Current Status: Editing
The Burdened Boy
Drawchilde: Book I
A Stefani Wilder Novel
complete at 94,000 words
The General's Dragon
Drawchilde: Book III
200,000 of 200,000 words
A Stefani Wilder Novel
A Novella of Bydaira
1,400 of 32,000 words
Demigods (working title)
standalone fantasy novel
14,000 of 250,000 words
The Panther's Girl
Drawchilde: Book II
complete at 200,000 words
About ten years ago, I read On Writing by Stephen King. At the time I'd actually read very little of his fiction. But I heard about the book and got pretty interested in the way he talked about writing. I picked it up and read the whole thing in less than a day. It completely changed the way I perceived myself as a writer.
I thought I'd written a lot at that point. But as he put it so succinctly, "The first million words are practice."
Naturally, the first thing I did upon reading that was create a spreadsheet to count up my words. Even including every scrap of writing I could find, I had not written a million words. Not even close. I was 26. I'd done a degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing but suddenly I understood I had a long way to go before I was done being a rookie.
It was a freeing realization. At the time I was mired in endless revisions and querying a book I'd been working on for years. I put that aside and set out to just write. I wrote and rewrote a number of new novels in different genres. When my total word count was up to about 1.5 million, I began to play with publishing. I started with an experimental novel that is no longer in print. After that came my Bydaira novellas. Then came my Stefani Wilder project.
What I've discovered is that sharing my work is much harder for me than creating it. Despite good feedback, good reviews, a slowly growing base of loyal fans, and modest sales, I go through phases where I just have no energy for the publishing part of this whole venture. The part I love is the writing. So I tend to hide in that process when the other aspects of being an author start to feel fatiguing.
Raw output became how I measured my productivity. My rough lifetime word count is now around 2.8 million. Which means at this moment in time, I have 13 full-length, complete novels sitting on my hard drive. They all need rewriting and editing, but not that much. At least half of them could be ready for an editor with just a couple weeks of effort from me. Somehow, though, I always find an excuse not to take that step.
Over the last many years, I've read a lot of Seth Godin's work. His blog, in particular, is a daily breath of fresh air on an internet obsessed with all the wrong things. His podcast is great too. In a recent episode, he told his listeners to stop hoarding. He says this in one way or another all the time. But up until now, I let the message slide by unnoticed.
That day, his words felt very on point to me. I've done all this work. Why haven't I shared it yet?
Even before hearing that episode, I'd been thinking of making this year different. So now my tentative goal is to make 2019 about finishing and releasing some of this backlog. In an ideal world, this would mean getting three of my Laeronyll novels rewritten, the third finished, and the first one fully edited and published by the end of the year. Next year, I'll write the fourth (and last in the series), then release the rest of the series on a schedule of 1-2 a year. By the time I'm done, this will be over 900,000 words of epic fantasy in the hands of my readers.
I'll admit it, though. This is hard. Everything I've published up until this point was in the spirit of learning, trying out weird things, or sort of having a lark. The 13 novels I haven't published are different. They're my best work. They are where the bulk of my creative energy has been going for almost a decade.
It's hard to think of letting them go. But I'm going go try to leap.
We'll see if I make it.