Indie author laments self-imposed deadline…

Blog_thinkingBack in September 2016 I published my first novel. It had taken me a long time to write Red Season Rising (henceforth known as RSR because I can’t be arsed typing it all). Nothing of that wailing mess made it through to the final product, barring a name here and there. Ultimately, I kicked off writing RSR in earnest in 2005, not long after leaving University, and whilst trying to forge a career in the world of the ‘day-job’ at the same time.

Over the course of eleven years, three companies, six jobs, three house moves, one engagement and one wedding, I somehow managed to string together enough combined time to write, edit, re-write, throw a tantrum, throw away chapters, and finally complete RSR. With cover art, formatting, and all the other administration that surrounds being an independent author completed, I got ready to pull the pin and toss my book-baby into the world.

But not before I got (understandably) whipped up in excitement at being about to publish!

Riding that sweet, giddy high, I decided, starting in October 2016, to give myself the ambitious target of writing and publishing the follow-up book by June 2017. Nine months. Loads of time. In fact, the most acceptable gestation period we as humans recognise.

It is, however, in looking back at RSR’s development, that I realise the howling error in my ambition! Sure, I was never going to take another 11 years to write book 2 (he says with a slight tremor of fear), but perhaps, nine months was a tad foolhardy!

The market share for indie fiction continues to grow, and is holding its own against ‘traditional’ publishing. This is down to the hard work of many excellent authors, who drum away on their keyboards or wield their pens in the moments harvested between full-time careers, family, and other life commitments. There is a colossal effort applied in continually feeding the beast – the need to write.

The great thing about the indie fiction community is that there is a real sense of camaraderie, and helpfulness about it. Many other authors have spoken openly about setting themselves deadlines, only to find that date slip by and fade off into the distance. But at the end of the day, as indies, we set our own deadline, and work our asses off to meet it. But as I said, sometimes, the deadline reluctantly comes and goes.

I am perpetually frustrated by the lack of time I believe I have to write. Working sixty hours a week leaves me with 108 hours. Factor in sleep (God, I love sleep), leaves me with 59 hours. Hudson needs walking, so I lose 14 hours, leaving 45 hours. Cooking, eating, cleaning (home and my decrepit carcass), exercise, reading, and most importantly of all, spending time with my beautiful and patient wife, leaves me with, urm, around about an hour(ish) a day. By that rough calculation, I should write every day. Shave off a few hours of sleep (*slaps face* don’t be silly), and I could even have more time to write.

So why then am I likely to miss my June deadline? Well, sometimes, you’ve just got to take the foot off the pedal, and ease up. I’m often reminded that I can be quite hard on myself, and sometimes take on too much. Over the course of the last couple of years, I realised that I yield no benefit from staring at a screen, lamenting my inability to join up words and make sentences. I just end up getting wound up and giving myself a hard time. So, with that in mind, I decided to have patience (not 11 years of patience), and let book 2 find its own way.

I’m not a neglectful or inattentive book-daddy, but instead, I have created the skeleton, and when the book is ready to apply flesh to the bones, then I sit down, and I write. That has resulted in fewer writing session, but with a much greater yield. Ultimately, a hectic work schedule and a busy home life, has meant I’m moving at a slower pace than I’d like, but casting my mind back to the development of RSR, reducing my book writing time from 11 years to anything close to 9 months is nothing short of a miracle!

At this point, book 2 is in the final furlong of its first draft, and is likely to clock in around the 150,000 words mark. Cover art will soon be developed, and before long, I hope to have a polished draft off to the editor. But it ain’t making it for June, that’s for sure! For those who may be awaiting book 2 (I hope I’m not speaking into the void here), my apologies for any delay!

I suppose in summary, this post has been me offering up excuses for missing my self-imposed deadline. But in writing it, what I have reminded myself of is how good it feels to be part of the indie author community, in that there are so many quality authors, with outstanding books out there, all of whom are supportive of their fellow authors, and offering wise words. Thanks to the motivation I yield from readers and other writers, I am now pretty comfortable with  saying that book 2 will not be with you in June, but it will be with you as soon as possible afterwards.

Now, time to get that scene written…what’s that Hudson? You need a walk?

D.M.

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