Huh. I might be on to something there.
Seriously, I'm getting on to where I'm going to have to decide what I want to be when I grow up, writerwise.
I am under contract to three publishers right now (Tor, Bantam Spectra, and Ace.) When Hell & Earth is revised and turned in (still waiting for the edit letter), I will be out of contract to Ace, but I have a fifth Promethean Age novel finished in draft (One-Eyed Jack & The Suicide King: You all have seen part of it up at Subterranean, in fact), and if they buy that I also have about fifty pages of PA number six (Patience & Fortitude) done. I have two more space operas to write for Spectra, (Chill and Grail, Jacob's Ladder #2 and #3), and I have two more books to deliver to Tor (Edda of Burdens #2 and #3, aka By the Mountain Bound and The Sea thy Mistress. #2 is done in draft, heavily revised, and will need revision to editorial specifications, no doubt. #3 is done in draft, and needs to be thrown out, body and soul, and redone from scratch.)
That evens out to two novels a year for the next two years--Chill and The Sea thy Mistress next year, and Grail and Patience & Fortitude in 2009.
And then I am out of contract with everyone simultaneously, come the end of 2009. And then I need to decide who I want to be when I grow up.
(Then there's the Secrit Projekt, which has already generated one Incidental Novel, but since there are four of us working that, and the possibility of eventually bringing in more people, that's not a major time sink. And oh, god, SO MUCH FUN. It's like getting paid to write fanfic. Or it will be, anyway, once we figure out how to get paid. *g*)
(And then there's short fiction projects, but short fiction projects fit into the spaces between novels.)
Two novels a year is well within my abilities. Two good novels a year is even within my abilities. (Some writers work better with room to roam; some work better under pressure. I appear to be a Type B, within reasonable limits. Undertow was too much pressure; I made myself very sick hitting deadline on that book. And Incidental Novels do not count.)
Also, you know, it was really nice to get my stockpile into print, but there is a limit to how long the market will bear five ebear books in a year. Even if I am writing them in radically different subgenres. (Fortunately, it does not appear that 2007 was the year the bubble burst. Still, let's not do the Tommy Lee Jones thing and wear our our welcome, eh?)
I would eventually like to get to the point where I am writing a novel every nine months, which would be, like, sheerest luxury. That's a financial question, though--can I live on a book and a half a year?
Depends on foreign rights sales, really.
But the upshot of that is that I am going to have to figure out what I want to write, because at a book every nine months, I will no longer be able to write all the books I want to write. (The real secret to my productivity is that I fall in love with several projects at once, and want to do them all. I have a list of books I want to write that is currently, er--looks--20 items long, and includes several things that might never happen, like the book about Min-xue.)
So I could keep three subgenres going, if each one has a book out every twenty-four months rather than every year. Or I can pick two things to pursue, and work on the third in a piecemeal fashion. Or one of my publishers might drop me, which would solve the problem all by itself.
(I should note, as of 2010, both The Edda of Burdens and Jacob's Ladder will be finished as trilogies. Edda has open-ended potential. Ladder, er. Does not. Promethean Age is designed open-ended. And then there's the question of the Iskryne, which has a potential for two more books, but truepenny and I have decided that we're not writing those unless they're fun, and so those fall under Incidental Novels, since we're not under contract to Tor for a second one.)
This is gonna require some thinky. Maybe I wanna be a fantasy writer when I grow up? I dunno. It's possible.... I think Whiskey & Water is my best book so far, and Carnival is the runner-up. But Carnival is really a niche book in a lot of ways; so much of what it does is dependent on context. See above, responses to thirty-year-old SF novels.
If I can build on W&W, though, I might be on to something. And we'll have to see how the second-world fantasy does, because man, over there is where the readership is. SRSLY. And I love the Norse stuff. I could write in the Eddas world all my life and be happy; I've had that fantasy world in my head since I was nine or ten years old. It's just bottomless. I can mine it for years. (The Promethean Age too--I will never run out of PA stories.)
And now I need to go eat some food and read some slush. Because "King Pole" is not getting revised today after all.
God, I love my job.
Just a working dog in Babylon....