The Conveyor Belt

I was warned about the conveyor belt years ago, when I first began writing and was starting to try to get published.

At that stage, it sounds like a dream.  You're desperate to get onto it.  But when you've actually managed to get a book out, and - heaven forfend! - another one is commissioned, or perhaps even more, that's when you start to feel it.

It's how authors often refer to the continual demand of publishers for more books - the pressure of expectation.  If your first effort has done reasonably well and made them some money, they immediately want more.

It's quite understandable - from a business point of view, anyway.  I've often said that, for all the romance surrounding it, writing is just a commercial industry.  If a publisher can make cash from you then you're in.  If not...

The trouble is that the commercial view often conflicts with the artistic spirit (cue creative flounce).  Writers don't want to be thought of as just commodities, churning out a product. 

We're special!  (Or so we like to think, anyway, even if that may not be entirely justified.)

About now is when you feel the conveyor belt the most sharply.  The glow of publication of your new book is starting to fade, and - that's just three weeks on! - the inevitable question comes.

Have you started work on the new book yet?  When will it be ready?  What's it about?


A quick interlude with a pleasant diversion, because I need it before I carry on.  I had a great time at the Devon County Show last week (a wonderful heartbeat of the county event), and here's a picture of me in action (as it were) with an expression that actually looks like a passable smile for once.

Simon at Devon Show 2013.jpg

Right, back to the belt. 

I suspect it's just simple human nature, applied to writing.  I remember clearly how when I bought my first flat, it was a huge battle to get it, then I had the excitement of moving in, and then... a post fun slump when I started to doubt whether I should have bought the place at all.

Such are the trials of this great game called life. 

Anyhow, I don't mean to sound downbeat.  That would be daft.  It's a privilege to be a writer, as I've often said, and even more so to be asked to pen another novel.

And yes, since you ask, plans are afoot for a new book, number seven in thetvdetective series. 

And guess what?  I'm starting to fall in love with the idea and very much enjoying sketching out the plot and characters.

Maybe that old conveyor belt isn't such a bad thing after all.