The short statement:
I’m planning to cancel my last two pre-orders (Monstrous Hunger and Blizzard Bound). They both will still be published but I am not going to commit to a date. Side effect: I won’t be able to have pre-orders again for a year. And that’s ok.
The longer discussion behind this decision:
I’ve written a lot about my process. There are several posts (here and here) about the retrospectives I do once I finish a book. I try to learn from each book and fine-tune my process with the goal of writing faster with the same high quality book that you’ve come to expect from me. I stated early on that 2022 would be the year of finishing up loose ends with the goal of getting back to Shara’s world. I 100% committed to finishing Her Irish Treasures, and I did complete both Leprechauned and Evil Eyed this year. Though they took me much longer than I intended.
Why is that? When I’ve been making all these constant changes to improve my process?
I’m a thinker, a strategist, and sometimes, very analytical. I write code for the Evil Day Job and have a Masters in Mathematics. But I’m also a creative, a dreamer, and a visionary at heart. Sometimes those things work well together–and sometimes they don’t. The analyst keeps looking at my stats and scratching my head. What’s going on here?
WHY AM I GETTING SLOWER?
I’m not burned out. I’m not blocked.
I know my personality type. I thrive on deadline stress. I love impossible deadlines and challenges. Setting a pre-order seemed like it would be the ticking bomb that my brain needs to kick into high gear and get the job done. And yeah, sometimes that has worked over the last few years. But… Sometimes it hasn’t. The gear hasn’t been there when I tried to shift.
We’ve been over all the personal stuff that has been going on with the divorce, plus moving and pandemic and all the other stressors. That might play some of a role in my general slowdown but this felt bigger.
Like I was missing something. Something crucial.
So I decided to do a retrospective of my retrospectives. The biggest takeaway from those other retrospectives was that when I shift gears to other projects, I noted that the original project took a hit, and when I picked it back up, I had to build back up to a reasonable speed. Therefore, I determined that the best way to overcome context switching between worlds/books/characters was to stick to the same series and just finish it.
Makes sense, right? And I did that with Her Irish Treasures as much as possible, especially Evil Eyed and now Dynosauros. And Evil Eyed was so slow that it took me an additional 2 months longer than I originally planned.
I know what I’m capable of. I have written 50-70k in a month before when the wheels are spinning and the words are flowing with minimal editing needed (e.g. they weren’t throwaway drafts but solid work). Yet there have been months this year where it’s like pulling teeth to get 10k.
I have often referred to my writer personality as a horse (this post is old but parts still hold true). The urge to run wild and free is always there. Even in the middle of a blizzard, my horse wants to leave the nice warm stable. Lately, Beauty has been feeling like an old, worn-out plow horse. Just pulling the plow in nice straight rows, day after day. The plow sinks a little deeper into the ground. Becomes a little harder to pull. The field needs to be plowed, though. The work must be done. But she can’t help but wonder where the joy went, and if it’s possible to get it back. Why does it have to be so heavy?
And I realized today after doing some more meditation and journaling on the matter, that the answer has been in my retrospectives all along. Sometimes a strength can be a weakness. And sometimes a weakness can be a strength.
What if… the work that I took a break from was actually slowing down regardless of the break? What if that break to another project was exactly what my muse needed to do in order to re-energize and find light again? What if instead of beating myself up for switching projects and trying to “fix it” – I actually embrace the need to switch to something else as a strength?
What if switching projects is one of the key things that has helped me finish as many books as I do?
So I decided to embrace the switch. I have a short story that I committed for a BookFunnel anthology that I need to write. I WANT TO WRITE – you’ll see why. I actually dreamed about it (which is huge for me when the subconscious is working on the story for me). And instead of working on it then, I made myself write down the dream and then keep plugging away on Monstrous Hunger.
There’s nothing wrong with Monstrous Hunger. I love the story. I love the characters. But writing it is heavy and slow right now. It shouldn’t be. At all. This is a fun, over the top crazy story with dinosaur monsters, interesting peens, and all the shenanigans of a good sexy romp. But I have been plodding and plodding for days. Since the beginning of October, my sprint average has decreased by almost 20% and still sliding. With the deadline just around the corner, that is the opposite of what I want to happen. I need to be hitting my stride and cruising at my best speed.
As soon as I made the decision to set this book aside, I went to work on the short story. I decided to read the beginning of Queen Takes Knights to remind myself of what was happening when Shara first meets Rik and Daire. After all, I wrote that book 5 years ago this month.
And I started to cry.
It was like coming home.
There is the emotion and joy that I have been searching for. And when it’s time, and I feel that the well is full of joy again, I’ll come back to finish up the dinosaur romp.
And it’ll be even better than I ever envisioned.
Commence kicking down the stall in three… two… one.
Go. Run. Be free.