New stories, new writing, and getting back to the grind

It’s not the fastest I’ve ever written a story, but let’s be honest–I hadn’t written anything new in over a year.

Between the middle of 2016 and the middle of 2017, I had my most productive year ever. I wrote several full-length novels and novellas. I think I released five books in 2017. They rolled out one right after another, and trying to keep up with that workload made me ill. I gave myself a few months off and then blogged a rough, unedited draft of a story, The City of Arches. By the end of May, I’d finished.

I didn’t write anything new after that, burying myself instead in the task of heavy editing and revision. In the seven months that followed, I wrote and rewrote, but only completed revision of one book.

Writing is hard. I think the idea that it must be easy is the most pervasive myth about the job, followed by the mistaken belief that most writers make money from their work. The truth of the matter is writing is exhausting and it takes a lot of time. I try to give myself an hour a day to write. A good day is 1,000 words. Anything beyond that is phenomenal.

Most people who write more than that don’t have the same demands on their time that I do. Many write full-time, for whole eight-hour shifts or more. Being in some online communities with very successful authors, I see a lot of people who write for ten or more hours a day as full-time authors, or people who get home and write all evening. Unsurprisingly, most of them don’t have children. The few who do acknowledge that they spend no time with their families, in favor of spending their time writing.

I don’t want that to be me.

Cutting back on what I allowed myself to cram into a day meant fewer books. In the months that followed the cut-back, I began to understand why people think it’s outrageous that authors like Stephen King and Danielle Steel are as productive as they are. The secret is they aren’t. Not really. Even giving myself two weeks of “emergency days” where I do no writing at all, my modest one hour of writing time, 1,000 words a day, is enough to produce four novels ranging between 80,000 and 100,000 words in length each year. Or seven 50,000 word novels, as if I write that short. Or sixteen-plus 20,000 word novellas, which I do occasionally write.

A novella was where I decided to pick up after I finished revising a book this year. I gave myself a month, figuring it would keep pressure low. I drafted an outline on a scrap of paper, projected it would be about 25,000 words, and started on May 1. I finished 5 days early at approximately 22,500 words.

Not bad.

TSW word counts from Pacemaker.pressIn case you’re curious, the chart is from Pacemaker Press. I love the site for tracking my productivity. Seeing the little dots fill the chart brings me a big sense of accomplishment and I don’t really know why.

I’m sure there are a lot of things I could share about this project, but I’m not ready for that quite yet. It’s with an editor at the moment, so I’ll follow up after she’s done. Right now, though, I’ll say that the novella is a fantasy story set in my primary story world. It’ll be part of a series, eventually, but the first is written so it can be read by itself… just in case I don’t get to the rest in a timely fashion. Right now, I plan for three novellas and one additional short story, but there’s room for expansion if it stays fun to write. Fun is what I’m focusing on for now, but I expect to publish this story in January. More info, such as the cover and title and series title, will come after the editing stage.

I’m still working on Spectrum Blade, but I want that series to be complete before it starts going out, since its pieces can’t stand alone like TSW can. So for now, the schedule looks like TSW first–and maybe its sequel, if I write it–then the Snakesblood Saga, then Spectrum Blade.

It felt good to write something again, though I’m back to revising and rewriting now. The third book in my epic saga is about 2/3rds done, which means I’m about to hit the hard part. But things are finally moving again. Most importantly, it feels good to have completed something again.

I think I’d forgotten what that felt like.

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