Regaining a literary reputation is not for sissies

It would be easier not to lose it in the first place, of course.  To get a reputation back, you have to do everything.

But you have a full time job and other responsibilities.  You don’t have time to do everything.

So you pick a handful of high-priority projects and try to get them done.

The problem with working multiple projects is that you can always find something more interesting to do than the project you're currently working on.  That last 10 - 20 percent is tedious and unrewarding, and there is always some fresh young project sashaying by that just seems much more attractive.  This is as true at work (“another round of corporate approvals?”) as in your writing (“I can’t believe I need to edit that again”).

Within my hour a day, there is only time to focus on one thing.  So, which is it?  Revise that story?  Write a new story in time for the next workshop session?  Tackle the revision on that giant novel manuscript?  Or sit around and think up some great new concept that someday I might work on?

At some point, each of those needs to get done:  an SF writing career really does benefit from a mix of novels and short fiction.  You don’t want huge time gaps between published works, and keeping both pipelines filled is enormously difficult.

The real trick is to actually be working on something every day.  Dithering, fiddling, agonizing, and woolgathering are all time-consuming activities.  They can easily take up that hour a day.  They will, unless sternly fought back.

Despite my best efforts, they sometimes do.

Am I getting it done?  Not perfectly, but better than I used to.  I’ve dug through a stack of old and new written stories and revised several (discovering, to my dismay, that several of them had waited quite a while).  I’ve written several new stories (which, curses, must now be revised, and so have just migrated from one stack to another rather than leaving my office).  And I have a large draft of my next book, After the Victory, and an outline for revision.  I’ve put together a proposal for it, but haven’t quite dared start the major revision—this is a single-minded effort of quite a few months, and I wanted to get my story pipeline filled.

So, we'll see.  There are no large secrets, only many small ones, and maybe I've learned a few.