Even though I usually end up focused on one project at the time, it’s never the only one that is brewing in my head. I’ve mentioned before I usually have several projects going, in different stages of (de)composition, as this is my way of escaping the dreaded writer’s block. If one project feels tiresome or boring at the time, I can always jump into another one and get my writing momentum back.
It doesn’t mean though that I never finish anything. Sure, none of them is close to being publishable but with my high standards when it comes to quality, editing takes time. I also put some of my projects on the back burner: when I made a decision to switch from writing in Polish to writing in English, I had a whole lot to discover and learn. My first book in English is a great story that I still love, but fixing those clunky sentences and plain style would take me time in which I could edit five other novels. I admit, I’d love to go back to it at some point, and maybe write it once again from scratch but when I’ve finished it, it was easier to work on something new than try to make a dreadful word swamp into a lush meadow.
Some other projects need to wait for their turn or I’m not satisfied with how solid the plots are, so I’m letting them brew in my head, and only take occasional notes. Some other I wrote for pure fun and they weren’t even supposed to be projects to begin with.
That means that at the moment I’m wrapped up in quite a few works-in-progress, and some more is being fleshed out in my head. And even though I know it’s going to take long time for me to get them all to a level I find satisfactory, that thought doesn’t really scare me. Quite the opposite. I make a list of them whenever I feel burnt out or the negative thoughts get better of me. I tell myself: “How can I not be creative if I came up with that many stories already? New ideas will come eventually, and until then I have plenty to work on.”
Inspired by Princess of Dragons post on her projects and by my own need to sort out all my main projects, I thought it would be fun to list them all here. So, here they are, my writing projects in more or less chronological order (images courtesy of Pixabay).
“Shards of the World”
I think the first time I came up with the idea was in my twenties (so at least ten or twelve years ago). I was on a tram and I thought “the world has fallen apart, but we’ll put it back together” and there it was: a shiny idea for a postapocalyptic fantasy in which mages can destroy or create worlds, and they use it in their intrigues. Very quickly I understood that the idea was too big for me at the time: I felt I hadn’t lived long enough and experienced enough to give the story justice. I also knew I had to write it, so that I never forget it.
I wrote it, from the first sentence to the last… I wrote it two times already, and I’m still not satisfied. I’m slowly getting ready to try once more (this time in English, for a change), but at the moment this project is still on a back burner, slowly brewing in the pot of my head.
Status: Multiple versions and detailed outlines.
“The Witch’s Game”
The first novel I wrote in English (and the third novel total), mostly to prove myself I could. I still like the story of a group of unlikely heroes saving their land from a monster invasion, but sadly, it’s a chronicle of my learning to write in a second language. English gets better as the story progresses, but to work on this novel would mean to really write it from scratch, and I’m not sure it’s worth the effort.
I still feel sentimental about it, though.
Status: First draft, abandoned at the time being.
“The Wayward Witch”
My second English-written novel and a beginning of 4-5 book series. It features one timid alchemist who by accident (and with the use of her long-neglected psykaotic power) summons a familiar and discovers a sinister plot in her city.
This is part of the world that my partner—Inq develops, and although I like the story it starts on quite personal level for the main character, so it misses the larger scope of things at play, and therefore all the flavor of the worldbuilding.
Also, since the world is in constant development (please blame over-creative Inq for that!), I feel hesitant about working on the novel if many of the aspects of the world or its workings might be altered in the future. So, even though I like the story and the world, I’m waiting for Inq to be done with alterations and solidify his ideas before I go back to it. Which, to be honest, might never happen.
I also feel that at the moment the first book gives the wrong impression about series (multiple plots with epic scope) as it focuses on more private problems of the main character with the “important world-changing events” happening only in the background and seemingly not important to the book one’s plot.
Status: First draft.
“By the Pact” (previously titled “By His Will”)
This novel started with me thinking “I want to write some epic fantasy”, and brewed in my head for nearly a year before I started writing. It steered towards dark fantasy, but the main duo of characters and their personalities made me quickly realize that it’s going to be more of an adventure fantasy, though with some epic scope to it.
The story starts when arcanist Kamira explores old ruins and finds a demon imprisoned there. A demon who supposedly had been destroyed centuries earlier in an event that had wiped out half of the continent. The said demon makes an offer Kamira can’t turn down: either she finds a way to free him from his prison or he’ll use her own magic to wipe out the rest of the continent. If that wasn’t enough, high mages who have long-opposed the arcanists have their own interest in the demon, and from across the sea refugees pour in, fleeing from a demon-infested kingdom.
This is the book I’ve worked on a lot, and I’ve already got beta-readers feedback on it. I hope that by the end of the year I’ll finally announce it’s “done” (for better or worse).
Status: In 4th (or so) revision.
A sci-fi, for a change (yes, I write those too!). The novel is set on a planet where a deadly indigenous virus causes people to live in the security domed colonies, and only few venture outside. Ressia has lived in the vast jungles for years, but an unfortunate event forces her to go back to Colony Three which used to be her home. She not only has to confront the past she thought to have left behind, but also uncover the conspiracy that might be the end of all the colonies on the planet.
The inspiration for this story came from a song, and even though I have a general idea of the plot and all the events, there are still many things to flesh out, and since I have so many other projects going, at the moment I just let the ideas brew.
Status: General outline plus several scenes written down.
“The Spirit’s Anchor”
Just like the previous project, it needs some fleshing out, so I’m not diving into it just yet. I need to bring some other works-in-progress to completion first.
Status: Some ideas and some scenes written.
“The Healer’s Apprentice” (working title)
Last year, when I was working on “By the Pact”, I wanted something light to write, more for pleasure than anything else. Therefore I wrote a fantasy romance in which a humble apprentice to the castle’s healer gets involved with an influential spoiled nobleman… who turns out to be someone else than everyone thinks.
To my surprise, even though the story revolves around the two main characters, I feel that I did quite a good job with the plot and some of the scenes, so I’m playing with the idea of turning this lengthy novella (about 50,000 words) into a fully fleshed novel. But, again, there are other projects to finish first.
Status: Complete story, half a draft.
“Alien Mine” (working title)
Another romance I wrote for fun. This time set in a sci-fi world where humans wage a long and exhausting war with another species. Moira finds herself stranded on a desolate planet… along with one of the enemies. They struggle to survive and to trust each other but as time passes, their friendship grows and then evolves into something more. But once they leave the planet, they’ll have to dive head first into deception and intrigues if they want to be together again.
If I was to sum up this novel in one sentence, I’d say it’s “Enemy Mine meets romance”, and I had a lot of fun writing it, although it’s not entirely focused on the romance but is also about learning to accept the differences between the species and overcoming the hatred toward the enemy.
It’s one of those novels that fights for my attention, and I might be working on it next.
Status: First draft.
The only urban fantasy on my list. I like to think of Humanborn as a child of my nostalgia for Ireland. I came up with the idea of Dublin destroyed by a magical cataclysm, and then torn by years-long war a long time ago, but it meant to be a funny short story. Instead, as my departure from the Emerald Island became imminent, the idea tugged on my mind and demanded to grow.
I wrote Humanborn within months, and it tells a story of a Polish immigrant Kaja (I couldn’t resist making the main character Polish), a survivor of the war between humans and magical creatures who arrived from another world. She hopes the fragile peace will last, but instead, a series of terrorist attacks threatens to push Ireland back into war… unless Kaja finds the ones responsible. Unexpectedly, she finds herself working alongside the former enemies, and has to balance between her loyalty to humans and gaining trust of her new companions.
As you might guess, this is the second novel that waits for me to finish working on By the Pact.
Status: Short-ish first draft.
So these are my all “big” projects, the ones of a novel size. If I was to mention all my short stories and short story ideas (also, a few short stories that might become novels in the future), this lengthy post would stretch even more.
How about your list? How many projects you work on at the time? How many more is trying to take over your thoughts?
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.