I’ve been working on this book (a short story that turned into a novella that decided it wants to be a novel) for a few months, now. What I thought would finish up around 5000 words is on pace to end up a ten times that. I still don’t know if it all holds together, and I don’t know how much of it will survive the rewrite, but it’s been the primary creative focus of my life for a long time.
I recently hit a serious emotional beat in the story that affected me as much as it affected the characters, and I needed to get a little bit of distance from it, so I can come back to it and finish it by the end of the year. That was about a month ago, I guess. Maybe more like five or six weeks. Anyway, I had this other idea for a short, supernatural horror story on the board, so I started writing that, with the hope that I would finish it in time to be published before Halloween. That also took off and got a little longer than I had intended, but if I can focus and stay committed, I should finish the first draft by the end of this week.
I’m writing both of these things (and the other book of short stories they came out of) essentially on spec, because I don’t know if I’ll try to sell them to a publisher or self-publish them. Because of that, it feels like I don’t have a real job right now (and I know there are a lot of folks out there who will say that any kind of artist isn’t doing a real job anyway, and I’d like to invite them to fuck off).
There’s a fundamental rule for first drafts that I think I got from Stephen King: write it with the door closed. Don’t let anyone see it until it’s done, because it needs to be raw and broken and rough and even bad in places so that it can just get finished. Go ahead and open the door after the first rewrite. That’s solid and good advice that is one of my unbreakable rules, and it serves me well for staying motivated and giving myself the freedom to just get to work and write without judgement. But it’s also kind of lonely. It’s like performing to an empty theater.
Even though I’ve been productive and I’m making lots of stuff, I haven’t had the opportunity to interact with an audience for a long time, and I’ve missed that. So last night, I had this dumb idea to get onto my Twitch channel, read a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and ask the people who were watching to make the choices. We did Inside UFO 54-40 and The Race Forever. I think about 200 people showed up (not bad, considering the short notice), and holy hell did we have fun. It was this great community experience, and I liked it so much, I’m going to try to make it a regular thing.
So if you showed up last night, thank you. I needed the break from the fucking nightmare we’re all living in right now, and I got it. I hope you got it, too.