Quiet of Late

I haven’t been blogging much of late. Truth be told, I haven’t been doing much of anything worthy of a blog post. I’ve been reading a lot, or at least trying to. I’m half way through the Fall of the Malazan Empire, a read through that’s been both rough at times (it is long), fulfilling at others. As promised, I’ve been taking breaks reading non-fiction, but also some other books. If you follow me on Goodreads, you know what I’ve been up to (mostly).

Of writing, though, there hasn’t been much to say. For a while, I was going through a “poor me” phase. To say my books aren’t selling is an understatement.

I realize, as does the astute reader, that this is the turning point. This is either where I throw in the towel, declare it a good run while it lasted, and walk away, or this is where I rally again.

Honestly, I hate giving up. In no small part because I made a promise with Chrysalis that there would be a sequel. A few weeks ago, I dusted off the draft I’d been working on and began giving it a thorough revision. My aim is not to drop too much, but to fix what needs corrections, patch up the parts that are just giant leaps of narrative, and then finish the novel. I’ve added about 10k words in the last week, which all things considered has a nice feeling.

This may also be the last time I pull out an old project and try to repair it.

My problem is that I have historically written without a solid plan for the story I’m working on. So called “pantsing” is great, and a lot of successful writers do it. But I’m not a successful writer, and it has bitten me far more often than it has helped me. Because for every exhilarating writing session of discovering something new in my story, there are all of the other times where the story falls flat and gets shelved. How many times have I pulled out my epic fantasy and “given it another go?” More often then I’ve recorded in this blog, that much I know.

The problem I am discovering is that I don’t like letting go of what I’ve written in the past. My creative bursts gift me with a typical 40-60k word chunk of narrative before I run out of steam. But once that steam is gone, I don’t know where to go and shelve the project until the next time I get a bite. Over, and over, and over.

Finishing Mermaid’s Tears will be the end of that cycle. I hope to have the first draft done by this summer, at which point I will reach out to a few beta readers that have been great to me in the past. Then I plan on buckling down and planning out a novel from the very beginning. No more recycling, no more reusing. All new, all fresh. And all planned.

In addition, I’ve pulled my two books from Kindle Select and redistributed them across multiple platforms. I’ve had zero sales since the initial release of Chrysalis. Because of that, I decided rather that if I was going to have zero sales, I might as well spread that across multiple booksellers. Effective a few weeks ago, you can find my books on Amazon, as well as Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and a half dozen other ebook sellers (links at the bottom of this post).

Meanwhile, it’s a cloudy Saturday here in Oregon, and I have a ton of errands to take care of before I take my eldest daughter to her last behind the wheel class before her test next week. Have a good weekend!

A Scent of Roses

Chrysalis

The state of the writer at the close of 2017

This post is about writing in 2017. I want to make that clear, because writing aside, 2017 was a pretty great year for me. The family prospered, we’re happy, well taken care of, and all in all in a good place right now.

But for writing, 2017 sucked in many, many ways.

I had high hopes for the year. In 2016, I played with self publishing a novel, and for what I put into it, had some pretty good returns. Such is hubris. In 2017, I put a book out that I thought was good; it was copyedited, it was cleaned, it was a story I enjoyed telling. I lined up advertising, promoted the book, etc.

It flopped, and it was pretty disheartening. Since that release, it’s been a real struggle to be motivated. We all know the stories of so-and-so who was met with repeated failures before they succeeded. It takes perseverance to keep going, and in 2017 I learned that I might not have it. Or maybe I do? We’re three days into 2018, and I do have a project I’m working on. No point in saying more than that at this point, but I haven’t given up the ghost just yet.

On the short story front, not much to be said. A story I sold in 2016 saw print this year, but otherwise it’s been a string of rejections. This doesn’t surprise me too much – the short stories I was sending out were, for the most part, written years before. Since I started focussing on longer length fiction, I haven’t written much in the way of short stories. Even so, I currently have a story out there waiting on feedback. It’s a big market that takes a while to reject, so I’m not hopeful.

2017: not a great year of writing. Here’s looking to 2018 and the promise of getting some words down.

 

A lack of written words is not a lack of desire

Monthly updates do not a good blog make. There are probably a few exceptions to that rule of thumb, such as sites that publish all of their articles in magazine format on a monthly basis, or the more successful review blogs. But for all intents and purposes, I know that it does me no good to not be blogging.

But it doesn’t stop there. In addition to not blogging, I haven’t been writing much lately either. It’s the season of NanoWriMo (and if you are participating this year, know that you have my support all the way – it’s a grueling but rewarding experience to even attempt it), but I’ve elected not to participate this year. “Ah,” my newsletter readers will assume, “surely that means you are wrapping up the next Niki Hunter book?”

Unfortunately, no, and that’s part of the problem. I’m about 40-50k into a draft, a fair chunk of writing under my belt, but I’m lacking the motivation to move forward on it. I’ve stepped back for now, and have asked my better half to take a read through and tell me if the story is even working. The problem is that I’m so close to it, I can’t tell if it’s working as a novel, or if it’s floundering about. When you write a novel, you keep so much of the story in your head as you write it that sometimes you fail to put it all down. So while you know the complete story, the reader is left with a disjointed account. Did that happen here? I’m not sure – that’s why I need a second opinion.

So what am I doing to fill the time?

Well, there’s been a lot of Breath of the Wild. My youngest and oldest and I are playing (independently, but trading shrine and challenge info), and that’s been a lot of fun. I really love being able to play a game on a handheld or on the TV without any break in continuity. I had the gold cartridge of the original Legend of Zelda, and it’s fun to see how far the game series has come since then.

I’ve also been working my way through my stamp collection again, the US issues in particular. I’m catching cataloging mistakes I made originally, which in some instance is disappointing, and others very exciting. Plus, it really is fun to have a hobby where all of your attention is focussed on something so completely non-digital it literally comes from another era. Of course, I’m not completely without my technical crutches – this time around I am scanning everything as I go so that I can make a database of what I have, condition, and estimated value. I’ve never actually taken the time to do a large scale audit of the collection, and what I’m finding is fascinating.

Finally, and I suspect it goes without say, my time has been filled a lot with work. I got a promotion this past summer, and the aftermath of that is more work to fill the nooks and crannies of life. We’ve been pretty busy since summer, and the fruits of those labors are starting to come out. Recently, we launched a longtime fan requested Favorite Folders, and there’s more where that came from.

So, to sum up: Michael has lots of things filling his time, very few of them are writing, mostly because he has a lack of faith in what he’s written to this point on the current novel.  Moving forward, I will return to Niki’s story…eventually. In the meantime, I may work another stalled project to get the mental juices flowing, but don’t be surprised to find me waxing philosophical on perforations and watermarks in the interim.