It's a running joke at this point that George R.R. Martin is taking a long while to write the next book in his mega popular "A Song of Ice and Fire" series (the basis for Game of Thrones on HBO). I feel strangely caught in the middle of this debate, because like George I have an insistent fan base (two of them, actually - one for Sanctuary and one for Girl in the Box) desirous of the next entries in the series. The most ardent voices in each camp don't acknowledge the other series, either because they don't read it or because they genuinely don't know it exists.
On the other hand, since last April I've published 6 (soon to be 7) books in one series (Girl in the Box), two in another (Champion and Crusader). So, from that perspective, I assume George is tied up with other projects or is simply enjoying his life with the advantages all his newfound wealth brings him.
Or he could simply be touring the country, destroying those who annoy him:
That's the great Neil Gaiman who comes out at the end, by the way. Amazing writer. What do the two of them have in common? A lot, I'm sure. They've also written (at most) one novel per year for their fiction careers. Stephen King occasionally puts out two, like this year, with Joyland and Dr. Sleep. He's got the sway to pull it off, too, as most big publishers don't want to put out an author's books at a quicker pace than that, not without co-authors like Patterson gets. There's still a perception out there that good writing can't be fast writing from some quarters. I've read a few reviews of my own books where the genesis of their dislike starts with the words, "It came out too fast after the last volume," ignoring that previous volumes that were enjoyed by the review's author were written in *less* time. If you're going to hate something, do it on the merits of the work, not the time it took to write.
That's rather aside from the original point of this post, though. I received a comment this morning, a quite nice "Write faster!" invocation, which I *should* take as a compliment, right? It's essentially a fan saying, "I enjoy your work and would like to read the next volume now, were it possible!"
I'm tired and crabby, though (four hours of sleep is too little, even for me, on a week such as this), so I didn't take it that way. I got defensive and irritable, and snapped back an ill-considered reply. (Incidentally, Aimee, if you're reading this, I apologize for that. Really. I'm usually not such an ass. Mostly.) What I should have said, in a more measured and patient way, is this:
I know you want the book out faster. Here are the projects I'm currently managing:
Crusader Paperback - Newly released, and the paperback blew up on me in every way possible. It took until yesterday to finally get it approved for sale, and that's after Nick (my wizard of a formatter) had been working on it all weekend, including a marathon session on Sunday to try and find a solution to the page limits imposed on it by the print company.
Untouched Audiobook - I spent most of Sunday getting the final approval done for this, listening to all the tracks for errors and other problems. It took a good portion of the day, but I got it done.
Soulless Audiobook - I spent a couple hours on Sunday just hashing out the terms and conditions of the contract on this one with the narrator. It's entering production now.
Defender Audiobook - I had to listen to 47 auditions and narrow down who I wanted for the part. It took almost all of Monday night, but around midnight I figured it out. We went into negotiations and ironed it all out, getting the book started into production yesterday morning.
Enemies - Since we're not on Facebook, I'm going to say this - here and here alone: I finished the final draft of this book yesterday morning after a marathon three day final draft. Carien Keevey told me she thought it was her new favorite of the series. It's in the hands of my editor, now, and will be for a matter of weeks (not sure how many). The it'll go to formatting, and finally upload, so don't get antsy, because I don't know how long that chain will be. As far as I'm concerned, it still won't be available until fall, in case something horrible happens in that process and it gets delayed. I'm pretty well done with it on my end, though.
Southern Watch, Book 1 - First draft is written. It needs to be read through and edited, which I will do once I finish the first draft of...
Thy Father's Shadow: Knight of the Shadows, Book 1 - I'm starting the first draft of this Terian novel today.
Oh, and I'm supposed to do a speaking engagement tomorrow for an old friend. Totally forgot about that. I should probably write down what I'm going to say sometime very soon. I could maybe do it off the cuff, but it'd be best if I didn't.
I also have to update my sales numbers weekly and answer all my mail. Some days that takes a while. Some days it takes no time at all. Same with Facebook and Twitter. Generally, I have a lot of fun with those. Same with blog interactions. If I'm not in a crabby mood, that can be a real blast. If I am, it's generally best if my anti-social ass avoids that responsibility for a day (I don't, but I do breathe deeper before making a post - generally.)
I'm not asking you to feel sorry for me or anything like that. I love this stuff, I do, or I wouldn't obsess over it like I do. I'd put in forty hours a week and call it good, like a lot of folks do with their jobs, instead of staying in my office until after 11 pm every night this week save for one (I had to sleep that night. Really bad. Crash.) and working all weekend to get Crusader out and that audiobook taken care of. I'm not even asking for patience, because if you're reading this blog, odds are good you're already one of the people who suspects/knows how much I'm trying to balance, so you're already patient. I appreciate that, by the way. You're more patient with me than I am with myself.
What I'm trying to say is that unlike George R.R. Martin...I kind of want to be your penmonkey (I won't say b-, but it's close). I want to write all these books, and I want to write them faster (without compromising the quality of the stories by throwing out first draft stuff). Lately, I have a hard time switching off. I have a hard time leaving the world of my books, my writing career stuff. I'm not delusional or anything, it's just my escape, and I love it. I sit and write out my publishing schedule while I'm sitting next to my kids while they're watching TV. I try and figure out ways to close the distance. How can I get the 8th volume of Sanctuary out before 2016 and still write all the other books I need to write? (That's relegating some other projects I'd really *like to write* to nights and weekends/spare time projects, by the way.)
I don't know quite how to manage it, and I feel a bit like Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg's character in the brilliant classic Hot Fuzz) in that I don't know how to switch off. It's always another thing, another item to tick off the checklist (my website needs to be updated with new links to Crusader, Broken and Alone's Audibook, I just remembered. #*$&. Add it to the list. I should write blog posts more often, they remind me of all the stuff I need to do, apparently).
I know you'll all give me the time I can to get it done, and I'm thankful for it. In return, I promise I'll have it all out as soon as I'm able. The gentle pushing is mostly taken in the spirit in which it's intended, but if I occasionally snap, I apologize in advance. I want to let you know again how much I appreciate it all - all the support, all the comments (even if it takes me a few minutes to get to my senses about them), all the interaction. Art doesn't happen in a vacuum (or whatever I create, if it's not art) and without the interactions of fans I'd just be a sad little man talking to himself a not small portion of the time. Which, uh...well, that's not healthy.
Now, if you'll excuse me, uh...I got some work to get to...