Mark Terry

Friday, January 07, 2011

On Spec and the Big Bad Cloud Of Doubt

January 7, 2011
Although it's really only the first week of the year, at the moment I'm working on a lot of projects "on spec." For those few of you who aren't familiar with the term, it's for "on speculation" which means you write something and hope it finds a home. Almost all novelists have experienced this early on, and even published novelists occasionally write full novels on spec, and very often proposals on spec. It's work with the hope of payment.

Although I might be a little happier if I had a few more contracted gigs, I'm confident some work will be coming my way soon, and I'm looking for it, so I'll find it.

But at the moment I'm working on one novel without contract--the next Derek Stillwater, so it's likely to be picked up; an e-book version of Freelance Writing For A Living, which I will self-publish; another novel that I'm slowly working away on; an anthology of short stories that some of you are involved in and will be e-published in the next month or two; and more relevant to today's blog, a proposal for a nonfiction book.

I settled on a concept/subject and now I'm doing research for this. It's exciting. I like doing this. Throwing myself into research, looking for an organizational principle in all the data, a way to tell the story, a way to structure the story so I can describe it in the proposal. It's a lot of work and the subject matter is fairly ambitious. For the most part, I'm just focusing on it and keeping my enthusiasm and optimism up. It's just that occasionally, late at night, your brain will say, "What if this doesn't work? You're just wasting time!"

Oy!

I try to focus on the optimism part. This could be big. One way or the other, I'll learn a lot. If the book proposal doesn't get picked up, there might be some articles I can write out of the material I've researched.

How do you stay focused?

3 Comments:

Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

I don't like working on spec. In the past I had two much stuff end up useless and unused. And without a deadline or at least the knowledge that something will ultimately see publication I have a hard time staying focussed. No doubt I should do more on spec because it is hard to find new directions if you don't.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

Spec work totally freakin' sucks. I can't answer your question, because honestly, I have never successfully done it; I always latch on to the first promised money I see. I'm terrified of wasting my time, LOL, and "craft" and "learning" just aren't enough for me to take the risk. I mean, I'll learn just as much writing something I'm certain will be paid.

But I am still trying. My latest trick is to just lay a few bricks every day and stop worrying about getting the house finished. It's good to see the big picture at times, but sometimes it's detrimental for me.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Eric,
Well, that's the theory. But I'm also thinking of all the time I spent a year or two ago on an e-newsletter that I couldn't make work, so you do have to balance your time.

9:45 AM  

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