What next? – help me decide!

It’s been quite difficult to get down to any serious writing recently. I’ve had quite a lot of teaching work on (I teach Ethics at Leeds University), and over the past few weeks there’s been a lot to do in connection with the sale of my Mum’s old house in Staffordshire, following her move to a care home here in Meltham last May (see https://timwordsblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/life-imitates-art/).  The next month or so is going to be a dead loss too, as the house needs to be emptied before the new owner moves in.  After that, though, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and I should be able to start work on my next fiction project.

As for what that project might be, there are two possibilities:

A:  A much-delayed sequel to my first novel, Zeus of Ithome.  My central character, Diocles, would be participating in the events of the mid-3rd century BCE in and around Greece. In particular, his life would intersect with the careers of two important historical figures – the Theban statesman and general Epaminondas (who has already played a big part in Zeus of Ithome) and the future King Philip II of Macedon, who in later life established hegemony over the Greek world (probably not in this novel, though possibly in the next one after that).  I don’t yet have a story line, but I do have some plot ideas and a possible theme of Greek unification.

The second idea is something completely different!

B:  For a few months now, I have been exploring an idea for a sci-fi novel (or series of novels) about a human colony in a remote star system.  The community is ruled by a caste of priests, and over time has lost access to its history and most of its technology (as a result, the novel would have, at least initially, something of the feel of a fantasy novel, since technology, when encountered, is interpreted as magic or divine intervention).  Again, I don’t yet have a story line, but it is likely to revolve around characters trying to escape the rigid theocratic regime and uncovering bit by bit the true history of their people.

What to do?  My head says A – it would be a continuation of my previous work and hopefully would have a ready-made initial readership in the people who enjoyed Zeus of Ithome.  I do want to write this novel, and I’m sure that I will, sooner or later.  By contrast, B would be something of a leap in the dark.  I’ve not written sci-fi before, except in a few short stories.  I’d be looking for new readers – I don’t know how many of those who read my first two novels would be interested in this kind of thing.

But there’s no getting away from the fact that, as far as my heart is concerned, B has more momentum right now.  I’ve become a bit hooked on fleshing out the world where the story would be set – even to the point of developing a functional language!  I’m not sure how easy I’ll find it to put all that away and knuckle down to write something different.

There is a third possibility, which is to do A, but set aside a bit of time to keep B going as a long-term project which would hopefully come to fruition a year or two down the line, and continue ‘world-building’ in the meantime.  But is that really feasible?

Anyway, I have a month or so to make up my mind.  I would welcome any comments or suggestions as to what I should do – here, or on my Facebook page.


photo:  (c) Филип Романски 2012

3 thoughts on “What next? – help me decide!

  1. Hi Tim – first of all – well done on juggling all of the above. Really admire you for this and the hard work of helping your mum.
    On the ‘what next’ dilemma – I have been faced with the same over the last two years but I haven’t been as well thought-out in my approach as you. I (like many others) would love to see a sequel to ‘Zeus’ but I’ve been in the same position where I felt that I should get the sequel to my first novel out. I don’t regret doing that at all, but I am now working on a book which is more of a ‘passion project’ and it sounds a bit like you’re really INTO it. Something that gets the creative juices flowing shouldn’t be ignored. Even if you start it and stop it and then want to return to the Zeus sequel.
    How about a 4th option?
    Start the new, fizzying-away idea (you’re one of the most versatile writers that I know so I can’t imagine that you won’t be a dab-hand at this new genre for you) and treat the sequel to Zeus as a sort of writing exercise that comes from a different place in you.
    I found it VERY wearing (but challenging in terms of sharpening my writing) to produce a sequel – very different indeed to simply writing a book ‘stand alone’ – hence me saying that you could maybe treat it as a sort of writing exercise to begin with.
    Hope you make a good choice for you …

    Liked by 1 person

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