A couple of days ago I sent in Eversion, which if all goes well should appear in the latter part of next year. I started thinking seriously about it late last summer, but didn't get really going on it until I'd completed the first round of edits on Inhibitor Phase.
It's a standalone, unrelated to anything else I've done. It's basically a novel about first contact with a "big dumb (or not so dumb) object" but it's a fair bit weirder than that summary might make you think, with (I hope) an unusual approach to both theme and narrative viewpoint. It's also, in its present form, quite a bit shorter than my previous novels. After the relatively long Inhibitor Phase (which is still shorter than its predecessors in the RS universe) I wanted to try delivering a short, sharp, shock of SF, perhaps closer in tone to my novellas such as Troika, Slow Bullets or Permafrost. It's still taken me seven or eight months, though, allowing for time off to work on the Inhibitor edits, and of course this book will in turn eat into my time as I make inroads into the next book. Before that, though, I'm likely to try another novella.
Eversion becomes my eighteenth novel from my primary publisher. For those keeping score. it's the ninth novel in the ten-book sequence I signed up to with Gollancz/Orion/Hachette. It's my nineteenth if you include the Doctor Who title, and my twentieth if one allows The Medusa Chronicles, my collaboration with Stephen Baxter. It's my twenty-second if you include the two novels I wrote in my teens.
You'd think it would be getting easier by now. The only lesson I've learned across all those books is that there will come a point where the creative momentum slows to a halt, the inspiration evaporates, the work feels valueless, and ... you just work through that. Like the graining on Lewis Hamilton's tyres, it will eventually sort itself out. You remember why you were excited about the idea in the first place, and a second wind comes in.
That's really all I learned - just to keep carrying on.