What is it that you do now?
For the last year, all I’ve done is write… write and walk… and listen to podcasts. It’s actually been fairly fulfilling. I feel like I’m making important changes in my life. I enjoy them. I’m happy for me.
Today, though, I’m going to focus mostly on the writing.
Most of my life, I’ve been one of those wannabe writers. I wanted to write a book, or fifty, someday… but I never did. I tried. God, did I try. I wrote a lot of partial books. I have them all saved in my Google drive. Maybe, one day, I’ll go back and turn some of them into something that resembles a book. Probably not, but it’s nice to dream.
Last year, in November, something inside me finally cracked. I’d written for NaNoWriMo before, even completed my 50,000 words. Unfortunately, those 50,000 words were more like a series of blog posts than a novel. That happens. Its okay. I am alright with that.
This year was different.
This Year, I wrote Choices.
Over the course of November, I plodded along through a mixture of my own life experiences and my avid devotion to Jim Butcher to put together something I’m proud of. Is Choices perfect? No, not even close, but it was completed. Sometimes I hear authors talk about wanting to go back and rewrite their first book. I would probably do that if I was paid big bags of money for it, one that was so chocked full of Benjamin’s that it was actually required by federal law to have a dollar sign imprinted on the side. I’d be willing to do one more draft of Terry Howard’s first story for that, but not on my own time. Terry is a character that honestly started as an expy for myself and has turned into so much more on his own. He’s got a pretty big story to tell, and I don’t have time to go back and clean up the old one.
I will say this, If I was writing it today, Choices would be about 30,000 words shorter. I like the 35k-40k story length. It forces me to be tighter and cleaner. More on that in a moment.
I followed up Choices with the six Alcohologist Chronicles episodes. Those… well I’m not not proud of them. They’ve got a very specific audience in mind, and when Yeti Detective and I wrote them, we did it with the sense of exactly what five people would want to read them. They were raw, uncensored, and honestly, poorly edited. We did them fast. We did them hard. We did them in a dirty way that would make our mother’s blush. If you’re not one of the handful of people that know what they’re about based entirely on the title alone, I’ll break it down for you:
A group of ridiculously cartoonish people do terrible, terrible things in the name of all that is wrong with the world. Seriously, in the second episode they fight off an army of Angels sent to destroy Earth because Jesus’s blood sugar got a little low.
1) Tighter stories are better: The nature of AC was such that I only had 7000 words to make Chris’s story beats into something tangible.
2) Writing is SERIOUS BUSINESS: Which, of course, is internet jargon for something people take way too seriously. Writing should be fun. If anyone tells you otherwise, stab them in the taint.
3) Nobody will buy a book with a Dick Ship on the cover if they aren’t already buying tentacle porn: Seriously, look at the also-boughts for Consensual Tentacles (Episode 4). This is by far and away the best selling episode, by the way. There’s another lesson there. There is a market of tentacle sex stories…
Alcohologist Chronicles was intended to be an ongoing series. Chris and I will get back to it again in the future. We’re looking at maybe releasing the individual episodes in a zine, but that’s neither here or there. We’ll definitely do at least one more story in the world because the season ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger and I don’t want to leave that hanging out there in the world.
We’ve got other stories in the works. Better stories. Right now, its all back burner as Chris focuses on More than a Sextape and I focus on writing all the plethora of other things I have to write. But, we’ll get to them eventually.
After Alcohologist Chronicles, I jumped back to Terry’s story with Fallout. Fallout is, hands down, better than Choices in every way but word count. It took much less time to write, too. I was recently told by a co-worker that she could see a massive improvement from me as a writer between the two books, and I was like, “Thanks, I hope the third book keeps the trend going.” I took the lessons I learned from writing Alcohologist Chronicles and applied them to Seven Keys. It did wonders. The second book is only about half as long as the first, but I think I packed just as much story and character into it.
With Fallout, I learned that it doesn’t take 50,000 words to tell a good story. It made me realize that I’m probably never going to be the guy that writes massive epic fantasy books that take 1000 pages. I’ve also started to realize that those massive epic fantasy books are insane. Why do people do that? It’s dumb. Look, I love Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, but come on, guys! Looking back on the Wheel of Time, I have to ask, “Did I really need to know every little detail of every little darkfriend running around betraying each other? Is it important to Rand, Mat, or Perrin’s story?” No, it wasn’t, and you knew it. If it was important that those stories be told, write a short story. I’d much rather read one through-line plot about the characters I love and have the option of reading all that other crap along the way if I want. Word count does not make a good story better, but it sure as hell makes a bad story worse.
Anyway. Because I stopped worrying about my readers being pissed if Choices was 70,000 words and Fallout was 36,000 words, I was able to write a better story. It’s cleaner. It’s neater. It’s just a better book. The rest of the series will be about the same length. In fact, the first draft of Book 3 came in at only 200 words off the count for book 2. That’s some consistency there. I like being consistent.
Which Brings Me to Today
I am writing.
Still, it feels amazing to be able to use my brain to make cohesive stories. I get to do this. I get to create things from my brain and let other people (hopefully) enjoy them. It’s a thing I am allowed to do. Encouraged, even.
Man, how crazy is that?