The January gear shift

After I talked about my progress on Spectrum Blade last week, I took some time to reflect on what I was doing and what I should prioritize. It’s not the same as changing my plans, but changing what I’m working on right this minute. I made some great progress on the book, so it was tough to reevaluate the direction I’m moving. I’m now more than 30,000 words into the first draft of Spectrum Blade, but as I write, I’m seeing the book will be a lot longer than I initially planned. Probably closer to 100,000 words than the 75,000 I was originally shooting for. Which, that’s fine–epics are my thing, and 75k was too short for anything with the potential to be an epic anyway.

But watching the project expand also meant coming to understand that I was probably focusing on the wrong thing. While writing the first Spectrum book has been a blast and has done a lot for rekindling my love of words, it also doesn’t make sense to devote all my energy to a series that won’t be published for a long time… especially while I have an unfinished six-book series sitting on my desk, which I intend to see published before Spectrum is ready for the world. The Snakesblood Saga needs to be finished, and I’ve put it off for years too long.

The original plan was to write and edit the two projects alongside one another, but that was before I knew how little time I’d have as we prepared our house for sale and hunted for a new one. I think the biggest reason I prioritized Spectrum was because it’s easier to quantify progress when I can look back and see a clear word count showing what I’ve done. I’m going from zero to story, as opposed to editing, where I can spend hours trying to work out what’s wrong with one particular page in a 300-page story.

I’ve since reminded myself that editing still counts as writing, even if I don’t have an exact word count to track at the end of each day. If I’m editing and rewriting, why wouldn’t it count as writing? I can track the number of pages I’ve edited, since I can’t always edit a full chapter each day. That’s still preparing content, and as I work through Serpent’s Tears again I can see it will be growing a lot. There were so many things that I cut before, trying to keep the book short enough that agents wouldn’t immediately turn up their noses at the word count. Well, that was a mistake, and I’m glad I’ve gone back to make the books what they originally should have been. There was so much nuance and subtext that vanished, and now I’m spending a lot of time putting it back where it belongs.

I think my revised goals for this year will be focusing on the Snakesblood books, pushing Spectrum to the back burner for a little while. For now, I’ll be focusing on editing, counting up the pages and considering the word counts of those pages to be my words of work. Moving on. New day dawning.

Rosy sunrise, painting by Beth Alvarez

Speaking of dawning, I gave myself permission to work on my 4th and 5th paintings this past week. I had a lot of fun, and I’m starting to expand my color palette. The above image was still only four–ultramarine blue, cad yellow medium, cad red deep, and titanium white–but I used some shades of green in my 5th, and I’ll talk a bit about that painting when I put it up next week. My birthday was on Saturday, and Joe gave me an awesome set of acrylic paints. I haven’t used them yet, since I’d gotten myself a cheap set that I want to use up first, but I’m looking forward to giving them a try. I’m going to start incorporating buildings in my paintings soon, to see if I can work up to doing fantasy book covers or something like that.

Word counts for this week:
Monday: 758 (Spectrum Blade)
Tuesday: 305 (Spectrum Blade)
Wednesday: 151 (Spectrum Blade)
Thursday: Edited 6 pages
Friday: Edited 8 pages
Saturday: Edited 3 pages
Sunday: Rewrote 3.5 pages

Total for Spectrum Blade: 1,214
Total for Serpent’s Tears: 20.5 pages (7,161 words)

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