Earlier this year I set the date for releasing the GOTN as the 19th June 2015 – also my 32nd birthday. Apologies to anyone dying to find out what happens to Shadow next, but I’m now abandoning this launch date and not setting a new one yet, except to say that I should hopefully be done by the end of the year.
My last few sessions of working on the Shadow’s Talent sequel have led me two big conclusions: firstly, I can’t set myself a specific date and work to a deadline on a project like this. Many authors can, and it did feel like a challenge and made me perhaps work harder on getting that book out of me, but it simply isn’t working, because of the second thing I’ve learned: I am writing a very different story to the one I’d planned to write, and believing I had enough control over the work to set myself this deadline was a mistake.
Besides, it was a new year’s resolution. Most writers make mistakes when they set fiction-related promises to themselves in stone. I’m breaking mine. No regrets. Making this change is slightly frustrating but equally exciting.
I’ve mentioned before that between 2010 and 2012 I wrote a 300,000 word scrawl of sci-fi ideas from which Shadow Hatcher emerged as the leading character. When I set out to write a series with him, going right back to the first really big thing in his life (the witnessing of a murder) I had my sights set on keeping the ending of that series, and the later books more or less the same as my original ideas. This changed, but during the last few days I’ve realised it hasn’t changed enough. I’ve been too caught up in the control-freaking problem of sticking to ideas I liked before but can no longer make work. So I’m going for something new.
The 135,000 words I currently have for GOTN are most emphatically NOT going in the bin. I think they’re good, even though they need a lot of work. What’s going to happen next is that Part II will take a very different direction to that which I’ve been planning, and indeed felt desperate to get down for about the last four months. The result is that when I reach the end, this novel is going to need another draft. I will never hope to get there by June with a work of this length and complexity.
This is why I’m abandoning that launch and not setting another one except to say that I should be done by the end of this year. Apologies to anyone dying to find out what happens to Shadow next, but I refuse to put out a book unless I consider it to be of the highest quality I can create.
Another independent author recently wrote to me ‘Get [the books] out as quickly as you can without compromising the quality.’ I think that’s a good work ethic, but the trouble is that that for me not to compromise the quality, I need a lot of time. By the standards of many authors, I’m not working quickly even if some of my friends will tell you there is no way anyone could accuse me of not writing enough.
I sympathise with the likes of George RR Martin who frequently get accused of not writing fast enough. I like Game of Thrones too, but having taken myself into the realms of complex and lengthy novel writing, I know that one cannot simply sit at a desk and churn writing all day expecting the problems just to solve themselves. Some of the best writing I’ve done came after taking a break and clearing my head. Being an author is not my day job or career, but even for the professionals I wonder why the approach should be any different, and sometimes I wish fans would trust in them saying they need time. Writing novels can occupy a person’s brain far more than is healthy sometimes. If it takes the time, sometimes this is the author’s way of staying sane about the whole thing.