As I have said before, I’m a pretty poor multi-tasker. I seems like every job I apply for these days (writing doesn’t pay all the bills) asks a variation on the question, “How do you handle multiple problems at the same time?” I’m never sure how to answer it, knowing what I know about myself. Best foot forward, and all of that. I guess you just say well and leave it at that, hoping you’ll never be confronted with a situation when everything starts coming apart at the seams.
So why am I talking about multi-tasking again? Because despite my lousy track record of performance in such a situation, I have undertaken two different chores to be carried out simultaneously. If I can pull this off without short-circuiting my brain, I will have accomplished a great deal. A real personal milestone, if you will.
I can never quit working on novels. That’s where my bread and butter is and where the bulk of my efforts must be directed. To that end, I just finished outlining a new project yesterday that will keep me busy for a couple of months, at least. It’s titled Grand Champ and has to do with dog fighting in my state. We have something of a dog fighting problem here, particularly in the black and latino communities, and I intend to lay it out there for people in sometimes brutal detail. It will be a challenging piece of work.
But I also have other ideas that encourage me to pursue something I haven’t in a long time: short stories. As I wrote last week, there’s a decent-sized market for western short stories and novellas in ebook format, and it may be that this is the perfect window for me to poke my head through and see what’s going on in there. If my initial steps fail, I’ll learn. If they succeed, I’ll learn and I’ll make a little money. I consider that a win-win.
Anyway, westerns seem to be the way I’m headed, largely because it’s an underserved market and also because I have material prepared that will fit perfectly into the niche I’ve discovered. That means less prep for me and the opportunity to write something fun and (somewhat) less serious. The key, as I’ve told you before, is getting into the western mindset. I pretty much write nothing but crime these days, and that’s been the case for the last couple of years, so I’m out of touch with what makes for a good western. That means reading must be done. To that end, I picked up a huge lot of action westerns from eBay that will keep me occupied for many months, if not a year or two.
Where does the multi-tasking come in? Well, basically I’ll be writing in one genre and researching in another simultaneously, and both require different approaches. I can’t write a crime novel in the style of a western — though I suppose it could conceivably be done — but I need to get a jump on western prep so I can segue into writing those stories just as soon as I’ve finished the dog fighting book. Fast, fast, fast, that’s how I like to work. I’ve just never tried to hold conflicting writing ideas in my head at the same time.
We’ll see how successful I’ll be.