2014 was a difficult year of evolution for me. It was better than 2013, which was a horrible experience for the most part,but 2014 did not shape up to be what I thought it would. It’s not all completely wasted, but I definitely expected a more powerful year. Instead, it was a year of growth and learning, which in all honesty, can be painful.
At the end of 2013, I was ready for a new year. Boy, was I ready. I had published the final book in The Protector series, Endure, and I was moving on to bigger things after a year struggling through personal issues. Then 2014 came, and suddenly it was gone. I didn’t write as faithfully as I had in previous years. I can admit that much. My writing was sporadic at best. At first, and for most of the year, I thought it was me. I was recovering from major losses, my entire world had been changed, and I was trying to rediscover who I was and what I wanted out of life. I knew I wanted to keep writing, I just didn’t have it in me all the time. I thought one day I’d wake up and just be ready to get back at it. I wasn’t. Instead, I tried forcing it, regaining a little of my lost passion piece by piece, but even when I was sure I was ready, I still struggled.
I wrote 80k words of Sacred Cities when I realized it wasn’t working. I probably realized it earlier, but I didn’t want to admit it. When I finally accepted it, I knew I had to do something drastic, something I’d never had to do before: I would delete a major chunk of the book and start again. 50k words to be exact. Even if you’re not a writer, surely you can understand how heartbreaking it is to delete that much of your work. I didn’t let it drag me down though, I grabbed the silver lining and told myself how much better the book would be because of it. I worked my butt off from that point on, and when it was done (again!) at a monstrous 183k words, I knew cutting those words was for the best. With my knew novel in rough draft I was ready to start editing. The problem was, the 183k I’d written had been spread out over half the year. I didn’t realize what poor shape my story was in.
Editing the book was painful. Very painful. I continued to tell myself I had to force my way through it to get back in the groove, but it wasn’t working. That’s when I realized that the book wasn’t done. Once again it wasn’t right, but this time I didn’t know why. I left it alone for a month, raking my brain over it. At this point, after 2 years of struggling, I was ready to call it quits. I had multiple other books in mind, a few of which were really exciting to me, and I’d start on one of those instead. As I prepared to write an all-together new book, I realized all this time it wasn’t me finding my groove that was the problem, it was the book I had been writing. I was telling the wrong story. It wasn’t as powerful, adventurous, or fast-paced as it needed to be. You see, Sacred Cities has huge potential. It’s a great idea, has great characters, and a great story. The problem is I hadn’t been approaching it the right way. I had forced it to be something it wasn’t and I had tried to do too much with one novel…as the 183 word count might have reflected. It made it messy, slow, and in all honesty, boring. That realization was more heartbreaking than deleting the first 50k, because it meant I had to rewrite a lot of this book. Again. It meant I’d lied to myself again. I’d let it go too long knowing it wasn’t right, but instead of fixing it, I told myself to power through. I’d fooled myself again. All of this was an effect of the start/stop method my writing had become. Another thing I knew needed to change drastically.
Wow…it’s both difficult and a relief to say all of that. It’s hard to use the word boring when describing one of your own books. I think I hurt myself in the feelings a little…oh well. Onward and upward, right?
I feel like after all this I should apologize for the delay of this book, but I realize two things. The first is that I’ve already done that…a lot. At what point does it stop being sincere? I’m not sure, but I don’t want it to get there. The second reason is that I don’t think I should. Not again. I, more than anyone else, want to put out another book, but I won’t put out something I feel is sub-par. It’s not worth it, and it’s not right. I write what I write because I love it. I don’t hit publish because I should, I hit that button because I have a book I believe in, a story I love, and a world I think others will enjoy visiting. The Protector novels came to me all at once. I sat down and wrote them, edited them, and published them. They were done. I didn’t have hiccups or roadblocks like this. I didn’t have extensive rewrites and major flow issues. They just…were. 2014 was supposed to be a year of publishing 2 new novels in 2 new series. Instead, nothing was published, and nearly everything I did was scrapped to the side like last week’s meatloaf. It was 365 days of self-exploration, and learning a part of the craft I thought I didn’t need to learn. I had to defeat arrogance and unreal expectations. I thought I was the exception. I didn’t need to revise and rework. Stories came to me in one piece and they were great as is. That seems like such a silly thing to say now, but at the time of writing my first series, that was the way it was. I suppose that kind of self-blindness cannot last forever, and that’s a good thing. Instead, I fell out of sight in 2014, lacking confidence in myself and my writing. I watched my friends succeed with incredible stories, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel envy over that. While others found success and continued to power through and write great books, I struggled with a single novel that I couldn’t ship. I couldn’t get it done. But I did learn, and that’s as important as anything. Although I didn’t get to accomplish what I wanted in 2014, all of this has prepared me for what I will be able to do in 2015. Create and hopefully publish a truly great novel…or three.
So what am I to do with my new year? I’ve been working on Sacred Cities for 15 months now. Off and on of course, but I’ve written a total of 240k words in this universe in that time. I think I might need a break. I have another story in mind that I’m really excited about, and to be honest, the idea of reworking Sacred Cities again feels kind of overwhelming. It seems harder to rebuild the mountain you’ve already assembled and destroyed twice than it is to just find a new location and build a new mountain with new stones. That’s not to say I won’t rebuild right now, it’s just to say I’m not sure. Right now I’m all about finding my passion and pouring myself into a book. SC has me exhausted. As I flounder out the last few days of 2014 I have a big decision to make. Either I need to jump into SC and tackle it to the ground, disassemble it and put together something greater, or I need to explore something new. Maybe I need to rediscover passion by closing my eyes and just letting it go. Start with a blank page and see what comes out of this head of mine. I haven’t committed to one or the other yet. In all honesty, I’m scared. I’m sacred if I leave SC alone, it’ll be that much more work when I come back to it. It won’t be fresh in my mind. But a part of me wonders if that’s not the best thing for it. I’m also scared if I tackle another project I’ll realize I don’t have it, and I’ll be destined to relive this entire SC fiasco. Maybe I’m a one-series-wonder? This is all to say I’m scared of a lot of things right now. It’s also to say that I don’t care. I won’t quit. I won’t stop. One way or another I will write. Whether it’s crap or whether it’s gold, only time will tell, but one thing is for certain, good or bad, I have a lot more stories to tell. I just won’t publish them unless they truly capture my heart, and when that happens, I hope you’ll be there to turn the pages with me.
With all that said, 2014 hasn’t been all bad. It’s been a year of enlightenment, a year of growth, and a year of learning. At the very least, I’ve grown leaps and bounds as a writer and grown painfully aware of myself as a person. As hard as that was, it’s a good thing and I am thankful for it. So as 2014 rolls out and 2015 rolls in, I say Happy New Year to you. May your goals be reached, may your dreams grow, may you persevere through struggles, and demolish the demons in your path!