Writing and Steering an Ocean Liner

Happy New Year!

I’ve decided to push my release target for A Contract in Azure and Indigo out to February. I’m shifting all my other release goals out a month at the same time too. So, Tears of the Joyous Mare is now penciled for March.

Why? I’m overwhelmed.

Everything related to getting the books out has become tight. Everything is a last-minute race against the clock. I like to be busy and have a lot going on, but it’s more than I can keep up with given my time constraints. I’ve been in a near-constant state of stress since November.

There’s also no real publishing factor behind why I’m doing this to myself. I’ll still meet my goals if the books are out a month later than I’d planned. I simply said I will put them out on X date and have been stubborn pushing to meet them… Regardless of new challenges and changes. Sticking with them has now become detrimental to the quality of the final product. I’m rushing and often exhausted, leading to mistakes and poor judgement.

As it turns out, being an author running an indie press is much like steering an ocean liner. Your focus needs to be a ways ahead and you must start making turns well before you need to. If a release takes longer than expected, it knocks down the releases behind it like dominoes. It’s exponentially bad. With each subsequent project you have less and less room to maneuver that big boat around. Sure, I can cry Allons-y and save the ship. But I can’t keep that effort up forever, it’s exhausting. And— if I’m resorting to heroic efforts every week to stay on course— I think it’s possible that maybe, just maaaaaybe, I’m doing something wrong…

So, I’m making changes in the new year and giving myself more time to get shit done right.

Along with that change, I’m going to stop setting public release dates for unfinished works. I need to do that after stories are fit to print, not before. It’s time to be honest and admit that my life and creative process has too many variables currently. Right now, I can’t commit to public release dates for works in progress. I’ll keep using personal target dates for releasing WIPs, but those are goals and not promises. Ultimately, a story will be done when it’s DONE. I’ll announce and determine releases for X date after that.

Now that I’ve gotten those New Year’s Resolutions and Announcements out, here’s what I’ve been up to:

For the last few weeks, it’s been writing and editing. Well, mostly.

I finished my personal edit of A Contract in Azure and Indigo and sent its 5th draft to my editor, Lauren L. Garcia. Her manuscript evaluation came back in a week filled with constructive feedback. She liked the story. Lauren pointed out a strong handful actionable items that could use improvement as well.

I’ve picked up the editing ball and I am running for the 6th draft goal line with her vote of confidence. Lauren will be helping me further with Azure too. She’ll be giving a fresh manuscript evaluation to the next draft.

In the interim between finishing Azure’s 5th draft and waiting for the it’s editor feedback, I worked on a 3rd draft of Tears of the Joyous Mare. I’d given it a revision from its 2016 version back in August and got a couple of beta reads on it. But then I had to put it aside to get Angel finished. Working on Harvest, Azure and a couple author events kept me from returning to it after that.

I started integrating changes to Mare based on feedback from its last beta read. I’m conducting a personal edit alongside it… reducing passive voice and shortening complicated sentences line-by-line. Between the two, the edits took time, but were comprehensive. The most involved part was expanding some sections of the story and writing a wholly new ending.

The change is precipitated by identical critique from both betas so far about the ending. The original version of Mare had two acts. But beta reader feedback highlighted that the ending felt very rushed. My decision was that the story needed to go from a two-act structure to three to feel complete. The old ending was after the plot’s climax, but was the emotional climax of the protagonist… Which is far more important. It needed a lot more space to play out, feel natural and be satisfying. The page or two I’d devoted to it originally was insufficient. An entire third act denouement was needed to showcase the protagonist’s growth.

Those additions turned a short story into a novelette. Mare’s 3rd draft is currently 8,300 words long and coming to a close, whereas the second draft was 5,600. It’s now big enough to organize into three chapters. It’s a perfect mirror for the three-act structure it gained between drafts.

And this week, I’ve had a good week. Great even, considering I fought off a cold going into it and weathered a two-day snow/ice storm during. I got my social media stuff done in spades. In doing so, I completely freed-up my next few weekends for working on edits of Azure and Mare.

Have a great week everyone, and keep writing!

~Jason H. Abbott.

7 thoughts on “Writing and Steering an Ocean Liner

Add yours

  1. I am with you. It’s too hard to commit to a set date. I learned that last year on Knight of Valor when things went sideways, and I had to push it back three months.

    I have a day job that feeds us, a family, and I must sleep :)

    We do what we can with what we have, but sometimes, we just need more time to release the best work we can.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the situation could be different for authors writing full-time, or maybe even those working at a day-job part time. But for me trying to improve my craft and manage projects for my publishing business simultaneously are added complications I need to get real about. And there is inexperience and just plain old learning that is hamstringing me too… I’m not finding any examples of other indie authors doing what I’m attempting. Perhaps I’m learning the reasons why here. ;-)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Possibly. Just be kind to yourself. It’s a long journey, and you do amazing work. A few delays does not derail you :)

        And, yes, balancing a full time job and family makes it all the harder.

        It can also be super frustrating when the professional cover artist is late, or the editor you hired stops returning e-mails forty months. I have learned deadlines are a bit more…fluid in writing than in corporate finance. For everyone, it seems.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true. One advantage I’d never expected to have in the business side of things is that I enjoy strategy games. I rarely have time for games these days, but I find the aspects of planning, implementing and adapting strategy and tactics in business isn’t too dissimilar. That viewpoint takes a lot of the drudgery out of running a business for me, it even makes it fun and exciting sometimes.


  2. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a delay, if needed. You’ve got to take care of yourself, too. Don’t get burned out. I am doing the same as you, planning to give myself more time this year than last. 2019 was rough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, self-care is very important. For me there’s also a factor of learning my capacities and constraints. Like anybody, I’m growing and learning. And there’s added variables that change weekly with events in my life and how that positive growth and acquired knowledge alters my relationship with the whole. It’s a lot, so like you I’m giving myself more space in 2020. :-)

      Liked by 1 person

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