It’s been thirty days since my last blog post, which is the longest I ever go between posts. I’ve written at least one post per month since June 2013, and I want to keep that record going as long as I can.
You may think it’s because I loved Iron Prince so much that I wanted to give everybody a chance to see it, but the reality is more selfish: I’ve been putting off writing this post.
What you’re reading now is the longest and most personal version of this story, but I’ve written shorter versions on Facebook and Reddit. If you only have ten seconds before you have to turn and fire your pistol, check there.
Here’s the deal: I’m taking the first three months of 2021 off work.
I’ve already gotten pretty far into Bloodline, but I’m not done yet. I was hoping to be finished by now, but I’m not. And I need a break.
So I’ll keep working on the book this month, but after that, I’ll be heading off to regions unknown.
“Regions Unknown” is what I call my gaming PC.
I’ve covered the highlights on my other social media pages, but I’m about to dig into my journey here. Content warning for those of you sensitive to personal details, recapping, and/or sincerity.
Ready? Off we go…
First, let’s back up to Summer, 2019. I threw out my back-ish, neck-ish, shoulder-ish area.
Anatomy is not a required subject for a Creative Writing degree.
Because of that, I was lying flat on my back for a week, and it ended up resulting in two weeks of lost writing time. During that experience, I learned that I had caused my injury by “being on a computer all day every day” and “never taking any breaks” and “having the posture of a twisted little goblin.”
So I added stretches and exercises into my routine, and I began taking regular breaks throughout the day.
About half a year later, in January of this year, I pulled my neck-ish thingy again.
This time, it resulted in essentially a month of not-writing-Elder-Empire.
I had to take it up a notch. I significantly increased my exercise, physical therapy, and visits to the mysterious healing fairy who lives in the spring behind my house.
That’s honestly working great, and I’ve been much better since then. I literally didn’t think it was possible for me to write books while taking a break every 1-2 hours, but you’d be amazed what you can accomplish when you train a pack of gibbons to run howling into the room and haul you from the keyboard every hour on the hour.
But no matter how much stretching and exercise you do, you can’t out-stretch a twelve-hour writing marathon every day for eight weeks at a time.
Physically, I need a break.
I’m really not in bad shape (I mean, in regards to this injury. In general, I’m in slightly worse shape than the Pillsbury Dough Boy), so this isn’t a plea for sympathy or anything. I just figure an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and I need to ease off the gas pedal before this BECOMES a real chronic problem in a few years.
And now my favorite subject: emotions.
I didn’t talk about this at the time because I didn’t want people deciding ahead of time these books were going to suck, and I haven’t talked about it since then because sincere expression of emotion burns me like elf-crafts burn Gollum, but the process of writing OKAK sucked.
I’m proud of the result, and I think I ended Elder Empire well. But the experience of writing the books was miserable, from the first week to the last.
It had been too long since I’d written the last pair, and I had zero remaining vision for the books, so I had to start from scratch (not literally, but it felt that way).
On top of that, I had set so many things up that I had to be very careful not to violate any established facts in a canon I hadn’t visited for five years. Which just…kills my passion. I hate having to nitpick every little detail and make sure everything’s in the right place. It feels like the opposite of creativity to me.
On top of the top of that top, I wrote these books really quickly so I wouldn’t have to delay Cradle too much. But they’re impossible to write “fast,” so it just meant strings of long days.
And on top of THAT, Elder Empire has always been really hard to write.
However, people tend to think that an enjoyable writing process = an enjoyable reading process. Not true. I feel like the books turned out really well, and the reviews seem to agree with that.
Speaking of great reviews, that brings me to Wintersteel.
As you know, Lindon is the money-maker ‘round these parts, and Elder Empire delayed me by quite a few months. Without even having the grace to pay the bills for that time.
So I was running late on Cradle, and I had to jam out a sequel ASAP. Using a new process that I hadn’t ever tried before.
Fortunately, that process worked, but at that point it had been almost a year since I wrote Uncrowned. Details had leaked out of my head, and in the beta reading process, we caught several plot mistakes and causality violations, even up to the day before turning the manuscript into Audible.
Meaning I not only pushed the book out as quickly as I was capable of doing it, but the editing also took more work than usual.
Then after that, I immediately moved on to Bloodline, because I was initially trying to finish it before I took a break. (Sorry.)
All that to say I’m tired. I’m really tired, guys.
When I first started writing, as I’ve told you before, I didn’t know how long I was going to be able to write for a living, so I kept the books a-coming to keep the lights on.
Then, during 2015-2016—the Elder Empire Era—I couldn’t stop because I wasn’t making enough money to live on.
It wasn’t until after Soulsmith, or maybe Blackflame, that I could potentially take a long break like this one. And I still had OKAK dangling over my head, plus I didn’t want to hang you out to dry with no Cradle book for too long.
Now OKAK is finished at last, and if you have to hang on something, at least Wintersteel is a pretty comfortable hook.
Finally, I’ve always wished people could take more time off just to take care of themselves.
I think it’s necessary. It’s a shame that so many people are in situations where they can’t ever afford time to rest…and even for those that can, it’s often treated as “wrong.” Like you’re letting everybody down by taking a serious break.
But I’m fortunate enough to finally be in a situation where I can take such a break, so I’m gonna put my money where my mouth is.
If I’m going to be releasing books steadily for the rest of my career, which I certainly intend to, then I need to either slow down or take a longer break (like this one) every few years.
And who wants to slow down?
Speaking of which, we’re still on track to release Bloodline and one other book in 2021. Same two books as usual, or I wouldn’t be taking a break at all.
And it’s not like I’ll be gone completely for three months. I’ll still be checking social media here and there, and I plan to continue my one-to-four-posts-a-month blog schedule.
Gotta keep that perfect attendance record.
For those of you who made it to the bottom of this news that, I know, will come as a disappointment to many of you: thanks as usual—and as always—for reading!
This book has been out forever at this point.
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