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.