them and incorporate them into other novels. And there are probably a few which will never see the light of day in any kind of format—they exist now purely as technical exercises, stories which helped me find my way and develop as a writer. The thing is, you never know as a young writer where an idea is going to lead, or what you might end up doing with it further down the line. That’s why I think it’s important to write as much as you can when you’re starting out, even if it doesn’t seem worth the effort at the time. No completed first draft is EVER a waste—at the very least, you will learn a lot about the writing process. But also, when you complete a first draft of a story, you can carry it forward with you, to return to whenever you wish. I’ve built up a nice list of unpublished titles, and that’s a comfort—I know, should the ideas ever dry up in the future, that I can go back and work on an old book if necessary. Or if an old idea calls to me again after lying dormant for many years, I can return to it and pick up where I left off. A completed first draft is like a bank account—it’s money in the bank, money you might be damn glad of one day, even if it doesn’t seem like very much at the time. Everyone knows that it’s a good idea to save some money to put aside against a rainy day. Well, it’s the same with stories and books. In my experience, your brain is at its most imaginative and fruitful in your late teens and 20s, so if you can put it to work at that age and commit lots of ideas to paper, you might well end up reaping the benefits later on in life. Good writing, I think, is about marrying the imagination of youth with the experience that comes as you get older—but that’s made a hell of a lot easier if you committed your ideas to paper as a youth, rather than just thought a lot about them!!!! The moral being, as I’ve said here many times before—if you want to be a writer, don’t spend too much time thinking about it—WRITE!