Now that The Grasp of Time is published, I’m taking a break.
Except for marketing (and maybe an occasional short story when inspired), I’m taking a break from working on my projects until January. In the last year, I self-published four books, five, if you count the one written under a pseudonym on New Year’s. (No, I’m not telling you here what it is. It’s adults only, anyway.)
Four–or five– in a year might not seem like much to folks like Nora Roberts, R. L. Stein, or Chuck Tingle, but it’s a lot for a homeschooling parent with other obligations outside her career. Almost all of the time I can dedicate to work takes place during kids classes and after the little one is in bed, which means I’m up and tired, and then running on less sleep the next day.
Now, I didn’t write all those books in one year (don’t write four books in a year unless you’re just creating raw drafts for future editing). They were all shaped over years, or worked on in bits and pieces, until I decided to make them a priority and put them forth.
Perdition’s first chapter was written in 2002, and I set it aside for years before working hard on the first 60,000 pages, when I burnt out, and set it aside again. It was my mother’s favorite, and she urged me to publish it first. The Grasp of Time started as a one-on-one, custom RPG between my then-partner and I back in 1998! I wrote down what I could remember after nine months of playing, and we went back and forth on it, but then Robin and I broke up. It wasn’t until the summer of 2009 when we reconnected that we talked about reviving the story. We wrote the draft together in three weeks via chat and private, online journals. It kept getting set aside for other projects–and life–between drafts until we revised it again. We wrote the first draft of its sequel, Seal Breaker, a week after finishing the first draft of TGoT, though, and continued to build on it.
There’s a book I wish to finish in the future about a lesser known mythical figure that I started in 2003, but the main character’s name is Eleven, which is problematic now that Stranger Things is rocking the horror-watching world. The first draft is incomplete at about 50,000 words.
As for my other books this year, Aranya comes five years after my second poetry collection, and it came eleven years after my first. These things take time. Even the book I published on New Year’s Day is simply an edited collection of five years of writing.
Regardless of the amount of work and effort and late nights, it was worth it. I met two of my writing goals, one of them to publish (not write) four books this year. It meant sacrifice of my time, limited funds, and a chronic lack of sleep, but it’s done.
I haven’t decided which projects will be slated for next year. Certainly Seal Breaker shows strong promise of coming out around the same time next year as its predecessor, but sorry, Perdition fans, Purgatory might take more time. I’m treading into territory that’s not my own (i.e. culturally and geographically), and will likely need to hire two cultural consultants to ensure my privilege isn’t blinding me. The third book, at least, will take place on more familiar ground, but …
For the next month, I’m going to focus on marketing, cleaning up both my physical and digital clutter, and spending time with my family through the winter holidays. Robin and I are also working on a simple web site dedicated to the Amakai series (a.k.a. Eila books, including The Grasp of Time) right now, which we hope to make public early next year.
So, take the above author’s advice, and my experience, and don’t publish four books in a year. However, one of my all time favorite authors, Catherynne M. Valente, can tell you How to Write a Novel in 30 Days. It also helps to have at least one lap cat to make the writing as much of a physical challenge as a mental one.