I tend to think of my writing projects as the Sith in the Star Wars Universe think about their training: only two, a master and an apprentice. As soon as one spot is opened up, it’s filled with another candidate, never more than one candidate in a slot—that is what’s like with my writing.
Generally, my writing slots can be broken down into: idea, writing, revision, proofing, and submitting. With the exception of submitting, I’m only ever writing, editing, proofing one piece at time. If things are busy, like trying to get pieces done for a contest or themed deadlines, often I’m writing and editing different pieces (writing story A while editing story B), but rarely ever writing two pieces at the same time (writing story A and B).
I had to change from “never” to “rarely ever” because that is in fact what I am doing right this moment. This time of year is always busy with the Writers of the Future and Jim Baen Memorial contests deadlines and two other projects that need to be finished up. So at the moment I’m juggling four, when usually that number is two.
The result, I noticed, from this, is that when I return to a piece in revision that I haven’t visited in a while, I can’t recall the intricacies of the piece. Now many writers seek this distance to help in revision, to let them read their own work with “reader eyes.” But for me, at this phase in development, the distance is hurting more than helping. For example, I have a novella I am currently trying to trim down on word count. The story was too large for me to hold in my head when I was writing it, and now when I come across a line I think I can cut, I get the nagging feeling that no, that line is important for something later in the story. But I can’t remember what, and worse: where. It takes me precious time to sort through it all making the whole experience quite a slog.
The experience of juggling four pieces has taught me the wisdom of the Sith-like approach. Hopefully, I’ll soon be back on Sith-like production: only writing one story at a time.