Earlier this year, I found myself with little to do. I’d planned to spend my summer writing another pair of novels for the Knights of the Silver Dragon line. However, when Wizards canceled the line, I looked down and saw I had an empty plate.
I filled that space with a number of smaller gigs while I went out hunting for big game to bring to the table. How’d I get myself in such a situation? I’d forgotten one of the first rules of freelancing:
Never stop looking for work.
When 2005 started, I’d lined up a five or six novels to write, and then came the work on Marvel Heroes Battle Dice and R.E.V.s for Playmates, plus a few other things. I found myself double or triple booked some months, and the thought of tracking down more work seemed insane. I figured my time would have been better spent looking into human cloning, accelerated growth stimulation, and in-creche education initiatives instead.
I finally brought my head up for air this past summer, just when I was about to start work on those two Knights novels. Yikes.
Being a freelancer is like running on a treadmill. You need to keep a good pace, something strong enough to keep you busy and feed your family but not so fast that you wear yourself out. This summer, it seemed like someone had pulled the plug on the machine and I’d run right off the end of it.
As I dusted myself, I tried to look at this as a crisis in the Chinese sense (in which “crisis” means “danger” and “opportunity”). I decided to stretch beyond the same stuff I’d been doing and try a few new things. Some of them would probably wash out—most of them, likely—but I only needed one of them to pay off for the plan to work.
I lined up a few other gigs while I set up my new plans of attack. I wanted to write more tie-in novels, do some serious computer game work, write a creator-owned series of novels, write more comics, and get more involved in toy work.
I founds loads of good leads, but for months nothing panned out. It frustrated me, but i consoled myself with the fact that my wife had just gone back to work full-time, which meant my family needed more of my time than ever. Still those bills don’t go away when you need more time, and I had to get something going soon so I could pay them.
Then the week before Thanksgiving everything seemed to come together—all at once.
At the moment, I’m working on:
- The Mutant Chronicles film novelization.
- A fourth Blood Bowl novel (yes, the Black Library asked me for another!)
- A non-fiction book (another in the Complete Idiot’s Guide series, one that’s more in line with my experiences than The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Manga Fantasy Creatures Illustrated).
- A story for a big-budget computer game.
- The questions for a mass-market trivia game.
- The logic flowchart for a mass-market electronic toy.
That puts me back in the no-rest-for-the-weary category once more, but as my friend Henrik Strandberg says, “ I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” One thing I’ll make sure I do this time around though: I’ll never stop looking for work.