I just got word the line edits on Against Gravity are on their way to me - the first chunk, anyway. Which means knuckle-down time, and probably some changes major and minor. AG was a very hard book for me to write, simply because I wrote it knowing I had a book deal. That put a ton of pressure on me, knowing I had to come up with something worth a substantial amount of money: I knew I had to deliver.

Second novels (and second albums, second art shows, second plays, etc) are notoriously difficult creatures. When you write a book without a deal, you write under less pressure, for obvious reasons. Writing under the UK system (in the US, I believe, people sell a book at a time, with little in the way way of multiple book deals, except for the trilogies/connected series) where you sign a single contract to write maybe two or three books for the same publisher, followed by a decision whether or not to ink a new contract depending on your sales figures, is a system designed to kill off whole slews of brain cells at short order.

I was intrigued to discover that David Mitchell, author of Cloud 9 and Ghostwritten, specifically avoids this problem by always writing each book without a contract, and only then approaching publishers with his manuscript. Curiously enough, the book I've just started doesn't feel quite so pressured. Partly because I won't allow myself to get that way again, and partly (I suspect) because it's being written subsequent to the specifically two-book contract I have with Pan/Tor UK. Partly maybe, also, because I've had generally speaking some excellent reviews, and these make me feel a little more confident.

But the news that really knocks me out is that I can expect the cover design for AG sometime in the next several days. This, I'm looking forward to, although there's a little trepidation in there, simply because it matters to you as an author exactly how you're going to find yourself represented by the artist assigned to your book. I'm lucky, however, in that the artist concerned is Steve Rawlings, whose work I rate very highly indeed. His stuff appears at once highly detailed and impressionistic, and the end result is what appears to the eye as several layers of imagery, some half-visible in a way that suggests more rather than less.

We'll just have to wait and see.

'Things Unseen' is currently standing at about five thousand words, an opening chapter that's almost completed. After that I'll probably go over it a dozen times or so, working it over, and adding detail where I can. Then I might show it to some people, see what they think, although it's hard to get an idea of where a writer is going from only one chapter. I don't as yet have a fully detailed outline, more a rough sketch of where I see the story going. I'd hoped I might be able to have a fully worked outline by now, but I've come to realise I'm one of those writers who just can't work that way. I have to, literally, make it all up as I go along, and so far it works. Titles: I was playing with some other ideas for titles. 'The Sight of Things Unseen', which is where the previous version is taken from, appeals, but sounds a bit too Lovecraftian for what I'm doing (although that might not be a bad thing either). I thought of Sacred Geometries, until I discovered it's a term with a more specific application to a certain type of occult study. Oh well.

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