The word of the day is: Moving Fast.
The M in Project M should stand for Moving Fast. I got the information for this series last week, spoke with an editor, and drafted an opening chapter over the weekend. I sent it in for comments on Monday and had a conference with the editor on Tuesday. Now I'm working from revision notes on another draft chapter for the end of the week.
This is not what I'm used to. Usually I have an idea, start writing at a leisurely pace, and take a few weeks or a couple months before I show it to anyone at all. I'm insecure about openings. I spend a lot of time worrying that I'm off on a complete wrong track that nobody would ever want to read. And the part where I'm talking with an editor has always come long after the book is finished and completely revised two or three times.
Not that I'm complaining. I'm getting into Project M and having a blast with it. This is still just an audition, by the way, but even if I'm not picked to write this series I've already learned a lot about writing for the mainstream markets.
One of my strengths has always been writing quirky characters--the more quirks the better! I'm having to reign myself in with this project to make the main character more normal and easier for kids to identify with. There's still humor in the characters and the situations they get themselves into, but I'm having to work harder for it. I'm picking fruit from higher up in the tree and I think that will make me a better writer.
I'm also not used to writing with an eye to what's marketable. On the one hand, I don't think anyone can ever tell what's going to be "the next big thing" that takes the world by storm. Who would have predicted that phonebook-sized middle-grade books about a British wizard school would sell as many copies as the "Harry Potter" series has? Nobody! And most of the books that were touted as "the next Harry Potter" haven't turned out very well at all. But on the other hand, editors have market knowledge and experience that can't be ignored. And the editors at a book packager are like uber-editors because their job is to put together projects that make ordinary editors salivate.
My challenge will be working within those constraints and still ending up with a well-crafted book I can be proud of.