Terrific discussion of readings, all! It brings up another question for me. When and how do you transition from the public side of things (readings, promotion, etc.) and into a new project? A couple of you mentioned having a second project underway already. Is the second book harder than the first? Different? Scarier? What have your experiences been with the move from one project to another? Have you been working on a novel while touring/reading/selling a collection, for instance? So, in other words, what's next?
Roxane Gay: I'm always working on several projects at once so it's a lot easier for me to transition from the intense focus on one project to something else. I'll let you know if this holds true this fall after the book comes out — it probably won't and that will be funny. I'll look back on this and say, "SHUT UP, SELF." I'm lucky, or cursed in that I have my next four books completed or in progress, so next up is my full length story collection, then the novel which is based on a short story in Ayiti, a chapbook of short stories written from the collective POV, and a novella of sorts about a family album.
Jedediah Berry: I must say that I think SHUT UP, SELF would make a great title for a novel. (And would have to be written in the first person, of course.)
After finishing The Manual of Detection, I wrote only short stories for a while. I was exhausted, from the book and from some other things, plus I'd built up a pile of ideas for stories that I hadn't been able to get to while writing the novel. I'm working on a new novel now. It's a train novel. Or a train and ghosts novel. But not a ghost train novel.
Andrew Ervin: I've been at work on a novel for a while now. Maybe it's done, but probably not. (I'm going offline for a few days, or longer, so thanks everyone for the great ideas here!)
Mike Young: I'm writing more poems and working on an epistolary novel, wherein a dude who works for YouTube has been assigned to inform a user of their account's impending termination due to perverse viewing habits. I don't know if it's working or not. It's kind of insane. The only other project I have is set in a world where beaches are made of ruffled potato chips. And someone puts nectarines in post office boxes. Both of these things are concerned with very domestic issues like sitting still and making things up. And food, I guess?
Laura van den Berg: I’m finishing a novel and working on new stories. I found it difficult to keep working on novel revisions while I was doing the book stuff, so I’m definitely feeling ready to transition away from things to do with What the World Will Look Like… and to place my focus exclusively, or at least semi-exclusively, on the new work. Since the stories in my collection are pretty thematically consistent, I’ve been conscious of trying to not repeat myself, though some of the elements that are in my collection have definitely appeared in the novel, so at a certain point I just had to go with it.
Holly Goddard Jones: I'm working on a novel. It's funny — I do these readings back home, and people seem to expect that the novel will be out in another six months or so. At this point, I'd be over-the-moon thrilled if I could just get the draft done in that amount of time. I'm a very insecure novelist. I mean, I've never finished a novel before. I won't know that I can do it until it's done, and I just want to be revising the thing already. I want it to exist, in whatever poor a form, so I can know it's done.
Kyle Beachy: I'm about halfway through a new novel about fear and failure. Writing takes me a really long time.
Kevin Wilson: I just turned in what I hope is the final revision of a novel to Ecco. I've been revising it since November. It was fun to write, but now I want to write more short stories.
Caitlin Horrocks: I'm working on a novel, plus more stories that are probably the start of the next collection. They're all always going on at once, so I don't really have a sense of transitioning away from the finished book into something completely new.
Tom McAllister: I'm at work on a very long mess of a novel. It's a book I've always vaguely wanted to write (it's about pro wrestling, and has nothing to do with Mickey Rourke), and was very eager to start on it by the time I was in process of final edits on the memoir. For a while, I was really driven by the excitement of being able to create new stuff, rather than reading the same old sentences for the 30th time. I've already worked on this novel longer than I did on the memoir (the memoir was probably ~18 months before sale to publisher), but I'm still enjoying the work, which I take as a good sign. The negative here is that I think I've reached the point where people kind of expect me to have finished by now. They keep asking, "are you done the wrestling book yet?" and all I can offer are vague promises of progress. Hopefully, though, it'll be readable (and 150 pages shorter) by August. Maybe late August. September?