You don’t know how beautiful you are

Get On Your Boots – U2

Oh, look! Ian’s updating his blog again! Something must have changed.

Well, no, not exactly.

I’m at a kind of crossroads right now as far as what to do next. I’m nearly caught up to the part of The Archmage where the pages are blank and the story isn’t finished. That is the crux of my dilemma. I’ve been either consciously or unconsciously avoiding any new writing by editing pretty much nonstop since December 1st. Pariah’s Moon was the last new writing I did, and that was only a NaNo book (although in my own defense, I’ve been editing it at work because we’re really slow and I have a BlackBerry, and it’s kind of scary to look back at what might very well be some of the best writing I’ve ever done and not find much to edit out on the first go-through). If I continue on with The Archmage, I’ll have to write new stuff. But should I? Aye, there’s the rub…

The Archmage is part of the Just Cause series of books, and would be the fourth one I’d have at least a first draft completed (the others being Mustang Sally, Deep Six, and Enter The Jackrabbit in case you have a scorecard to fill out). Not one of those books has been published, and given the current state of the publishing industry, I’m not likely to see one published unless I do it myself. Should I finish yet another Just Cause book that may wind up another self-published failure a la The Milkman, which has been a disappointment to me pretty much from the get-go? If I did opt to self-pub the Just Cause books, knowing what I now know about self-publishing and What Not To Do, I think I could get a pretty decent product out there, but ultimately they will not be in bookstores and will be so heavily discounted by online retailers (Yes, I’m talking to you, you teabaggers at Amazon) that I will likely never earn back my investment, even if I can produce the books on the cheap (and I can, because I have connections).

To get the special pricing structure on future books, I would need to move The Milkman from its current “home” at iStupidverse to another POD service called Booklocker. If I was to do that, I would want to release a Special Edition – a “Director’s Cut”, if you will, loaded with special features like commentary, soundtrack listing, deleted/extended/extra scenes, bloopers, etc., because I don’t want to simply rerelease the same book with a new cover. I want it to be worthwhile for people who might have already bought the original book to pick up the new edition. Basically, I’d give it full Lucasizing.

The long and short of it is that if I want to self-pub the Just Cause series, which I think will be a good business decision and get a product out there which readers will enjoy, even if they aren’t the readers who happen to control the publishing industry, I will have to retool The Milkman. That means even more rehashing of my work and editing and rewriting and not really producing any brand-new manuscripts. Right now I’m not feeling the need to write new stuff, but I can tell I will be soon, and I have to juggle my time enough as it is.

The alternative to the plan I’ve just laid out would be to set aside my beloved superheroes and write something brand spanking new. What would I write? Not a sequel to Troubleshooters (and I have one in mind called Sins of the Mother) or a sequel to Pariah’s Moon (Pariah’s War, anyone?), because I’ve learned it’s foolish to write sequels to unpublished work without an agent getting you the multi-book deal. I have a couple ideas to kick around, but nothing that’s taken my by the throat, dragged my heart through the dust, and kept me awake at night. At least, not yet.

What would you do?


  1. I won’t tell you what I think you should do. But, if it were me in your shoes, I would finish the editing but not start new projects for a short time. I would just read. Soak in new words, new worlds. Let my mind relax and let go of expectations and the sef-imposed pressure to succeed. Eventually (for me, 6 weeks) I will have ideas forming and manifesting themselves and one of them will take hold and I will write without feeling like I’m working.

    My only advise for you is to take a break for a bit and let your batteries recharge.

  2. Well, I know nothing of the writing/publishing world, so anything I say would just be pure crap. So all I can say is to do what you feel in your heart.

    If you don’t feel ultra-inspired to write something new, go with Rachel’s advice and take a break.

  3. I’m with Rachel on this. Hon, you’re at a bit of an impasse at the moment. I can’t express enough my misgivings with the self-publishing industry because of the disservice it ultimately does to the artists. I feel that once you write the book that reels in an agent (and you WILL… TS or PM may in fact be that book), that will be the time to pass them your hero fiction and say “Please sell this for me.” Every successful author has a bunch of trunk novels that are released years after he or she becomes successful in the market. I’d much rather see this be the fate for your Just Cause books than to see you toil away trying to sell them yourself in a market that is ultimately unforgiving and disappointing. Or consider other small presses. You may not make much money at it, but it would help you gain more legitimacy as a published author.

    I agree with Rachel that you should finish your current projects and then take a break. You need to spend some time away from your own words for a bit. You need time for rest and reflection. The most important thing a writer can do for him or herself is to read. See or do something completely different, something that inspires you. Discover a new author in a genre you haven’t much explored. I always get most inspired when I’m reading or editing OTHER people’s work, rather than my own. I guarantee that once you rest your brain, the sort of idea that slaps you over the head and keeps you awake at night will come to you. And what to do regarding your current predicament may seem that much clearer as well.

  4. Tough call because from what I’ve read and heard – a writer should never quit writing material. So – taking a break? I don’t know. Definitely finish editing what you have and maybe take a mini-vacation and see if something else inspires you.

  5. 1) Stuck.

    2) Material not selling.

    3) Don’t have new directions you want to go but not sure about going the same direction.


    Level your writing. Unless your ego is your biggest appendage 🙂

  6. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said, but I like Allie D’s take. So…what Allie D. said.

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