Since 2006, about 75% or more of my writing time and energy has been spent on work-for-hire projects in a shared world. While I do regret that I don’t have as much of my “own” stuff built up to give my agent (I really don’t have anything other than what she has polished enough to send out, so I’m scrambling these days, working on both a sequel and tossing around a new story idea I’ve been considering for a while), I don’t regret taking on work for hire at all. Writing these projects is interesting, because, rather than just sitting myself down at a computer and starting to write a story and researching things as they come up (in my current WIP, I’ve had to make notes about researching the layout of lands surrounding abbeys, what root vegetables grew in medieval England, and whether or not church services were conducted in languages other than Latin for the common folk), I instead start with something that someone else has written. Sometimes it’s a detailed book summary from which I need to write sample chapters. Other times it’s looking through maps, timelines, and, best of all, books.
I often describe my first book, Bronze Dragon Codex, as being able to write fanfic and be paid for it. I’ve never quite seen the point of fanfic, why write something that you didn’t own rights to and get published? But when the opportunity to write a book for childhood favorite series came up, it was SO much fun to look through my old books and atlases and read the new books and invent a story in that world.
I have that chance again, perhaps. I’m still deciding if I want to do something I found out about recently. I don’t know if I should take time out from my “own” work to chase after something that, in the end, won’t be mine. But as I print out information and dig old books out of my library, I feel that thrill again, the same thrill I had when I first began researching for Bronze Dragon Codex. Time will tell if the thrill stays enough for me to write something for this possible new project.
Maybe this is the wrong place to drop you a line, but it seemed appropriate. I saw your goals posted on Marcie’s blog and had to read more. It was so refreshing to see I am not the only one who struggles with the dichotomy that is fandom. I knew if I read more, I would find some answers for my own writing roadblocks. And I have.
As an illustrator who now tries to write for a living, I think I understand a little of the uncertainty you feel whether to work on other people’s dreams or your own. However, you should know your for-hire work is amazing and you have nothing to be ashamed of. You are spending your writing time legitimately. You are inspiring.
And incidentally I can guess the contest you mentioned is for the Dark Crystal. I read about the search for an author and was almost tempted to try it myself though I don’t write for that age at all, because how unbelievable would it be to be that writer? It seems entirely possible you will be chosen. That would be amazing. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
Anyway, best to you in your 2014 goals and your office too apparently. 🙂
Hey, thanks for writing! I’m glad to hear that. It really is a lot of fun to do work-for-hire; the time I spent on “Young Wizards Handbook” was by FAR the most fun I ever had working on a book. So I’d never discourage anyone from pursuing it. It’s just important to strike a balance.
Yes, that would be it! They’ll be announcing finalists March 1. Fingers crossed! 🙂
Good luck with your own work!