If George R.R. Martin Can Do It, So Can I

-OR –

The Election of a Thin-Skinned, Racist, Sexually-Predatory Toddler Has Addled My Writing Brain (And, Oh Yeah! He’s Crazy Too!)

We could have had it all, couldn’t we have?

Human decency. The embracing of diversity. The embracing of each other. Truth. Kindness. Compassion.

Instead, we have Russia meddling in our election, America’s racist, misogynist underbelly slithering out of the spaces they inhabit to shout “Hallelujah! Our savior has come,” and a bunch of well-meaning, but ignorant white men telling us all to just “wait and see if anything happens,” though things are already happening in the form of moron-elect-inspired hate crimes, and it’s an easy thing to say when you know those things that happen will never happen to you.

I have had a LOT to say about this election over the past weeks, and I have said it, quite vociferously, in my own home, but I’m not going to repeat it right here, right now. I’m much too tired.

What I do need to tell you is that I’m not going to have a book out by the end of this year. Yes, that means Black Forest: Stories End has been postponed… again.

I know. I really do. No one wishes it was coming out next month more than me.

Because I feel the urge to explain myself, I am going to give a brief walk-through of my writing process below, but, for those of you who are already tired of reading this rambling nonsense, just know the new release date for Black Forest: Stories End is –

July 21, 2017

Yes, July. Yes, I know. And, to those of you who have been waiting for the final chapter in Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and friends’ story for quite some time, I truly am sorry.

A Word About Flow

Here’s how I write.

Four drafts-ish

Draft one: free writing/plot formation

I sit down with a general idea of the story I want to tell, and let the ideas come. If I have the right starting point, one plot point leads to another, and so on. Characters behave as their personalities would have them behave, and the choices they make/how they react to a situation leads through the story to the inevitable outcome. Sometimes I know what that outcome will be. Sometimes I don’t.

Draft two: making it pretty

There is nothing pretty about just getting it all down. It’s a lawless, often chaotic process that frees the mind, but also makes me wonder WTF when I start reading back through that half-workable, half-nonsense scrawl.

Characters might say clever things, and they know their intentions, but I don’t know them yet. Not well. By the time we reach the end of the first draft, though, it’s like, “Oh, that’s why you did that. I get you now.”

Draft two is where I fix voices, think in analogies, and worry… and worry… and worry about style.

Draft three: fixing what’s broken/finding the rhythm

So, we’ve got a plot, a deep understanding of our characters, and style. Hopefully, by this point.

That doesn’t necessarily mean all is well.

Now, it’s time to check the story’s rhythm.

One of the best compliments I ever get is that my writing is somewhat “poetic.” That matters to me when I write, because it matters to me when I read. The right word is always essential, and the right word isn’t just about meaning. It’s also about syllables and sound. When you read aloud as much as I do, melody is as important as plot.

Draft three is also when I do the most whittling down. Those asides that seemed so interesting in draft two often prove superfluous and out of sync in draft three, and they have to go.

Draft four: last edits/proofreading

Plot, style, and rhythm in place, all that remains is the proofreading. By this point, I’ve been through the story three times, once to plot it, once to write it, and once to make it melodic… I hope. I edit throughout the process. Now, I just have to read it. In reading it, I usually find any last errors. Most of them, at least.

Now, I said this was about flow, and it is. Flow, for me, is absolutely essential. While it is not necessary to write, it is key to writing well.

There is no style without flow. No rhythm. No enjoyment. And I need it for drafts two through four. When I can’t get there during the reading/proofreading process, everything I have already written sounds out of sync. I want to change it all, and, when I do change it, I am usually making it wrong, instead of right. I could force myself to write through that. I could finish an entire novel that way – just plot, plod through, and proofread. But it wouldn’t feel “right,” and there would be no satisfaction.

So, I’m not going to do that. This book series, and these characters, are important to me, and I want to get back to a place where I do them justice. So, I am going to put Black Forest aside, take some time to regroup, and come back to it later. By giving myself such a long window, I know I will not have to change the release date again, which I hate doing.

And, once again, I apologize.

In summation:

Black Forest: Stories End
Released July 21, 2017

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