Friday, May 8, 2009

In Sickness And In Hell

"Do you, Helen E. H. Madden, take this series to be your lawfully long term project, to have and to hold, to write and to edit, in sickness and in health, through edits and rewrites, for publication and promotion, until death do you part?"

"Uh... what was the question again?"

Anyone who's ever written a novel will tell you that a story that long takes a lot of commitment to finish. Anyone who's ever written a series of novels will probably tell you that you should be committed, as in locked away in a padded room with a custom fit straight-jacket and those funny little pills that make you feel oh-so-happy all day long.

Personally, I have not written a series of novels... yet. I have two published books to my name, one of which is a collection of short stories and the other of which was meant to be the first book in a trilogy of dark fantasy erotica novels. I loved that novel. In fact, I used to eat, sleep and breathe that novel. I loved the exotic settings and the twisty turny plot. I loved the way the characters would wake me up in the middle of the night, feeding me pages of dialog and steamy sex scenes. I loved, loved, loved it!

And yet I have never returned to write that second book.

There are a dozen reasons why, including the fact that I was asked to write something else first. I shouldn't have done that. I shouldn't have cheated on my first love by going on to work on this second novel. I have yet to finish the second novel at all (though I've got about 30,000 words of it written, so I guess I should finish it some time). But I strayed, and two years after diving into that initial relationship with Demon By Day, I sit here wondering if and when I can revive that long lost love.

Will the half-demon Orziel still talk to me if I dare to conjure him up? Or will he flip me the bird and say, "Sorry sucker, but I know who you've been screwing around with." I'm almost afraid to try. But there's something inside me that makes me think that flame is still alive, and I think that if I try, I could lure my characters back and worm my way into their good graces once more.

But not right now. I've got a list of projects as long as my arm, including a podcast that requires I write, record and produce a new short story every week. I had initially considering writing and producing an ongoing story for the podcast, taking a longer story and breaking it down into weekly installments, like a TV series only in audio format. But I worried about the commitment that would require. What if I didn't like the story? What if I wrote myself into a corner and couldn't figure out how to get out? What if I ran out of steam before I reached the end of a lengthy plot?

What if, what if, what if. As much as those words frequently inspire stories, they can also kill potential projects. With so many what-ifs looming over my head, I opted not to do a podcast serial and went for the individual stories instead. I figured this way I could get away with just doing five episodes and then if I didn't like the project or I couldn't handle the workload, I could quit without leaving anyone hanging. After all, how long could this podcast thing last? Three months? Six?

Or maybe a year and a half and still counting?

"Do you, Helen E. H. Madden, take the Heat Flash erotica podcast to be your lawfully wedded long term project, to have and to hold, to write and edit and produce, recording in sickness and in health, through technical difficulties and computer crashes, until death do you part?"


Honestly, at this point I guess it's too late to say no.


  1. Ah, podcasts sound a lot like blogs. Sometimes they take so much time, they actually take away from the writing. But you're into so many other things, Helen, with the Cynical Woman strip etc. I say, do what you enjoy. I can't draw a stick figure, so I'm just going to write until my fingers drop off.

    Take care, and Happy Mother's Day!


  2. I think if the characters stuck with you for the whole first novel, they may well come back and play nicely for the second - maybe they want to find out what happens in it to.

    As for other projects taking over. I said I would write a series earlier this year. But then I decided that if I was going to make a commitment to that project, I should tie up all the lose ends on all the others first. A couple of months later I've well and truely given up on that idea, lol. I'm never going to be that up to date!

    Take care,

    Kim Dare.

  3. Hey Jamie and Kim! Honestly, the biggest obstacle between me and any long term project right now (beyond the podcast and the web comic) is time. With one kid in kindergarten and another still at home, I have to pick and choose my projects wisely. I have not give up hope on a sequel to Demon By Day. It will just take a little while longer to get it done.

    As for the podcast and comic, they do take time away from writing, but then they are also writing in and of themselves. Both projects start at the keyboard, so I'm getting my word count in that way ;)

    Happy Mother's Day everyone!

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  5. I started doing podcasts, but, yeah, I haven't done any more. The editing time, etc is more than what I have right now. Hopefully in the future, that will change. :)

    BTW, I have two series that I've never finished. LOL I'm better with short stories. No more than say 15,000 words. My attention span lasts about that long. (grin) Now, I can read series, although I do prefer stand alone stories unless the series is already completed. (grin) I want it now. Yeah, I'm Type A. ;)


  6. Helen,

    Yes, exactly, what you said. LOL I too have a couple of series in the works but..., there's that but thing. Time, other commitments, fear, it's all there. My style has changed, grown, I'd have to completely edit the first book and get it out there again. Then there's my vamps and... and... Oh man!

    There's always new things and family, and more. A series really does take a chunk of time to create and get done. Some of us can do it, some can't.

    Great post!


  7. Hey, Helen,

    I have no doubt that you will finish Orziel's new book at some point. As I recall, you were working on "Demon by Day" forever. I remember when you used to post your monthly writing goals and accomplishments on the ERWA writers list. I was so impressed by your dedication.

    Orziel is too strong a character to stay quiet. But you know, the longer you ignore him, the more outrageous he's likely to be once you do turn your attention back to him and his world.



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