I get a lot of emails asking me how my writing is coming along on certain books or series. By far and away I hear most from people who are eager for the fourth Draegan Lords book. :) I know it’s frustrating to wait. I’m a reader, too, and I hate having to be patient while an author writes the next book in a series, so I understand. All I can say is that writing is a creative endeavor, which means it works in mysterious ways and every author has to follow his/her own path, whether it be simple or complex, fast or slow, plotted and planned, or freewheeling and open-ended. Some authors write very methodically, with everything plotted out in great detail ahead of time, and others (like me) let the story unfold as they’re writing. I simply can’t plot a book before I write it. It never works for me because a) by the time I’m done with all that plotting I have zero interest left in writing the story. And b) my characters pretty much NEVER follow along nicely. If I have it planned for them to go to point A and hunt lions, instead they’ll go to point B and bake cookies. You laugh, but I’m serious! The more I try to force the characters to stay on the path I’ve plotted for them, the more they rebel. I’ve gotten myself into some of the worst dead-ends and irretrievable tight spots by trying to make my characters and plots conform to some preconceived structure I came up with before I started writing. Besides, some of the best villains, scenes, and plot twists in my stories have happened completely unexpectedly as I wrote…things that I would never have thought of if I’d plotted everything beforehand.
On the flip side, not plotting ahead can slow me down at times. Sometimes I have to step away from a story for a while and let it percolate while the characters decide what they need to do next. But the trade off is worth it to me. Some books write fast, some write slow. Some need very little nurturing along the way because they just flow out, and others take lots of nurturing. Also, I find that the farther I get into a series I’m writing, the longer each story takes because I have to keep rereading the older stories to make sure I’m getting my facts straight. Some people are blessed with a perfect memory, but unfortunately I’m not one of them. That downfall requires me to put in extra time and effort to remember the basics. It sucks, but, such is my life. LOL!
In any case, in the past I’ve tried to make promises to readers that “I’m working on Title X and only that right now,” and “I’ll try to have it done by Date Z.” But the truth is, I shouldn’t try to make promises like that. For one thing, it’s too easy to disappoint readers if I can’t meet the deadline/promise I’ve made. And the other reason I should never do that is that when I do, I’m boxing myself in, trying to force the creative process to conform, and I just don’t work well that way. In fact, I work really crappily that way. I’m most productive when I have some flexibility. I want to make readers happy (Obviously! You guys are why I write!), but I owe it to readers to give them the best stories I can. Trying to work under tight deadlines, write only one story at a time, or write stories in a certain order doesn’t allow me to function at my best. Instead, I end up all creatively constipated and frustrated and then nothing gets done. Agh!! :)
So, my amended policy is that I am going to return to my natural way of writing, which means that I will probably always be writing on more than one project at a time. That works nicely for me because when I do need to take a step back from a story to percolate, I can make progress on something else in the meantime. Really, it’s kind of like double prizes…in the end it pays off for me by letting me get more writing done, and it pays off for you, my readers, because I’m usually a little more prolific if I can work on more than one story at once. Also, I’m no longer going to make any promises about what’s going to get finished first. Just like I can’t force characters to follow a plot I’ve prescribed for them, sometimes there’s no forcing them to get to the end of their tale before they’re ready. And actually, that’s a good thing. The best stories aren’t forced. All I ask for is your patience and a little bit of trust that I will get your favorites written. Remember, I love the stories and characters, too, and am just as anxious as you are to find out what’s going to happen! :)
You can check out my Works in Progress page here and see what I’ve currently got on the burner. I’ll try to keep this page updated as things progress, get sidelined, or as new works are added. I know it’s important to readers to be kept in the loop, and I will endeavor to honor that. :) My Works in Progress page will be where you can find that information.
Happy reading, everyone! And happy autumn!