I was typing in a title for this blog entry, and the computer automatically supplied the questions above. "What am I doing? What should I be doing?" Presumably that means they are questions I have asked myself before, frequently. Seems to me they are questions writers might reasonably ask themselves all the time.
At the moment I'm working on two projects, pretty much simultaneously. Well, not quite simultaneously, obviously. I seem to be working on the first - my next historical crime novel - by day, and the second - a libretto for an opera about Jean Cocteau - in the evening. My kids also want me to finish the children's story I'm writing for them. Yes, it is strictly for them and I have no realistic expectation of it getting published. My kids, however, seem to want me to try.
So basically, I'm crime writer by day, librettist by night, which is crazy, because I never reallly saw myself as either a crime writer or a librettist. The crime writing came about because I had very specific idea for a (one-off) crime novel - taking Porfiry Petrovich, the investigating magistrate from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment - and making him the hero of his own sleuthing yarn. When I discussed the idea with my agent, he suggested I should come up with a few other story lines because "Publishers always like it if you can offer them a series." Not serioously imagining this idea would come to anything (none of my others had) I carelessly agreed. "Yeah, sure, whatever."
So I got a two book deal and now my UK publishers, Faber and Faber, have come back for a third, and if that goes well, I guess they'll keep coming back. Suddenly I'm a crime writer. Which is fine by me. I enjoy the challenges of the genre. I love writing in genre, and I think that committing to a definite genre was what my writing needed and it really helped me progress as a writer. But I suppose I don't see myself exclusively as a crime writer, just a writer who for the moment happens to be writing crime.
The libretto came about because a friend of mine, Ed Hughes, is a composer. He's written an opera before - The Birds, based on the play by Aristophanes, not the film by Hitchcock. And he and I collaborated about ten years ago on a small scale music theatre piece. But writing the libretto for a full length (70-80 minute) opera is a new challenge for me. We're working towards a projected performance date of May 2009, which is not that far away. Scarily close.
The challenges of the two kinds of writing are very different, and if I get any time, I will come back to say a little more about it.
Now, I think I'd better get on with some work!
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