When I first started socializing with other writers online, I heard a lot of talk about people working on multiple projects. Some people even had five or six going at a time, which was like, "Wow!"
I was very against the idea myself. To each their own, but for me I didn't think I would ever be able to get one project done if I kept swapping between projects. So even when other characters and ideas starting knocking on my door--and they did--I pushed them aside and kept my focus on New Year's Revolution.
I was very happy when it came time to switch gears and finally start working on City of Secrets (then Caribou Canyon), which I'd kept locked away for about two years (In retrospect I don't know how I managed). Again, I was very disciplined while working on it. By that time, Caleb of my yet unnamed NaNo novel (I'm really going to have to give this thing a name soon) had started yelling very loudly in my head. But I kept Caleb locked away until I finished (mostly) the first draft of CoS. I finished just barely in time for November too.
Suddenly, I found myself with three stories: a rough draft, a first draft, and an infinity draft that needed yet more work. I told myself I was going to pick one to work on until it was ready to be published and/or queried and then (and only then) was I going to pick up another one. So I began rewrite, let's call it 10, of New Year's Revolution. This went smoothly for about two months, when I realized that I was going to serialize CoS--and you all know the rest from here, if you don't, my previous posts explain the exciting growth of this idea. The point is, once City of Secrets began to take form on the page it couldn't be kept down for long.
So I now find myself on a break from NYR to get CoS launched online. Once CoS is up and running, so to speak, I'll return to working on NYR, while pausing to write the occasional CoS chapter to post weekly or bi-weekly.
I'm going to be perfectly honest: this idea frightens me. Other than the fact that they are both paranormal fantasies, these are two wildly different stories. One is first person adult, and the other is third person young adult. One has multiple view points and the other has one. One takes place in a real city, and the other takes place in an isolated fictional town. Once is about vampires, and the other is about ghosts.
One of my biggest--and perhaps irrational--fears is that I would mix things up. I'm not talking about the obvious things. Clearly, I'm going to know which story I'm working on, unless I'm really tired or really drunk, in which case I probably shouldn't even be writing in the first place. I'm afraid of mixing up the voices, having my teens sound too adult and vice versa, giving my ghosts vampire qualities, and that sort of thing. But the more I "voice" these fears, the more silly they sound, so I guess that's good. I'm just someone who worries a lot, (understatement) and I don't always have a lot of trust in myself. But I'm too excited about both stories not to move forward with each of them. So I'm just going to have to trust in my abilities.
Here's the good news: as I was reading through CoS I was noticing the similarities and differences between it and NYR. By working on both stories at once, I was able to see what I need to work on as far as narrative voice (and other things) is concerned. And I'm also starting to learn what voice actually means. I honestly think it's a pretty hard concept. When I first heard people talking about voice I just sort of nodded my head. Now, I get it.
Here's the better news: the similarities between the two stories disappeared the further I got into CoS. Thank goodness. So, now I've decided that working on multiple projects might actually be a good thing. It might help expand my mind and stretch my writing muscles.
Also, I've been getting ideas for the second draft of my unnamed NaNo novel (which is even more drastically different from both of these stories), and I already know there is no way I'm going to be able to wait until I finish NYR and CoS to write it, like I'd planned. I'm thinking of doing the 2nd draft during NaNo this year. I know that's technically against the rules, but screw the rules. NaNo is about writing, not following rules. Of course, since it's a second draft, I'll have to extend my NaNo, maybe start in October and end in mid-December. But these are just thoughts. I have no idea where I'll be at in the Fall, I just know that I'm very excited about Caleb's story and won't be able to wait much longer.
I guess the lesson I've learned is that once the characters have been let out of their cages, they don't want to go back in. So why make them?