The other day I was reading an article on the late Michael Crichton, one of my favorite authors, and it had said that he’d left behind a detailed outline and partial manuscript that was being used to complete the rest of the novel “Micro,” a science fiction novel. On his website it said:
“Crichton was well into the writing of the book when he died in November 2008, leaving behind the first third of the manuscript, an outline, and a well-defined cast of characters. He also left a bibliography of close to 100 books and DVDs, as well as detailed notes and research.”
I’m thinking…100 books for research? Wow! Then I turned around to look at all the bookcases cluttering my living room and realized that 100 books to research a project isn’t so unusual after all. I think I’ve topped that number over the years for the Journey Saga. I am most impressed with how organized Crichton was. He left behind enough information for someone else to pick up where he left off. How many authors can take pride in that? I’ve got the notes and outlines, but if something happened to me I doubt that someone could make heads or tails out of my chaotic mess.
First of all, I don’t have a bibliography list of books I’ve read over the past 15 years and I couldn’t remember every book on elephants, crocodiles, temples, mythology, etc. that I’ve read for research. Some of my books have fallen apart and are missing pages. A few websites that I’ve used no longer exist. How would I begin to start the process of organizing my project so that the saga could continue long after I’m gone? Last year when I began rewriting Journey of the Damned I began using novel writing software which has helped me organize most of my notes and outlines, but I still have crates full of journals that I’ve used to write Books 3-9 that I have yet to convert into digital format.
One thing that I’ve noticed about Michael Crichton and other authors like him that have written over 20 novels or more is how with each book they seem to master their techniques. Writing seems to become easier and it’s as if they struggle far less than the rest of us. I can only strive to achieve that kind of success, and I don’t mean the financial kind…even though that would be nice! I’m talking about obtaining the level of skill where writing is easier and less of a struggle because you’ve found your own voice and discovered your own style.
So one of my goals this year is to become more organized…maybe not the way that Crichton was. But this is an important goal for me because I want to make sure that I leave behind a blueprint for my children should they decide to continue the saga after I’m gone. And also because I believe that order will help me master my own technique.
What is your personal goal as a writer?
The Official Site of Michael Crichton