Physician, heal thyself*

I have taught so many wonderful writing students over the years, and I always seem to know the answers to their problems (sometimes they don’t listen to my solutions… at first). So it embarrasses me greatly to admit that I’ve been struggling with my own writing for close to six months now. Dr Kim can’ t even diagnose herself, let alone write an appropriate prescription. I don’t know what brought it on. Perhaps it was publishing book #20 Gold Dust. A milestone–like those milestone birthdays–making me take stock.

The problem is, I have a surfeit of Really Good Ideas. And because I write across so many genres now, I don’t know quite where to throw my energy. Fab idea for children’s book time-travelling series. Cool idea for Brisbane goth YA novel. Desperate keen to write a chicklit all-girl band story. But I’ve narrowed it down to two:

An adult historical fantasy novel, working title “The Garden of the Mad King”, set in an alternative version of Anglo-Saxon England, about five daughters of a tribal warlord and the different paths they take when their father grows too ill to rule.


A Kimberley Freeman saga, working title “The Field of Clouds”, about a poor immigrant woman in Tasmania in the 1920s who goes about creating a fashion empire; and her grand-daughter in the present–fleeing a broken relationship and career in London–who inherits her grandmother’s house and all her hidden secrets.

I really can’t decide which one first. On the one hand, the fantasy novel speaks to my soul on so many levels. Get back to the magic, Kim, it says. But the work involved is huuuuge, and there’s 2 books in there I just know it (though trying to deny it to self). On the other hand, the Kimberley Freeman beckons like a crisp new beach-read novel. Let’s have fun, it says Let’s lie on the beach and get lost in it!  Frocks! Shoes! Glamour! (Though, admittedly, hard to type on the beach).

There are other pros and cons to both, some involving contractual obligations, some involving the ongoing viability of my membership to the SF community, some involving how tired I always am because my children wake before six every morning.

But the solution made itself clear to me just the other night. I know it sounds like madness, but listen to this.

I’m going to write… BOTH! Yes, I’m going to write the first chapter of each over the next few weeks. Then if I still can’t choose, I’ll write the second chapter of each. And so on. I’ve always sworn I couldn’t write two books at once, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And I do have the luxury of both a well-paying part-time job and a stay of execution on an imminent deadline.

Of course, it could all be a disaster and, if it is, you’ll hear it here first. But I think the most important thing of all is that I write something. I get very grumpy if I’m not writing and if that was you I shouted at when you took my spot at Toowong Village car park last week I’m very sorry. But I did have my blinker on first.

Wish me luck.


* my favourite version of this line is the one in the movie Barton Fink when two men come across the beheaded corpse of a doctor: “Physician, heal thyself.” “Good luck with no f**kin’ head.”

17 thoughts on “Physician, heal thyself*

  1. LOL *good luck* I’m a tad impressed, here’s me unable to even plot out a rewrite for a story that’s already written, and there you are with two wee alarm clocks going off every morning and embarking on a double-header. I genuflect in your general direction! (Would be keen to read the goth YA story, by the way. Any chance of a triple header?)

    And I think your credentials in the SF community are well established. Anyone who says otherwise can bite me.

    Cheers (and happy birthday for later!)


  2. Hi Kim, love your new site! You make me laugh out loud. And I join with Jason in the genuflecting – you work at the uni, you teach through the QWC, you have two kids and a husband, 20 books under your belt, and you’re going to do two at once. Wow. I have none of those and struggle. You are a wonder and we love you.

  3. Hi Kim,

    May I whinge never more about my writing life and my life in general. You are a great inspiration and whilst I am a fantasy kinda girl – I love the sound of the immigrant woman in Tasmania. Happy to hear you are tackling both. Sometime ago, I gave away writing so I could have a “life”. Turns out my life wasn’t worth **** without writing being a part of it. So I can relate to the feeling grumpy bit when you aren’t writing something. Looking forward to sharing the journey in here.

    Can I ask when the Happy BD is?

    Take care,


  4. Your modern day Bible will translate this title as “doctor, cure yourself”, which is accurate but nowhere near as poetic :).

    Starved as I have been of your fantasy since Rosa, I *really* like the sound of The Garden of the Mad King. Have you considered reducing five daughters to three and playing up the King Lear comparison?

  5. You are all assuming I can actually do it! NO PRESSURE OR ANYTHING. Let’s see it as an experiment.

    Steve, there area already more than a few Lear resonances, don’t worry. Though Cordelia never looked like this!

    Lynn, birthday is Monday. Capricorn, due to being born late in the evening and in the other hemisphere.


  6. Best of luck with your challenge.

    May I suggest locking the alarm clocks in the shed? Or maybe you could give them away, just for a little bit? Not forever, like. I mean, that would be silly.

  7. Kim, whichever way you end up going the book will be wonderful. I always loved the gothic adult books but I get so lost in Kimberley Freeman as well. A note of caution – please don’t endanger your health/sanity as well. I too have to write to feel balanced and centered but recently I pulled back a lot. My health really suffered through trying to do too much. Motherhood is such a full-time hard gig as it is. I had renovations as well I think it’s amazing you manage the word counts you do but don’t pile too much pressure on yourself. That’s Dr Jo’s sage advice for what it’s worth

  8. I’m thrilled to hear you’re doing both. I love, love, love the sound of the mad king and his 5 daughters – really want to read this book.
    I’m working on 3 plays at the moment. They are all at different stages, which makes it a little bit easier to juggle, but I really like having several projects on the go at once. There’s always one that appeals and I can spend a morning on one before swapping to another.
    I wish you the very best of luck with trying 2 books at once. Hope it works well for you and that, failing that, you find yourself on a roll with one of them, racing for the finish line.

  9. I’m not sure good luck are the words I would use with the ‘experiment’ you’re undertaking. I think you will do fine once you find the rhythm to juggling all the balls. The way you describe it with a chapter in each sandpit to see which is the more alluring sounds a great idea. Who knows it may be the new way of your creative process.

    I ditto Jason re your SF community links – even if you wanted to escape……(Mawson’s Hut may not be far enough).

    Oh & the children before sunrise deal – that is temporary (years can be temporary…..really *lol*). You will get your own sense of space back some day (though I know you wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world….except maybe some privacy, time yourself & an uninterrupted bath *LOL*).

    Happy Birthday for tomorrow.


  10. Hi Kim, I like your new blog. When I read about your ‘double project’ my first response was to laugh out loud. Second – I wanted to know ‘who are you and what have you done with Kim!’ Was it only a few months ago you said ‘pick a f** door and go through it?’ Seriously, both (all) ideas sound great. I’m sure what ever you decide to run with will be great, and if anyone can do it, you can.
    Happiest of birthdays and wonderful Xmas wishes for you and your family.
    Stay safe and sane,
    Jo Sandhu

  11. I think it’s good sometimes to break your own rules, no reason it can’t work. After all, I found a book the other day with shifting point of view that worked! Must be a sign. 🙂

  12. That’s what I call an excellent dilemma, Kim! Go for it – even with the lack of sleep.
    Before you know it time has slipped past in a flash and your children will leave home, and, my god, don’t you wish you’d really appreciated every moment more (except the lack of sleep) – our only son, now 21, just left home and we’re getting over empty nest syndrome. Boo hoo!

  13. Hi Kim, how are the two books going? Are you staying sane? I have a question about deciding what to write. I have had a girl meets vampire story in my head for a few years (really!) and am now not so sure whether to spend time writing it and having to fear people thinking I am a Stephanie Myers wanna-be. It is the story that now takes up most of my head (those characters are chatting away up there)? But should I try harder with one of my other stories and not follow the ‘flavor of the day’? Thoughts anyone? PS it is not so hard to type on the sand, you’ve just got to be carefull not to get too much in the keyboard.

  14. Hi, Michelle. I think that you can’t NOT write the girl-meets-vampire book just because of Twilight etc. You have to write the book you want to write and not think of the market, because the market is fickle and constantly changing.

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