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Let's talk about why writing is weird.

Writing is a weird business. It's especially weird as an indie author, because it's not only writing that you need to do. Marketing, social media, website development, store manager, agent; they're all wrapped up in one big package. I can see why people burn out in this endeavor.


I think that's my problem. I think that's where I'm at, in this current moment. Burn out.


PsyConics took nearly two years to write, partially because the pandemic changed the entire world for a year of it, and partially because I was trying to find myself in my writing. Find my routine. Explore possible paths to finishing an entire novel, which at the time I hadn't done yet. It was a learning experience across the board, and it was useful and draining and needed all at the same time.


The Path of the Divine Order was easier. The idea morphed into something I didn't expect, but at each turn I was drawn into it more, enchanted by the story that was forming in front of me. It was done in a year, and I felt like I could keep that up. That would be the pace. A book a year was a solid release schedule.


Bound To Parish came out of me at a blazing speed. First draft finished in three months, second draft finished three months later. After the edit, the third draft in two. I cruised through it.


Looking back on each of these novels, it strikes me that what I remember from them is the finished product, the release, the feedback and reviews. The part I seem to block out of my head is the struggle that it took to write the damn thing in the first place. With BTP, the struggle is a bit more prominent in my head still, the posts made about lacking motivation, the feeling that I'll never finish, the imposter syndrome of wanting it to be a good story that people enjoy. It's foggy, a distant memory floating at the horizon line of the sea, but it's there.


In the past month, I've struggled with writing. I pushed myself hard to get BTP finished and polished and out to everyone. I pushed to set up a store to sell signed copies. I pushed to market as much as I could. I spent nearly a month shouting from all the metaphorical rooftops that the book was out and that people should read it.


And it worked to some extent. It's no national bestseller (yet), but in two months of being out it's gained nearly 60 reviews on Amazon, another 20 on Goodreads, and is still getting reads today without any active marketing running at the moment. It's been well received and I've even sold a few signed copies to people that seem to like it. I even sold one to someone from almost the exact setting I was trying to convey, and they enjoyed it as well.


I don't know what it is about Louisiana that holds so closely to my heart, but it sticks with me.


All of this makes writing the next book difficult.


I've always been one to "write what I'd like to read", which is classic writing advice. Don't write to market (unless that's your entire strategy), don't write what you think readers want (because it won't come off with the passion you want), write what you'd like to read (because the love for it will show on the page and also you'll be reading it 900 times for revisions). I've always done this, knowing that I'm a small author out among the sea, hoping for some people to read and enjoy the stories. I write because I've always wanted to. I write because I know the joy that books can bring, and I know how they've helped me through life.


For the first time, I'm at a crossroads. BTP did well enough, and garnered enough positive feedback that I'm looking at writing a sequel. I'm thinking of the fans of BTP and hoping that continuing the story will bring them back along with bringing in more. Series writing has always been the key to developing readership (so "they" say) and it's a good business decision. I also would enjoy diving back into the world, following Alphonse around a bit more, seeing him get sucked into another case.


At the same time, something about it feel disingenuous. I feel like I'm following the trend, trying to ride the "success" of BTP. I have other ideas, ideas that I'd like to explore just as much, but in my few, futile attempts at them, they haven't grabbed me. I have a BTP sequel that I've fiddled with a bit, but I'm scared of getting something wrong, of crafting a story that doesn't hold the emotional weight or depth that BTP managed to cling to. Something that won't be nearly as gripping, compelling, or loved.


Even with the meager amount BTP gained, I feel like I finally understand "suffering from success". It's the fear of not living up to the previous thing. With each book, I've managed to continue growing and learning and developing, and now I'm worried that the next book may not be as good at BTP.


That's the crux of the issue. That's the problem I'm trying to face now.


I've taken the last month to basically step back from writing. Stopped trying to force myself to come up with something amazing, stopped trying to think in terms of finishing the next book, stopped trying to coax my brain into coming up with ideas at all hours of the day. "Even if I'm not actively writing, I'm actively working toward something," I told myself. In the end, I think it was hurting more than helping, and trying to force it wasn't going to happen.


I've spent the last two weeks playing video games on the weekend, finishing up some books I've bought, looking to start others. Watching movies. TV shows. Doing whatever I can to step back from the book, writing, and the churn of coming up with the next story. Of course, my brain has still rumbling in the background, but I've been ignoring it, letting it do its thing.


Finally, I'm starting to feel the call to the paper again. I'm getting to the point where I want to write. I want to dive into something. That's what I need. While a lot of writing is finding a schedule and sticking to it, getting at least some words a day, making slow and steady progress until that first draft is done, motivation still plays a big factor. Of course, you can't finish a novel writing when motivation strikes alone, but I think to start one, you need that kick.


Motivation starts the process, dedication finishes it.


And with that wisdom, I think I'll go capture this motivation.


-Dave


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