So, I’m winding down to the end of this time in my life. For that reason, I haven’t been too diligent about updating this blog (or, ya know, seeing friends); I’ve finally worked myself into a really productive writing schedule that’s actually supporting multiple projects at the same time. And, it’s seen me through probably more chapters in the past month than I’ve written in the past 4 combined. Do I wish I could’ve found this schedule and devoted myself to it months ago? Of course, but hey, discovering this stuff–working it into my life and devoting myself to it–is what Brand New Day’s all about, so I can’t complain. What matters is, I’m on schedule to finish the outline within the next two weeks and then devoting 100% of my time to looking for a new job (instead of 20% of it).
Being so close to the book in the past month has taken its toll though; I realized the other day, while working on chapter 14, that I had no idea whether the book was… I guess I should say “marketable.” The characters were chatting about the course of action and while reading it over again, I thought, “Will this be boring?… Is this boring?”
My brain replied with, “Well… You did just have like… a huge action scene. And this chapter is really engaging.”
To which I said, “… 8 | …,” because I realized that was not an answer.
Now, alone, that’s not a problem–I definitely ascribe to the mantra that a writer should write what they enjoy, not what they think others will enjoy. I could’ve just remembered that and shrugged the whole mess away.
But… this had happened about… I dunno, a days after I realized (finally) what the plot for the rest of the series would be. Now, you’re possibly confused by that–how the hell could I not know what the rest of the series would be like?–so let me explain; I’m more of a… casual brainstormer (I’m making up terms). I can (and totally do), just sit down and put pen to paper and ideas come out. But really, for me, the best ideas come out of nowhere when I see or hear something that triggers brainstorming when I’m not even trying. Usually what I get from a trigger is an image that I then expand on slowly. Most of the time, it’s a character doing something (a kid frantically painting a rune over and over again while a battle happens nearby, for example).
And that’s the kind of thing that happened with the plot for both sequels of The War of Exiles, which, ya know, was awesome.
Only it turns out the rest of the plot is heartbreaking.
It was either on facebook or twitter (@TheGrandSilence) that I mentioned how I hoped a character wasn’t going to die in the chapter I was currently working on. I… don’t remember if that happened (#blatantlie), but the fact is, that can always happen; I try to be as open as possible with events, leaving it up to the characters to choose what happens while I set them in different, crazy settings. Turns out though that writing like this can accidentally lead to intense bouts of depression; my characters are like… more than friends, and all they have is really rough times coming. I’m personally getting a bit jaded with character deaths, but suffice it to say that I’ve found something far worse; the second installment in the series is going to be really tough to write (if I get the opportunity to write it at all).
So, the uncertainty and the depression set in a short while back. Well, not depression, but sadness–I cried (#HoldYourViolinsTilTheEndPlease–#TheyllJustMakeMeCryAnyway). Regardless, the result was a day or two’s break, with all sorts of questions: Was this seriously worth it? Should I even bother? Are the questions the sequel’s going to pose too dark? Is the way they’ll be conveyed going to just make everyone unhappy? Was this whole Brand New Day thing stupid? Should I have just tried to get the original book published and then just try to get a steady job instead?
Well… ultimately, I realized that because the questions and themes of the sequel were so damn serious and heavy, I had a responsibility to write them down–a responsibility to the character who goes through the absolute worst of them first, and (if it so happens that this series gets published) a responsibility to the public second, as a writer, to not pull punches or sugar coat anything.
But, still, that left a residue of “Is this good?” A film of “Am I writing shit again?” and “Are people going to want to read any of this?”
And then, Ronin of HotMop Films (@RoHotMopFilms) posted this video on facebook.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a video that was as perfectly timed as this one. As perfectly timed and, as a result, as validating; I had already at least gotten over this hurdle, right? I realized the first version of the book was terrible and I’d already worked past that. I didn’t give up.
No. I didn’t. And I won’t.