It’s time for the monthly meeting of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers share insecurities, doubts, and concerns.
I began my current WIP, Journey Through a Dark Forest: Lyuba and Ivan in the Age of Anxiety, on 5 November 2012, and am finally less than 100,000 words from the finish line, if all continues going well. (I really don’t want to go over 600K with this book!) I’m already thinking ahead to how to order everything waiting in my queue.
I’m committed to taking another break from my Russian characters before getting back to them, so their continuing stories and my writing won’t suffer from burnout or dwindling sparks. And I really don’t want to write another single-volume book that’s so long immediately afterwards. I already know the prequel will be at least 500K as well, since it covers 20 years, 1897-1917.
I’ve already begun pulling an outline together in my head for a future volume that’ll begin in March 1953, with the death of Stalin and subsequent amnesty and defection for Georgiya and Aleksandr. Georgiya also manages to smuggle her aging parents, her much-younger sister Nelya and her husband, and, unwillingly, her adoptive niece Karla out from behind the Iron Curtain. Once in America, Georgiya and Ginny (real name Mikhail) will rekindle their juvenile relationship, marry, and have a second child to be named Leonid, after the brother who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect his family during the Great Terror.
But I’ve also got some ideas for a book before then, showing Lyuba and Ivan fulfilling their long-deferred dream of going to university, as their middle children Igor and Ilya go to university in New York and have romances with formerly secondary characters Violetta Likachëva and Milada Yeltsina-Baronova, respectively. It’ll give me a great chance to depict the postwar university experience, as well as what it was like to be a woman, let alone an older woman, at university during this era.
I’m not sure when exactly I should write the prequel. Part of me wants to save it for after the next two volumes are completed, and part of me feels I should have a go at it before publishing the first volume. Since at least Part I will focus on Lyuba and Ivan’s respective parents and aunt and uncle as young couples, and Lyuba’s mother’s thwarted romance with the man she should’ve married over the abusive pedophile, it might be a great chance to get to know them better as characters. While Lyuba’s mother has developed very well without that much backstory so far, it might help with giving greater insights into how she’s depicted in Part I of the first book.
I’m pretty sure the next project in my queue should be my significant editing and revision of my first Max’s House book. I need something short and lighthearted after such a long drama. The book is only about 60,000 words, which is super-short by my standards. Most of the MH books I’ve finished to date are around 50-60K, with a few outliers in desperate, glaring need of liberal pruning.
After that’s done, my next in line project is resuming The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees, which began as a long collection of stories and wraparound narrative segments. Like Jakob’s story, it’s going to be expanded into a complete novel. I’m thinking that might be around the length of Jakob’s first volume, ~120K. I also really want to get back to Justine Grown Up, but I really need to find people to interview for firsthand details on the dramatic penultimate chapter, “Sing Blue Silver Snowstorm.”
Should I work on something else afterwards, or just go right to the next Russian novel? My queue now includes my long-shelved 18th and 19th century characters, whom I haven’t worked with in over 20 years and didn’t think I’d ever want to resurrect so many years later.