It’s better to burn out than fade away.
I burned out.
After Beyond Redemption sold to Harper Voyager I threw myself at writing. I wrote Swarm and Steel first. I needed a break from the characters of BR but still wanted to play in that world. With the first draft of that finished, I figured I should probably write the sequel to Beyond Redemption because, duh, look at all those amazing reviews! Of course Harper Voyager will want more! And so, with S&S still is pretty rough shape, I wrote The Mirror’s Truth.
As Y’all know by now HV passed on TMT, saying that sales didn’t warrant investing in a sequel. Cameron, my agent, shopped it around. Unfortunately publishers aren’t much interested in buying the sequel to a book held by another publisher. I was faced with a choice: Shelf the book in the hopes that someday BR would sell enough someone would want the sequel (it still hasn’t) or publish it myself. Seeing as it’s out there and all self-published and stuff, I figure you know what I chose. Patience was never my strength.
There are authors who write great first drafts. Mark Lawrence is one of those. We won’t hate him for being talented, though he does offer another explanation here, which I found interesting. I read that and had a moment of Why couldn’t I have been born dyslexic! Then I smacked myself for being a twit. Anyway, the point of that aside is that I am not one of those authors. My first drafts are puke-inducing. I do a lot of editing, and a lot of rewriting. By the time a perspective publisher sees a novel, there’s not usually much to do…except fix a billion typos, correct mangled grammar, add comas where I ignored them, delete comas where I went nuts, and cull about 98% of my semicolons.
I can write a book in three or four months, if given enough alone time. That book will need at least as much editing before it’s ready for beta-readers. Oh Lordy pity my alpha-reader. That dude sees first drafts of everything and somehow hasn’t plucked his eyes from his skull. The point is, I spend a lot of time editing my stuff. Really a lot.
I was somewhere in the middle of editing TMT when the folks at Skyhorse/Nightshade Books/Talos bought Swarm and Steel. As I recall, they purchased it based on my synopsis (insane rambling), blurb (excited insane rambling), and the first chapter which I’d edited before we sent it out. The rest of the book was a disaster. I promptly changed gears and dove into editing that beast instead. It went through many iterations. Each time I thought it was ready I sent it to Cameron. She picked it apart, asked difficult questions (the best was “what does this character really want? which triggered massive changes once I understood that character’s motivation), and sent it back.
The day we submitted the finished manuscript to Talos, I returned to editing The Mirror’s Truth. Somewhere in there the rights to my first novel, 88, were reverted to me by the awesome folks at Five Rivers Publishing. The day I uploaded the final manuscript for TMT to Amazon and Createspace, I began work on editing and rewriting 88. I recently released the reworked 88 as Ghosts of Tomorrow.
Here ends what amounts to damned near a year of editing. I wrote no new original fiction in that time with the exception of a single short story, The Broken Dead, for the Evil is a Matter of Perspective anthology.
Did I take a breather?
I uploaded the final Ghosts of Tomorrow files on February 24th, 2017. The next day I began work on a new book. We’ll call this CoS:LBiS for now because I’m not ready to share the name. I finished the first draft of that novel in early April. It took about two and a half months to write. I hand wrote this one–something new for me. I’m still in the process of transcribing it onto the computer. It, like all my first drafts, is a vomitous stain.
The day after I finished CoS:LBiS I tried to write a short story for Grimdark Magazine. After a week and three attempts, I gave up. Then I decided to start work on the sequel to Ghosts of Tomorrow. I have now written the first chapter three times. They all stink.
Ah. And here is where we came in.
I’m burned out.
I need to stop for a while.
The other day someone on facebook mentioned that Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, reads big door-stopper genre fiction. I had this moment of anger. How the hell can the goddamn Prime Minister have time to read but I can’t?
I realized I was the problem.
I am two or three books behind on all my favourite authors. I haven’t even read Wheel of Osheim yet! Just let that sink in.
A couple of days ago I picked up the ARC of Brian Staveley’s Skullsworn. I only had a few minutes of reading time. It’s so good. So very, very good. Reading made me happy again, took me away. Yesterday I stole a few more minutes of reading. More happy.
I know what I have to do.
I’m going to read a book. Maybe two. During that time I shall make no attempt at writing.
Once I feel like a reader again, I shall return to writing. I need this.
Burn out is no fun and I’d rather not fade away.
This post is likely rife with errors as I can not be bothered to edit it.