The Size That Fits

Two weeks have passed since the last of these, and it may be that will happen often, at least for a while, until I have a completed book to promote. It turns out that I don’t have a lot of topics ready to hand that I want to talk about on an ongoing basis, except the current state of the writing, and perhaps, just saying, “Still writing,” isn’t a compelling topic in and of itself.

However, I’m still writing. It’s not a breakneck pace, but I don’t expect any pace but a plodding one for quite a while. Still, the novel sits at 37 thousand words, which is almost the length of October, yet I don’t believe it is much more than a quarter of the way done.

Speaking of the length, I do want to mention, briefly, that I intend for this kind of length (160-180 thousand words) to be my new normal. If you look at the books I wrote in the years before the drought, my longest book, Fragments reached only 120k words, which was about twice as long as Moony and Minders and the unreleased fantasy novel that will now be getting a rewrite. But even Fragments did not quite match the kind of books I really love, and prefer to read, in terms of length and depth.

There just isn’t room in a 60k word book like Minders or Moony to tell the other side of the story, or to fit in scenes that provide more of the flavor of the place. You can, of course, write that more flavorful thing as three separate books, but I feel every book needs to conclude “something”, even if it’s not the whole story, so breaking a 180k word book into 60k chunks so you can publish once a month gives the story a rhythm that might not be there if you weren’t doing that.

And I don’t prefer that rhythm. It doesn’t make any of those 60k word books bad books, by any means. They’re just not my favorite.

And that’s what I decided to do during the dark days of the drought. I won’t be chasing trends, or trying to drop a new book every month like some people are able to do. I will be writing what I love, in the way that I can write it, to whatever length best fits it. Which means it’ll probably take four to six months to write a book. We’ll find out together, won’t we?

What I’m Reading

I just finished Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay, which is honestly, a book I should have read long ago. I was put off by the setting, years ago, but after having finished it, finally, I think it’s a fantastic book

I also finished reading Becoming Superman by J. Michael Straczynski. It’s a fantastic auto-biography of the man behind Babylon 5, as well as a bunch of other well known properties. The first half is brutal, though.

My next book conquest, I think, will be The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. I previously read Best Served Cold and enjoyed it very much, and it’s high time I read some of his other work.


I wasn’t planning on talking about this, but I’ve been putting words down on a new novel, now, every day for the last five weeks. Thirty-five days in a row. It’s not a huge accomplishment, in the overall scheme of things. I once wrote 450 days in a row, which I still think is pretty impressive. My next longest streak after that was 40 days in a row, when I was writing Shattered. This one comes in at number three.

A friend of mine and I have had multiple discussions about streaks vs the need to take days off. I’m not going to rehash the argument here, because we’re both right. I think getting and staying on a streak is useful as a way to keep the momentum going, and he thinks you need days off to recharge.

For me, if I take days off, I worry that I won’t come back for weeks, which has been proven to happen, time and time again. So when I get a streak going, I’m really, really excited about it, because it means words are going to get written, and books are going to get finished.

I don’t think I’ll ever write 450 days in a row, again. I might take a couple days off between books. But again, I might not. While I’m on a streak, I wanna ride it while I can.

What do you think?

What I’m Reading

I finished the available Cradle books by Will Wight, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next one, which is supposed to be the last. So I had to pick something new to start, and I ended up picking two things. The first, which has had more time spent on it, is Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay, and the second is Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erickson. There’s a good chance I’ll still be reading at least one of these next week. See you then!

So, Wednesdays

I had a good week of writing. The story has taken a bit of a twist that I’m really pleased with. The whole thing will likely require some major redrafting of the opening, if I ever decide to publish it (spoiler: I probably will, even though it was intended to be a learn how to ride a bike again kind of thing), but I’m super okay with that.

A note to new writers out there. If you hear writing advice, check to see who’s giving it to you. If you see some advice about how to start your story (for instance), and you go and check to see what they author has written and see they’ve only written two books, read their openings. See if they follow their own advice, and then see if you like their openings (or whatever is relevant to the advice they’re giving).

I watched a video from a young author (young in book terms, it turns out), who gave the “standard” advice about what NOT to do when starting your story. Don’t start with exposition, don’t start with a character we’ll never see again, don’t start with a boring day in the life, don’t start with your character waking up in bed. So I looked up their writing, I found two published books. I read the openings. One started with a dream sequence, and then they woke up in bed. In the other, they woke up in bed to see it snowing outside. Couldn’t follow their own advice.

Also, don’t follow my advice. I don’t know what I’m doing.

What I’m Reading

I’m still reading Will Wight’s Cradle series, but I’m in the middle of the last available book (Dreadgod). I dread finishing it, and having to wait for the final book in the series (which I think should be out this year), but I’m having so much fun reading it that I don’t want to put it off.

So Maybe Thursdays?

I’m still trying to work out when to post these things. Thursday is as good a day as any, I suspect. In any case…

I’ve now written 22 days in a row, which equals my longest streak since 2013. I last wrote 22 days in a row in 2014, which was basically the last time I felt really productive. I’m still not writing at a pace I would consider really productive, but every word added to the story is a word I don’t have to write any more. In other words, the story is getting longer, and for me, that’s all that matters at the moment.

I don’t know if you’ll ever see this particular story. It’s all seat of the pants writing. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I’m making up the world as I go. It’s an exercise in building a writing habit.

Once this story is done, I’ll be picking up work on something called Sorcerer’s Bane, which is a series I started to write several years ago (the genesis of the story actually came to me as part of an assignment during a writing workshop over a decade ago). The first book is already “complete”, in that it told it’s arc of the story, but I’m a different person than the person I was when I wrote it, and the story as written no longer fits with how I want the story told. So I’ll be rewriting it from scratch. I expect it will take a few months.

I’m on the fence about how I’ll release it – whether I’ll wait for them all to be finished, or if I’ll just release them as I finish them. I have a habit of not finishing series, and that’s a habit I want to break.

What I’m Reading

This week, I’ve been reading the Cradle series from Will Wight. I’m currently on Book 8: Wintersteel, and I’ll probably have the remaining available ones finished by next week. I’m not a book critic or a reviewer. But if I were, I would say that, for the right type of reader, they are fantastic. If you enjoy watching the protagonist struggle to improve himself again and again and again, these might be for you.

Two Weeks

I’m trying to decide when I’m going to post new posts. Friday is kind of an end of the week kind of thing, but Wednesday currently aligns well with some things, like my current writing streak. Also, most people aren’t checked out of their week on Wednesday, where I feel a lot of people are already off to start enjoying their weekend by Friday evening (which is when I would get around to posting this).

So, for this week, Wednesday.

And the big news this week? I’ve written fourteen days in a row, now, on a new story, and I can’t tell yet just what it’s going to be. I thought at first it was going to be this light-hearted girl meets boy thing, but it’s taken a darker turn than I anticipated, and now, I’m less sure what it is than I was three days ago.

There’s a lot of work that’ll need to be done, as having been gone so long from any sort of consistent writing practice has atrophied my skills a bit, I suspect. Or maybe I just have higher expectations than I did before. A lot of details will need to be filled in and adjusted, because I really am making this thing up as I go along, and sometimes, new thoughts that necessitate changes present themselves later than I would like.

I’m not busting down doors with word count right now. I’m mostly just relying on slow and steady every day progress. Enjoying the process, as it were. I’ve written more days this year, so far, than I did in all of 2021 and 2022 combined, and I’ve equaled the number of days that I wrote in 2020. Another two weeks, and I will beat 2019 and 2018.

I don’t have a word count goal. I just have a goal, each day, to sit down and write something. Anything. And to have fun with it. So far, so good.

Writing Again

It has been a long time, it turns out, since I wrote at any sort of consistent pace. I didn’t realize how long, until last night, after I finished writing for the 9th day in a row, and decided to have a look back at what my productivity has been like.

I have a spreadsheet that tracks my word counts all the way back to 2010, when I started work on Shattered. I can look at any day of any of those years and see how many words I wrote that day, plus totals and averages and all sorts of jazz.

I whipped out that spreadsheet, and started looking for sequences where I’ve written at least 9 days in a row. I looked at 2022, which was a wash. I didn’t write a single word in 2022. I only read, I think, 14 books in 2022, as well. 2021, I wrote roughly 9000 words of fiction across the whole year, but it was quite concentrated on 3 days in April of that year. I wrote almost the same amount in 2020, too, but this time, spread out in individual little pieces all throughout the year. And 2019? We don’t talk about 2019. Actually, 2019, started off really good, with 19k words in January, and then a bunch more in February, and then the hammer fell, and I wrote almost nothing for the rest of the year. Still, not 9 days in a row.

In fact, I had to go back to 2016 to find a stretch where I wrote more than 9 days in a row. I had no idea that it was that long ago. Nearly 7 years. That stretch was 20 days in a row, where I was finishing off an unreleased novel (which may yet someday see the light of day).

What’s the point? The point is, I guess, that I’ve been a mess, as far as writing goes, for a LOT longer than I thought. 9 days in a row isn’t breaking any records for me, nor is it even close to what I’ve done in the past (2012-2013, I wrote more than 365 days in a row), but compared to the recent past, it feels like a HUGE win.

I’m not pushing to hit some streak number (though the temptation is there). I’m not stressing about how much I’m writing, as I’ve decided to approach this with a “Did I write something? Yes? Good.” attitude. I’m enjoying it, and the beasts and demons that were keeping me away from writing appear to be in retreat.

I’ve worked really hard to get to the point where I can create art despite the negativity around me, where I can have fun when even the people closest to me want to tear me down or keep me from doing something I love. Am I always successful? No. But I’ve been successful 9 days in a row (despite having a cold for three of those days), and a story is slowly taking shape.

And that is a great thing.