[Author's note: the first draft of this blog post was written on on January 1st, 2017]
As I start writing this post, the default title for it seems self-evident. I've been struggling to come up with ideas to blog about for the past several months. But the obvious thing to do on this date is to post about making a New Year's resolution to complete the manuscript for Hemlock and the Maker's Fire (book four and final volume of the Maker's Fire series)!
Well, I'm pleased to report that this won't be necessary, because I have already completed it! I finished the manuscript during the break between Christmas and New Year's. I have sent it off for beta reading, and I've decided this would be an auspicious occasion to break my recent silence and post an update with this (hopefully exciting) news!
I am pleased with how the story turned out. I was worried that the planning that was necessary to bring the story to a satisfying ending might constrain the free-form writing process I like to employ. But this didn't turn out to be the case. In fact, there were some surprises near the very end--even for me. As schizophrenic as this sounds, I wrote some revelatory passages, and just sat back and said to myself: "Really?" But then I thought about what had sort of just ended up being written (in as close to a spontaneous fashion as possible) and I started to nod my head affirmatively. Not only did the surprising idea mesh with the plot and backstory--it felt right.
This book also marks the point where I discovered that writer's block is a real thing and I can be vulnerable to it. Despite my best attempts to keep a positive spin on things in my most recent blog posts, I simply wasn't writing, and I now feel I was in real danger of torpedoing the manuscript by letting it sit unfinished for too long.
Before this point I hadn't grappled with being blocked. Maybe it had something to do with trying to come up with an ending to a series that lived up to what had come before in prior volumes and my own expectations. It's also a fact that things were happening in my personal life that presented a real distraction: both temporally and emotionally. But, the thing is, I don't think I should have stopped writing altogether like I did. If I ever hit a similar situation again, I think it would be much better to carve out small blocks of time just to write something--anything. I think writing just enough to keep the creative embers glowing is important. Fortunately, I was able to pick this project up and complete it fairly easily once I did finally make the time. But I won't take that for granted ever again. I liken it to losing my balance around the edge of a cliff. Maybe I wasn't in danger of actually falling, but if the same thing had happened a few feet closer to the edge, then who knows?
The Maker's Fire series of novels were written over a ten year period. I guess, when I really think about it, every period of my life over those ten years is probably reflected in the story. But that reflection is more on the micro level. The macro level story was conceived early in the process. although the details did evolve. The initial one hundred pages or so of Book One were totally off the cuff, but after that some "vectors" informing and predicting the overall plot arc did begin to form. Some of them didn't even make sense to me at the time. For instance, the implications of Hemlock's early visions of the Black Dragon stirring were not fully planned out when first written. But I soon "discovered" what they meant as I imagined each unfolding layer of the story. This is part of the mysticism of writing that I like to believe in. I wrote about those draconian visions because I knew Hemlock's use of her powers was having some effect in the larger universe; and, later, my imagination filled in what that was and how it fit into the story. It was like an off the cuff riff in a musical jam session that later got (seamlessly?) woven into the tapestry of the story. I really enjoy that aspect of writing.
Now it's on to editing and cover imagery and all the other fun stuff that comes with publishing. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!