Friday, September 26, 2014

Long Time, No Write, and some changes in direction

It's been a long time. I think my new goal will be to post at least once a week. I'd become discouraged in the last year or so because just posting, "I'm very busy at my day job and can barely write" over and over again would be pretty pointless.

Things have changed a lot for me in recent months, mostly for the positive. The bottom line is for various reasons, I'm now free of my primary day job. Now, for various other reasons, this doesn't mean I get 100% time to write (for one thing I have children, and I'm heavily involved in editing for my wife), but I do have a lot more time to write.

I'd hoped to have the final book in the Osland Trilogy finished, but I'm only about half-done. I'm not going to give any firm projected times at this point other than "before the end of the year", as I just seem to be terrible about that, and it is unfair to my readers. We'll see more going forward if I can do a bit better about that.

I've had a lot of time to reflect, even during the periods where my writing was fairly limited. There's a lot of types of things that are perhaps a bit more idiosyncratic to my tastes that I've avoided working on because I've worried they weren't "commercial enough." Some of this is an artifact of me being more interested in traditional publishing before finally committing to self-publishing and worrying about what agents might want, but the bottom line is I don't know if I've truly devoted myself to writing the kind of books, in general, that please me versus a mix of my pure ideas and what I thought I "had to write" to get an audience.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like everything I've published, but in the back of my mind, I've always been tweaking characters, plots, set-up, et cetera with the idea that those tweaks would help with marketability. Not saying that's wrong, and for many authors, their natural writing inclinations just line up better with certain audiences, but for me, I think it's led to a muddled focus.

As a result, I think I've produced a number of books that aren't as strong as they could be, even if I did like them, and I feel they were good books overall. I've very grateful for the readers who have enjoyed my books, but, at the same time, I wonder if I've been robbing them of a better experience because I'm letting these doubts influence my writing process.

The main reason I started writing was to express my personal creativity. I wrote for years (mainly short stories) without any thought of publishing or even, to be honest, other readers than myself. Back when NaNoWriMo first started, I realized I did have it in me to write a novel with proper motivation.

Now, those early efforts were completely unreadable, but they were good practice for some of my later books, which judging by reader reactions, are at least somewhat readable.

So, where do we go from here?

Well, for one thing, I'm going to just write what I feel like without a particular concern about neatly fitting into certain genres or expectations. Honestly, this doesn't mean I'm going to be producing something all that transgressive, but more I'm trying to return to why I started writing in the first place.

What does this mean in terms of my future writing? A few things really.

I intend to finish the final book in the Osland Trilogy (about half-way through that), but I'm unlikely to have a follow-up to A WOMAN OF PROPER ACCOMPLISHMENTS. I do appreciate the readers who liked it (the admittedly small number, if we're being honesty), but I think it was an experiment that didn't quite come out the way I truly wanted, but still, it was worth doing.

I'll primarily be focusing mostly on pure non-YA fantasy in the foreseeable future. Now, I may mess with sub-genres a bit, but probably nothing as directly identifiable as, for example, pure romance (not that I won't have romantic elements) or pure mystery. Many of my books will continue to feature strong and intelligent female protagonists as well.

I'm doing research on a project of, uh, well limited commercial appeal. I've been burning for a while with the desire to write a suspense/thriller set in Heian Japan. Although I'm familiar with the general history of the period, there's a lot of research needed to get the fine details right. Of course, just doing the research has opened up more plot possibilities. Now, this project can't get started probably for a year or so due to the research requirements, but if I have a true "dream" project, that one probably is it.

My core process going forward, and starting in mid-October (because I'm on vacation for a bit), will involve me working on one core main novel and rotating through serials (probably bi-monthly serials).

A sequel will be coming for MIND CRAFTER, but I don't have a firm ETC for that yet. I originally started work on that earlier this summer, but became a bit disillusioned for various reasons, but I actually do believe in the series and want to keep going.

THE FINAL CITY, the last in the Osland Trilogy, will be the primary novel focus probably until the end of the year, maybe sooner depending on how quickly I can get it done.

Why the serials? This is not really because I think serials are the light at the way or whatever, but honestly just because I want to be able to write a lot of different things at the same time. I want to experiment to see what kind of stories I'm truly enjoying writing.

One of my problems has always been the surfeit of ideas swirling around. Writing serials are a way that I can scratch that itch.

On the other hand, I get that some people despise that format, so I'll be putting serials into collections probably every 6 or 7 episodes. With each episode being around 15,000 words or so, that means the collections will be a novel-length bundle of work, and I'll be organizing them accordingly.

So, here's my general plan for the next three months:

1) Blog once monthly: This probably won't involve a lot of history blogging or interviews because at this point, I want to focus more purely on just getting words on the virtual page, but you may see an occasional interview or announcement related to friends of mine.

2) Finish up THE FINAL CITY, hopefully by the end of this year if not sooner.

3) Finish up the sequel to MIND CRAFTER by spring of next year. I actually have a draft, but it was written years ago, and I'm extremely dissatisfied with its quality, so there's a lot of work to be done.

4) Start on two serial bi-monthly serial projects. I'll reveal more about this once I'm closer to releasing episodes. Currently, I'm tentatively looking at November for the first serial release.

I feel good about where I'm going with my writing, and I've been pleased with the readers I've been able to reach at this point.