Okay, I think I'm over the panic. I think the book - Against Gravity, that is - might actually be just about finished. Or as finished as I can get it before the editor gets his hands on it, anyway. I'm rediscovering that special kind of despair you get this close to finishing when you realise you can't ever, not ever, fix everything you know needs to be fixed, if only you can find it.
I read a piece on Cory Doctorow's Boing Boing the other day that he's just finished the first draft of his third book which is as long as his two previous books put together. Well, colour me flabbergasted when I found out Eastern Standard Tribe and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom clock in at barely 70k each, if even that. How come I don't get to write books that short, huh? I'm lucky if I scrape in under 125k with anything.
Of course, lots of books came in at about 65k - 90k in the days before word processors. Now they're all gigantic, or at least it feels that way. I got word back from my agent a few days ago about several vague (very vague, really) ideas for future books I'd sent to her. I like two of them in particular, but she only really mentioned one of them. So ... if I can find it in me to write a book at less than, say, 80k, maybe I can write two of them! And ...
Nah. It'd just end up huge and epic, like all the other stuff. But there is a serious point here - you dont' get paid by the word, you get paid by the book. And that depends on the quality/saleability of the book. At the moment I'm clocking one book a year, more or less - while holding down a part-time job I don't take any holidays from. I don't see how I could possibly write two books a year of a length equal to the ones I've already sold under my current circumstances.
But, even though it's a nice idea, I know I don't really want to do that. I like the longer (and frankly more typical) book length because it allows so much more involvement with the story. And I need the space to extrapolate.
So what are the two ideas I'm thinking about going for? One is a space opera-ish coming-of-age story, the other is more .. fun, I guess, in the 'knockabout romp' sense of fun. We'll see. When it gets to the point where I'm waiting for the inevitable edits/comments to come back on Against Gravity, I can relax a little and start working out new stories in my head.