So Maybe Thursdays?

I’m still trying to work out when to post these things. Thursday is as good a day as any, I suspect. In any case…

I’ve now written 22 days in a row, which equals my longest streak since 2013. I last wrote 22 days in a row in 2014, which was basically the last time I felt really productive. I’m still not writing at a pace I would consider really productive, but every word added to the story is a word I don’t have to write any more. In other words, the story is getting longer, and for me, that’s all that matters at the moment.

I don’t know if you’ll ever see this particular story. It’s all seat of the pants writing. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I’m making up the world as I go. It’s an exercise in building a writing habit.

Once this story is done, I’ll be picking up work on something called Sorcerer’s Bane, which is a series I started to write several years ago (the genesis of the story actually came to me as part of an assignment during a writing workshop over a decade ago). The first book is already “complete”, in that it told it’s arc of the story, but I’m a different person than the person I was when I wrote it, and the story as written no longer fits with how I want the story told. So I’ll be rewriting it from scratch. I expect it will take a few months.

I’m on the fence about how I’ll release it – whether I’ll wait for them all to be finished, or if I’ll just release them as I finish them. I have a habit of not finishing series, and that’s a habit I want to break.

What I’m Reading

This week, I’ve been reading the Cradle series from Will Wight. I’m currently on Book 8: Wintersteel, and I’ll probably have the remaining available ones finished by next week. I’m not a book critic or a reviewer. But if I were, I would say that, for the right type of reader, they are fantastic. If you enjoy watching the protagonist struggle to improve himself again and again and again, these might be for you.

Two Weeks

I’m trying to decide when I’m going to post new posts. Friday is kind of an end of the week kind of thing, but Wednesday currently aligns well with some things, like my current writing streak. Also, most people aren’t checked out of their week on Wednesday, where I feel a lot of people are already off to start enjoying their weekend by Friday evening (which is when I would get around to posting this).

So, for this week, Wednesday.

And the big news this week? I’ve written fourteen days in a row, now, on a new story, and I can’t tell yet just what it’s going to be. I thought at first it was going to be this light-hearted girl meets boy thing, but it’s taken a darker turn than I anticipated, and now, I’m less sure what it is than I was three days ago.

There’s a lot of work that’ll need to be done, as having been gone so long from any sort of consistent writing practice has atrophied my skills a bit, I suspect. Or maybe I just have higher expectations than I did before. A lot of details will need to be filled in and adjusted, because I really am making this thing up as I go along, and sometimes, new thoughts that necessitate changes present themselves later than I would like.

I’m not busting down doors with word count right now. I’m mostly just relying on slow and steady every day progress. Enjoying the process, as it were. I’ve written more days this year, so far, than I did in all of 2021 and 2022 combined, and I’ve equaled the number of days that I wrote in 2020. Another two weeks, and I will beat 2019 and 2018.

I don’t have a word count goal. I just have a goal, each day, to sit down and write something. Anything. And to have fun with it. So far, so good.

Writing Again

It has been a long time, it turns out, since I wrote at any sort of consistent pace. I didn’t realize how long, until last night, after I finished writing for the 9th day in a row, and decided to have a look back at what my productivity has been like.

I have a spreadsheet that tracks my word counts all the way back to 2010, when I started work on Shattered. I can look at any day of any of those years and see how many words I wrote that day, plus totals and averages and all sorts of jazz.

I whipped out that spreadsheet, and started looking for sequences where I’ve written at least 9 days in a row. I looked at 2022, which was a wash. I didn’t write a single word in 2022. I only read, I think, 14 books in 2022, as well. 2021, I wrote roughly 9000 words of fiction across the whole year, but it was quite concentrated on 3 days in April of that year. I wrote almost the same amount in 2020, too, but this time, spread out in individual little pieces all throughout the year. And 2019? We don’t talk about 2019. Actually, 2019, started off really good, with 19k words in January, and then a bunch more in February, and then the hammer fell, and I wrote almost nothing for the rest of the year. Still, not 9 days in a row.

In fact, I had to go back to 2016 to find a stretch where I wrote more than 9 days in a row. I had no idea that it was that long ago. Nearly 7 years. That stretch was 20 days in a row, where I was finishing off an unreleased novel (which may yet someday see the light of day).

What’s the point? The point is, I guess, that I’ve been a mess, as far as writing goes, for a LOT longer than I thought. 9 days in a row isn’t breaking any records for me, nor is it even close to what I’ve done in the past (2012-2013, I wrote more than 365 days in a row), but compared to the recent past, it feels like a HUGE win.

I’m not pushing to hit some streak number (though the temptation is there). I’m not stressing about how much I’m writing, as I’ve decided to approach this with a “Did I write something? Yes? Good.” attitude. I’m enjoying it, and the beasts and demons that were keeping me away from writing appear to be in retreat.

I’ve worked really hard to get to the point where I can create art despite the negativity around me, where I can have fun when even the people closest to me want to tear me down or keep me from doing something I love. Am I always successful? No. But I’ve been successful 9 days in a row (despite having a cold for three of those days), and a story is slowly taking shape.

And that is a great thing.

Why

[I wrote the following a little more than a year ago, but never posted it. It’s difficult to believe I wrote it that long ago. Obviously, I’ve been dealing with some shit, and I’m still working on all that. I have nothing new to announce for the immediate future, but I felt this still needed to go out.]

Last night, I ran across a post on a writer forum about TrackerBox, mentioning that I’ve been basically uncommunicative, and haven’t updated TrackerBox in months.

The post is correct.

A few posts ago (6 months ago) I mentioned something about a book I was working on, and how it came to a stop. I never explained why. Six months ago, I thought I was getting back on track. It fell apart. About four months ago, I took TrackerBox off the market, and it is no longer for sale.

I’ve tried to sell TrackerBox to someone who could take care of it, and take care of all of you, but after I had a handshake deal with a guy, he ghosted me. This was in 2019, prior to the fun that was had in 2020 and beyond.

Why? Why did that book come to a screeching halt in 2019? Why did I try to sell of TrackerBox back then, and why am I still open to someone taking it off my hands, even now?

I’ve never said, never explained, and was hoping I’d never have to. I was hoping I could just pass it on, move on, and never have to answer questions about it ever again.

Obviously, things didn’t turn out that way.

So here’s as much of the story as I’m able to explain.

As of January, 2019, I had been out of work for nearly a year and a half. I had gone through phone interviews, never got called back. I’d been on in person interviews, and been told that my experience just doesn’t seem to fit. My income has primarily come from software development over the last 25 years, but I had worked on a lot of strange and weird systems that were no longer in vogue. I couldn’t get a job.

I decided to really try to push on the writing and just see if I could really push to generate an income from the books. And for a month, I was doing really well, making progress on the second book of the series, and looking forward to starting the third.

And then in February, my wife told me that she would leave me if I continued writing.

I’m not trying to throw her under the bus. She was stressed out, too, by my lack of work and wondering where our money was going to come from when it ran out. Looking back, I understand exactly where she was at in her mind and where she was coming from. It was not an easy time.

It’s now approaching three years from that event, and I’m still trying to put my brain back together from it. Needless to say, anything attached to writing, including visiting writing forums, visiting with my writer friends, working on writing software, and even just reading fiction became emotionally stressful and difficult, if not impossible to engage in.

It’s hard to explain how it feels, but for a long time, just the thought of anything related to writing invoked tightness across my shoulders, an unsettled feeling in my stomach, and a desire to just do anything else, even though writing was the thing I most wanted to do.

I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to keep up on TrackerBox, or on my “I’m writing again” announcements.

I have no announcements of future plans for anything, other than I hope something will happen with writing again in the near future. I’ve tried announcing stuff, in an effort to push me back in, but it hasn’t worked.

If someone knows someone who would like to take over TrackerBox, I’m more than happy to listen. I don’t really want much for it at all, other than a good home.

Oh, and six months after the event, I did find work, though not through any of my own efforts. An old client happened to call and ask if I could help him out. So much for job hunting.

writing and streaming

We seem to be on a Thursday update kick. Maybe I’ll keep it.

This week, nothing much exciting happened. I wrote a few thousand words on the new novel, and it seems to be coming along nicely. I’m not a full time author, so I only have a couple hours each day to work on it, and right now, while I’m starting out, I’m rethinking a lot of things I did on the original draft (which I’m mostly ignoring except for my memory of it). At some point, I expect the plot to diverge quite a bit, but I’m still writing “the setup”, and while there are a lot more scenes now in this new draft to get to the same point in the plot as the old one was after about two chapters, and probably three times the word count, the initial part of the book will follow essentially the same story, just in more detail and more depth.

In other news, well, there isn’t really any other news. And there probably won’t be a lot of other news, beyond a weekly updated on the progress of the book. I suppose you might be interested in checking out my music stream, but I suspect only a handful of you will enjoy it and come back after your first experience. You can catch me at https://twitch.tv/fourafterever this Saturday, probably around 4pm Pacific. It’s grunge/sludge/metal kind of stuff. Stop by and say Hi!

A New Direction for a new start

I know I said last week that I probably wouldn’t say more about what the next project is until I’ve got something to show, and I wasn’t going to say more, as I really wasn’t sure what it would be. I had a lot of options staring at me, clamoring for time, and whatever choice I made, it had to be something I was excited about writing.

It also had to satisfy some new ideas about the direction I want to go with my writing career. I’ll talk about them in the future, but it’s important, I think, for you to know that they exist just as context for the rest of this post. I’m not going to step out of speculative fiction or anything like that. It’s more like doubling down on the things that turn my crank.

Darned near six years ago, I started a new fantasy series, a sword & sorcery series that was going to be five books, all about the length of Mendleson Moony or Minders. Sixty thousand words and change, each. I planned to write them all as a set, and then release them once a month until they were all out.

I finished the first book, sent it to my alpha readers, and started on the second book. In the middle of this, all my life things that were going on at that time really put a crimp in the writing. I have two thirds of that second book complete. And it’s been that way since early 2019.

And then the writing came to a complete halt.

I’ve had it in my mind to finish that book out, then finish the series out, and release it as planned, so I started reading it all over again, trying to catch up. And as I was reading it, I kept running into things that I wish I had done differently. It wasn’t the kind of book, as written, that fit where I wanted to go. And if I had to match that for three and a third more books, I don’t know if I would have been able to complete the series.

And then, as if struck by lightning, it occurred to me last night that I could just rewrite the whole thing from the beginning so that it would fit my new criteria.

This morning, I wrote almost 2000 words of a new start of the first book of that series. I know you have no idea what it is, or what the goal for it is, but I’m excited about it, and I hope you will be, too. The first iteration really focused on one character in typical Sword & Sorcery style, but this new direction will expand the book quite a bit with more from the other characters, and is likely to have more of an Epic Fantasy feel. I expect it will at least double the first one in length, but that’s really only an estimate. There’s a very real possibility it will be even longer.

I’m excited about it. I hope you will be, too!