Like many of you, I have been critical of George R. R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss for the impossibly long interval between their last books and whatever is next in their series. Ah, but with ages comes stretch marks – wisdom! I meant wisdom.
I now find myself in a similar predicament. The first four novels in my series came out about once every twelve months or so. This fifth and final book has taken me almost three years…and counting. And I have discovered there is no single reason for this phenomenon but rather a perfect storm of things, ranging from the current political climate in my country which seems to suck the very life from my soul, to fear of letting you down. Allow me to enumerate and elaborate upon some of the issues:
- As I said, the political situation in my country may be amongst the greatest dramas of our age. I get home from my day job and plop myself on the couch, riveted by the latest developments and non-developments. It doesn’t really matter what my own politics are in this case; literally everything that happens is without precedent and therefore historic.
- I think about the end of Erikson’s masterpiece, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, the weakest link of which, I think, was its finale. I should be lucky to write such a brilliant novel, but, as the end to his series, it fell short for me. So, I worry about likewise falling short of my readers’ expectations.
- There is also, I have discovered, a fear of letting go, of saying goodbye to these characters that I will have known for years and years and almost three-quarters of a million words. And it will be goodbye. Make no mistake about that. This series was my maiden voyage, and I am bound for other lands (and stories) in the future.
- Marketing. The more I have learned about it, and the better I have become at it, the more of my time it seems to take. I am blessed to have a publisher now, but marketing remains largely my own responsibility.
- Being a decent human being. As my works have grown in popularity, I have caught the attention of fellow indie authors, and I have discovered, to my delight, that there is no competition amongst us, but rather a sense of comradery, of fellowship and mutual support. Thus, I spend a fair amount of time reading my colleague’s work and offering positive commentary that may help them along their own journeys. There is, as I once told the great C.T. Phipps, room for all of us, and perhaps no one demonstrates this thinking better than he.
- More writing. As a result of these new friendships, I have been invited to participate in a few short story anthologies, which are great fun, but naturally take time away from working on my series. You can find the first of these anthologies here:https://www.amazon.com/Blackest-Knights-C-T-Phipps/dp/1949914984/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Blackest+Knights&qid=1552261817&s=gateway&sr=8-1 There will also be a sequel coming out shortly, and I’ll be contributing to a third anthology from a different publisher this summer.
- Having a new job. I’ve been teaching for almost thirty years, and, while it was never a dream of mine, I have finally landed in what amounts to my dream teaching job. It is very hard and equally challenging. But I am learning. For the first time in forever, I am learning, and it is thrilling. Anyway, I landed this new job just prior to beginning Book Five.
- Finally, I took my first vacation to Europe in ten years or so last summer (and got heat-stroke. Fun times.), so that I spent my summer “vacation” actually on vacation, instead of writing.