Wednesday, October 25, 2017

October Update: Slowing Down and Gearing Up

My stats this month are kind of sad, but I'll start with them anyway.

Wordcount updates:
  • Words written so far in October: 4,581
  • Words written so far in 2017: 100,164
  • Words written so far on SoM: 51,007

Agent query updates:
  • Rejections: 39
  • Closed (no response): 19
  • Outstanding: 1

So yeah. I have hit my October slump.  The writing has slowed down. Book three has all but ground to a halt (I wrote a thousand more words on it last month but haven't touched it this month). The words I wrote this month were brainstorms for a couple of Cafe stories that I didn't write and a couple queries I've put together for publishers for book one.

Because the queries for literary agents is wrapping up. Just one left, and I should hear back from her within the next couple of weeks. I finally got passes on both agents with partial manuscripts, which was even more devastating than I had been expecting. Having hope makes that kind of thing hurt even more. I'm not sure if I would have been more or less depressed if I hadn't gotten any partial requests at all. Maybe more, because it'd be obvious the book and my query sucked. But maybe less because when I never expected to get interest in the first place, my path forward would have been more clear.

At any rate. Nobody wants this book.

You know what, though? That’s ok. I understand and I don’t take it personally. Diana is hard to like. Urban fantasy is a hard sell right now. And yes, the book is really, really long, for both genre and debut author. Sure, I’m bummed to hell about it. I’m hurt and upset about the rejection and feeling defeated as far as my goals to become a full time writer someday.

But I’m not going to quit.

I kind of subconsciously decided to take this month to mope and lick my wounds, recharge a bit. And next month I’ll attempt NaNo, see how that goes. Then I’ll line edit book two so I can give it to Aron for Christmas and maybe finish up that Cafe story from last December, but then I’m done until January.

And then I'll move on to the next phase of the plan. Next year, I will query a few publishers with book one. While waiting on those, I will focus on finishing book three and editing the first Druid Wars and the first Pandemonium.

But I need to reassess my publishing plan. I knew it was aggressive, but one thing I didn't take very well into account is that I can't keep up summer pace all year.

I always get overambitious in September. Or rather, I have the last two years. I see how well I’m doing and forget that things slow down in the winter. I called my writing icy sludge on Twitter once, and that's an apt metaphor. It’s a river that flows rapidly, eating up obstacles with ease during the spring and summer months. In fall, it slows a bit, but keeps up at least a bit of momentum. But at some point in the winter, ice freezes it solid and nothing gets through. Depending on the weather, it sometimes breaks up a bit and a few things trickle, but I can’t expect the movement in the winter that I get in the summer.

The good news is, that it all balances out. In theory. But I do need to revamp my goals. There’s no way I can write 200k a year. I think 150k might be closer to possible, and even then, maybe more optimistic than realistic. But I can’t let that stop me. I just have to adjust my goals and expectations.

And I have decided I'm not allowed to make a new publishing plan until book three is done. That's just good business. I shouldn't be trying to plan the release of a product that doesn't exist yet. As much as I'd love to release the first two books, since they're mostly done, the trilogy has to be a unit. I have to have all three books done and polished. I have to have the money saved to cover and edit all three. I don't always have to do it that way, but I think it'll be easier on me if I look at it that way.

And besides. If I do end up querying Druid Wars and/or Pandemonium, it may end up that my agent or a publisher wants to know what else I've got. I may not be able to debut with 125k, but maybe if I have another series that does well, I can go back and traditionally publish MystWatch.

I do need to fix up Online Dating for Demons. I realized that it has a greater chance of being picked up not just because it's a different genre and a little bit more strange (although maybe not as original as I had thought at the time), but also because it could be stand-alone. Yes, there is series potential, but the story wraps up, and future books would take place years later. So if an agent or publisher wanted just one book, ODD would hold up.

One final note. I will add that I might be trunking my adventure series. It breaks my heart to have to do it, because I love that character so much. I’ve been working on her since 2004. She’s even older and more dear to me than Diana. But I might need to let her go. To be fair, I was never entirely certain she’d be anything, anyway. I came up with her stuff as a distraction when I was burned out on other things. But it’s getting harder to make myself finish adventures. Also, with the invention of the earbud that can translate something like 40 different languages in nearly real-time, her gift almost seems to be obsolete. I'm not making any permanent decisions on that right now, but I'm not putting her on the schedule for next year. I may end up getting to a Camp NaNo and decide I want to visit her, but I really want to focus on my bigger novel projects next year, not novellas that I will probably never be able to publish.
 
Anyway. All of that is getting ahead of myself. For now, I just need to relax and write. Focus on NaNo. Try to write every day. Don’t be hard on myself when I don’t. I will feel stuck and yucky sometimes, and that’s normal. It usually means something is wrong or I haven’t plotted something out well enough. I've gotten better at getting to the root of the problem and fixing it when that happens.

The stuff with agents and publishing and all that? It doesn’t matter. I’m not ready. I want to be. I want to live the life. But it’s not my time. And there’s no rush. I don’t have to do this by 40. I know that was my goal, but I made that goal to light a fire under my ass so I’d get moving. And I’ve been moving. Every book I finish is another step in the right direction.

That being said, I’m disappointed that I will not achieve a lot of my writing goals this year. I know the first half of the year I was bogged down by depression other stuff. But I have to keep in mind that these years, right now, are kind of a way to assess what I am capable of in a given year, ups and downs included. It gives me some perspective. Without crazy deadlines, I can settle into a natural writing routine, and tracking that for a few years will give me an idea what I can realistically expect of myself. That will be extremely useful if I decide to self-publish, but also will be nice to be able to tell an agent if I ever get representation.

The last seven years have really been about seeing what I can do. I may not get published by 40, but I went from a hobbyist to serious about writing. I've finished novels, learned about the industry, and even submitted my work. I will have a record of what I can achieve in ten years. That will help me from getting bogged down in the small-scale ups and downs of each year and really focus on what I can accomplish.

That is also getting ahead of myself. At ten years, I will have to go back through this blog and make a huge "where am I going, where have I been" post. But I can hit snooze on that for now. I still have some time. Three more years. I can get a ton of stuff done in three years. Maybe not All The Things. But I've come a long way, and I'm not stopping now. I'm picking up steam and finally going places.

It's a slow process. But it's worth it. And I've proven to myself that I am well-equipped to hunker down for the long haul of it.

But for now, NaNo!