Asylum and Mirage, soon to be published, is my eighteenth novel, though some of its ideas and plot go back to 1985’s unpublished Parts I and II. To look back at my writing history, I made a list of novel composition dates from earliest drafts to either publication or abandonment. But I hadn’t expected to be taken aback by these statistics.
Novels in Order of Composition
- Nova Scotia, 1973-1974 (unpublished)
- The Fifty-First State of Consciousness, 1973 (unpublished)
- Akard Drearstone, 1976-2017
- The University of Mars, 1980-2009 (unpublished)
- Zarreich and subsequent versions, 1981-1983 (unpublished)
- Parts I and II and subsequent versions, 1985-1992 (unpublished)
- The Martian Marauders, 1965 childhood draft, 1986-2020
- Jack Commer, Supreme Commander, 1986-2020
- Sortmind, 1987-2019
- CommWealth, 1990-2020
- The Soul Institute, 1994-2020
- Nonprofit Chronowar, 2000-2020
- Jump Grenade, 1967 childhood draft, 2008-2019
- Collapse and Delusion, 2011-2020
- The Wounded Frontier, 2012-2020
- The SolGrid Rebellion, 2014-2020
- Balloon Ship Armageddon, 2018-2021
- Asylum and Mirage, 2021-2023
Longest Periods from First Draft to Publication/Abandonment
- The Martian Marauders, 34 years from its 1986 adult version, but 55 from its eighth-grade 1965 rough draft
- Jump Grenade, 11 years from 2008, but 42 from its original 1967 idea
- Akard Drearstone, 41 years
- Parts I and II ideas influencing 2023’s Asylum and Mirage, 38 years
- Jack Commer, Supreme Commander, 34 years
- Sortmind, 32 years
- CommWealth, 30 years
- The University of Mars, 29 years (2009 resurrection attempt unpublished)
- The Soul Institute, 26 years
- Nonprofit Chronowar, 20 years
- Collapse and Delusion, 9 years
- The Wounded Frontier, 8 years
Surprising New Clarity
Look at the epochs that have defined so many of my projects. In contrast, the last four Jack Commer series books went quickly, the way good what-if plots should unfold. Collapse and Delusion and The Wounded Frontier came out much faster than the above totals indicate, considering their original publisher delays and demise, and their eventual Sortmind Press republishing in 2020:
- Collapse and Delusion, 16 months, Jan. 2011 to May 2012 accepted MS.
- The Wounded Frontier, 13 months, Nov. 2012 to Dec. 2013 accepted MS.
- The SolGrid Rebellion, 33 months, Aug. 2014 to May 2017 accepted MS
- Balloon Ship Armageddon, 33 months, May 2018 to Feb. 2021 publication
- Desire to revisit or fix old work, sometimes for positive, sometimes for negative reasons.
- Difficulty figuring out what I want to say, the first draft of The Soul Institute being a prime example, but Asylum and Mirage being right up there with it insofar as idea gestation from 1985 goes; the actual new novel has been 19 months.
- But that fun SF unfolds very quickly due to the compelling what-if at the heart of the story.
A Certain Karmic Method?
These statistics point to a certain karmic method I’ve used to try to understand things, and while I can’t say it’s been a good or bad technique, it’s somehow been a built-in function in my life. Not that it couldn’t change from here on out, and maybe should.
Seeing so many books taking decades to come to fruition has been eye-opening, and ties into a new urge to write some quick, high-energy SF. So I just wrote up my initial notes for Supreme Commander Laurie, Book One of a new Supreme Commander Laurie series. I want to use the series to explore whatever’s on my mind. The two Lauries will have a role in both Laurie’s and Jack Commer’s series universes, so Jack will still occasionally appear.
copyright 2023 by Michael D. Smith