I’ve been on a job-application binge the last two weeks. I’d love to say that employers are banging down my door, but sadly this is not the case. I wonder if it’s my answer to the where-do-you-see-yourself-in-five-years question, which has come up repeatedly and never fails to annoy me. What’s the right answer to that one, anyway? I hope to be alive, let’s say, still clothed and with a roof over my head. Still married, still writing, still free to walk the streets. Clearly the answer to an employer should fall along the lines of: I hope to be moving up the ranks! Acquiring new skills! Happily and slavishly devoted to the man, hoo-ah!
Look, I get it, and I can bullshit with the best of them. But what about my real work? What about writing? Where do I go from here?
I can’t decide whether it’s helpful to think long-term about writing. I tend to be a goal-oriented person and a real worker bee, but even knowing that about myself and retracing my steps as a writer doesn’t seem to indicate any clear direction for my future. I’ve considered starting a series with my next book. I have some rough ideas about what that might look like and it isn’t unappealing. But writing a series scares me a little. It’s such a long-term commitment, and what if the first one bombs? Or worse, what if I got bored with the characters? Boredom is death for a writer. Imagine slogging through book three of a trilogy when you were sick of the world you’d made by the end of book one.
Maybe it would be better to stick to single titles. I could write a sexed-up new adult book, maybe, or try to make like Gillian Flynn and hit the lottery with book three by sticking to my tried-and-true. Psychological suspense is the bomb-diggity as far as I’m concerned; I could write this stuff for a long time before it got old. But what if my thrillers aren’t that good, what if they wither on the vine? Would I bail? Try a new genre? Throw myself at my agent and demand that he hand over a bestselling plot?
I have no idea. All I can see at the moment is the manuscript under my nose, begging me to finish the rewrite.
What about you? Where do you imagine you’ll be in five years, writing or otherwise?