Friday, September 30, 2016

Of Hope, Stubbornness, and Creative Burnout

(Before I kick this off, anyone who wants to skip the detailed explanation of what's been going on and get to the more important bits regarding book four's release date, just scroll down and look for the bolded sentences.)

Wow. Five months, huh? 

I seem to remember saying something in earlier posts about being more regular with these updates… and I can assure you, I never intended to go this long without posting. After a while, though, I began putting off this update because I wasn’t sure how to explain everything that’s been going on. 

And more than that, I didn’t want to attempt a post until I had actual news to share with you. Preferably happy news, which I'm still waiting on.

My radio silence had a lot of different causes.

So many, in fact, that I’m now wondering how I’ll write this post without sounding like I’m just making excuses… Or worse, seeking sympathy. 

Rule number one in this world of ours? Pretty much everyone is struggling with something. 

That said, I do feel as though I owe you guys an explanation. And seeing as it’s far and away the most popular question in my inbox and on social media these days, I really need to address the topic of book four’s release date.

Back in April I mentioned I’d be relocating to Asheville, NC and that my work on the fourth Variant Series novel would temporarily grind to a halt.

And oh, man, did it ever.

I’ve experienced at least one bout of writer’s block with every novel I’ve ever written. For me, at least, writing a book never gets any easier. And in those reoccurring creative droughts, the typing fingers are often willing—but the muse is typically MIA any time I sit down to work.

Generally speaking, I work my way through it in the end. Whether it takes a couple weeks or a couple months, I always find myself getting back into (and staying in) a productive groove until I complete the project.

Once I finally found myself settled in North Carolina and ready to work again, something a little different happened—I experienced creative burnout for the first time ever.

At first I though it was just another round of writer’s block and that I’d eventually muscle my way through it, same as always.

And believe you me, I tried to.

I did what I always do when insecurities and the dreaded block arrive.

I forced the words onto the page.

At times, I forced entire chapters onto the page.

…But from the beginning, I could tell that there was something very different about this block.

For the first time in my life, writing—the activity that had always been my refuge and my favorite escape—was making me downright miserable. And heaven help me, it showed in the story. 

Since starting work on this novel a year ago, I have scrapped major chunks of it no less than three times and started over from scratch twice.

As of this entry, the word count in my cut file (where I move any and all of the text deleted from my WIP) is just over 47,000 words. 

So… yeah.

I’ve been struggling.

After a few months of battling the writer’s block to no avail, I realized I needed to take a step back and finally put my finger on what was causing the problem. The first step was to accept the fact that it wasn’t just a block this time. 

I was officially burnt out. 

Many of the reasons for the burnout were deeply personal… but the bottom line? I was tired. And that exhaustion caused me to question whether or not continuing on as a professional author was the right choice for me at this point in my life. 

My writing wasn’t for me anymore. It was for the world.

The thing that had always been my go-to method for dealing with (and escaping from) my daily struggles was no longer a pleasant distraction.

It was a job.

Now, don’t get me wrong here…  It’s an amazing job to have. In fact, it’s been my own idea of a dream job ever since I was old enough to answer the all important question of what I wanted to “be” when I grew up.

On top of that, I love my readers! And the thought that I might be able to provide even one person out there with a way to temporarily escape from their own troubles, makes me indescribably happy. 

But when you find yourself dealing with a list of personal struggles that would leave even the strongest individuals craving a way to escape—well, losing the one thing in the world that’s always been capable of providing you with one…. 

It sucks.

A lot.

I’ve spent the last couple of months trying to decide what to do about it.

The conclusion I’ve come to is this: I want to keep going. More than anything, I want to finish the Variant Series. And I’d really like to keep sharing my stories with the world.

So nothing’s going to change. For now, at least, I’l keep writing.

But here’s the thing, guys—there’s absolutely no way I can attempt to give a timeline for when book four (or, for that matter, the currently hypothetical fifth book) will be published.

I just can’t.

I’d love to. But I can’t.

Anything I say… any estimated completion date… runs the risk of being blown out of the water, yet again.

Book four will be completed. That much I know for certain. My stubborn pride, the obligation I feel to the readers who have stuck with the story this far, and my love for these characters, all ensures that one day it will be finished. 

But I can’t tell you how long it will take, because I simply don’t know. Three months? Possibly. Another year? Yeah. I can’t lie—that’s a possibility, too. Until I work my way past the burnout, I just don’t know what will happen.

One thing I do know? I refuse to write the wrong book, simply because I’m desperate to publish something. If I’d stuck to my past deadlines, book four would probably be ready to release by now… but trust me when I say that it wouldn’t have been a book that anybody would want to read. 

So right now, that’s where things stand. I’m struggling, but hopeful, and way too stubborn to give up.

I’ll keep writing in the hopes that one day soon I’ll sit down to write and rediscover that sense of joy that used to go hand in hand with creating. I’m going to finish book four and I’m going to make it the best that I can. And as soon as it’s ready for release, you guys will absolutely be the first to hear about it! 

P.S. And as always, thank you all so stinkin’ much for the kind words and understanding messages you’ve been sending my way these last few months!  Your support and love for the Variant Series novels means so much more to me than you could ever know! <3