Monthly Forecast #11 — December, 2022

December 1st, 2022

 

I’m actually going to miss November. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say, but here I am writing it for all of you to read. I said in the last blog that November was usually a tough month for me. I’ve never been quite sure why, but my psyche tends to spiral in November for no apparent reason. This is out of character for me and really doesn’t happen with any regularity, so it’s always very jarring and difficult to deal with. I also said, in the last blog, that I hoped spending all month working hard on a novel I was passionate about would be the cure I’ve spent years looking for.

I’m happy to report I may have found my fix. There were a couple of tough weeks — the first and third, in particular, saw my psyche do some fairly unpleasant things — but it was the most steady I have been during November in years. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s one I will certainly be turning to on an annual basis going forward.

This month also drove home my pre-existing plan for 2023. I really want to write more original fiction next year, so I will be maneuvering my schedule in ways that make that possible. Which will probably mean more work for me, but I had so much fun this month that I can’t say I’m dreading it.

I won’t get into more specific plans quite yet because anything I wrote here would probably be too ambitious. I’ll need to play around with some things and figure out what will work best. Please note that I will not be sacrificing my output to do this — I don’t plan on posting any less in 2023 — but it is definitely something I will be doing.

I’ve put off this blog for the best part of a week because I was undecided on how exactly to do it. If you haven’t read my last few blogs and can’t tell already, I spent November focusing on a novel and not on fanfiction. This sort of means my usual format doesn’t work.

Normally I break these blogs into sections and go over each story individually. What I got written, how I feel about it, what I plan for the fic next month, and sometimes some general teases for non-patrons. I can’t exactly do that this time around since there was very little fanfiction to speak of.

I’ll try and cover fanfiction up front, that way anyone who doesn’t care about my novel and is only here to read about fanfiction can get a quick read in, then get on with their day.

I did spend the first four or so days of November working on fanfiction. I worked really hard in October to try and establish a complete backlog for November, but I was a couple of chapters short, so I had to write those early in the month. Both of those were CoP chapters and both were posted on Patreon. The reactions were overwhelmingly positive.

Speaking of overwhelmingly positive, patrons really liked the PoP chapters I posted in November. I was glad — it’s only the second month since Book 3 revisions wrapped up and Book 4 has been posting, so I’m thrilled the story’s fourth year has gotten off to such a strong start. It’s a step up in quality even from Book 3, I feel, so it’s nice to see patrons enjoying it.

I will be back to writing fanfiction next week. I have at least one more chapter of the novel I plan on finishing. I might write another after that, I might not — we’ll see how I feel. November was a good month overall, but it was exhausting. Not only because of the writing and whatnot — more on that soon — but also because I had some pretty serious familial drama creep up in the month’s latter half. That has taken more of my time and energy than I would like and has left me feeling a little bit drained.

That is the most frustrating thing of all. My motivation has literally never been higher — there’s nothing I want to do more than write this novel right now — but there have been a handful of days in the past week or two where it really hasn’t happened; either because I’ve lacked any real time, or because I have been mentally exhausted and the prose just isn’t flowing the way I’d like.

Whether I write another chapter after the one that’s currently in progress or not, I plan on giving myself the weekend off. I’m obsessive and I love writing, so I may write anyway, but I’m not going to put any pressure on myself. Maybe I’ll be productive, maybe I won’t — I haven’t given myself a dedicated day off since August, so I think I could use a couple of those.

That long-winded rant is me saying that, on Monday, I dive back into fanfiction writing.

My December plans are… ambitious. We’ll see if they actually go the way I envision them.

I will be travelling overseas a few days after Christmas and spending about three weeks abroad. I plan on having chapters pre-written so that they can be posted during my time away, but this basically gives me two weeks to produce content not only for those weeks, but for two more. I say two because I’m cutting myself some slack for the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I’ll probably just post a chapter of The Road to Hell on Patreon that I’ve had written since the summer that week.

I’ll talk a bit about January here, too, since next month’s blog will not be the typical Monthly Forecast. That will be my Year-In-Review Blog and I’m not sure how much time will be spent going over minutia like this.

I plan to focus on CoP this month, and probably in January. PoP will still be posted, but the bulk of my writing will be on Conjoining of Paragons. Patrons can expect four chapters of CoP in December, and probably another four in January. My hope is that six of these chapters will be written in December.

In a perfect world, I would also finish four PoP chapters, but we’ll see if that actually happens. I would really, really like to stop working on the solstice and have about a week at home before travelling abroad. That’s not a hard rule, though; I will write until the work is done or until I’m on a plane and out of time, regardless of my own selfish desires.

Except for Christmas — I’m fond of you all, but not work on Christmas kind of fond 🙂

If I can get those ten chapters done, that should give me a large enough buffer. I can probably write a little bit during the second week of January, then I’m back, so I’m not super worried. I just like having some built-in insurance and will not leave patrons hanging while I travel.

I would like to chime in here and say that you’ll probably notice a lot of Conjoining of Paragons-focused months coming up. That’s because I’m not terribly far from the story’s end and would like it wrapped up by the time summer blooms. That should be more than enough time — I actually hope it’s finished a couple months before that — but we’ll see how many words the story demands. I will not, under any circumstances, rush anything.

That’s about it for fanfiction this month. Anyone who is here exclusively to check in on my progress there can move on with their day if they so choose. Now I’m going to talk about original stuff in a little bit more detail than I have done before.

I have spent the past sixteen or so months sporadically working on a novel called The Gilded King.

There have been a lot of barriers. First it was transitioning into full-time writing. Not that itself — that was fantastic — but managing a schedule for it. I was very output focused the first number of months and gave myself next to no time for original fiction. I don’t regret doing that, but it hugely limited how much work I could do.

Then came early 2022, which was a bit of a mess. There were a lot of real life pieces moving around and taking up a lot of my time. Getting the fanfiction stuff finished and posted was more challenging than it ought to have been, so very little work got done on the novel.

I would say my first really good month this year for writing original fiction was June. I don’t have a word count noted anywhere, but I got a handful of chapters done in June while also writing the usual fanfiction stuff, so that was good. Coincidentally, this is also right around the time I decided that one week per month would be solely dedicated to original fiction. If you can’t tell, the correlation was not at all coincidental.

The problem is, I was vacationing in July and August, so I hardly got any writing done at all the next two months. The rest of August was spent catching up, September was the month of hellacious PoP Book 3 revisions, and October was obsessive pre-writing — plus a ton of administrative things that swallowed a large chunk of the month.

So then November came and I sat down to work on The Gilded King. A couple of things happened all at once.

The first thing was writer’s block — I got to a very difficult chapter and took about fifteen unsuccessful drafts at said chapter. I planned on writing some chapters from a different viewpoint while I figured that one out, but my ADHD decided to do something… beautiful.

A different idea came to me more complete and well-formed than any I have ever had. This wasn’t true in my early days, back writing the first bits of AoC in 2017, but I would say that I’m more of a discovery writer than an outliner.

I spend a lot of time worldbuilding and I know the plot’s general bullet points. I have a road map, you might say. I know which major events will happen and I know when they will happen. I know, for the most part, who lives versus who dies, whose romantic lives will look like what, where my characters end up, and all of that. But I don’t have specific scene-by-scene plans for large arcs. I have some ideas and I see how they flow — sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

One of the fun things about this style is that, sometimes, ideas just sort of come to you. This was that.

The roots of this idea came from several places. I mentioned last month that there was a short story I considered writing, but didn’t. That idea heavily influenced this novel and its larger series. It was actually where everything began — a combination of that, plus another idea that’s been building in my head that didn’t quite justify its own series. Those two things combined to form a character named Morean and the arc he’ll have through what looks like a ten book epic.

One of the characters came to me while going down some historical and mythological rabbit holes. Specifically Denmark in the early Middle Ages, Britain during the Dark Ages, and China back in ancient times. Not to say anything is lifted from any of these histories or mythologies. Most things are completely unrecognizable — though you can definitely see hints of Norse and Ancient Chinese mythology if you know where to look — but that was sort of where it started.

I suddenly had two very vivid viewpoint characters, and the rest came from there. Once a story is started in my head, the rest is easy.

So I found myself faced with a daunting choice. Continue working on The Gilded King, or dive head-first into a ten book epic whose general outline came to me over the span of several days?

My instincts told me I should work on that epic because, as a writer, you quickly learn that the best work you’ll do is on whatever’s occupying your mind that day. Not that you can always follow your whims — one of the things this past year of full-time writing has taught me is how to schedule and how to stick to it — but I felt that, in this case, I had something really special on my hands.

It also reminded me of a story George R.R Martin — the author of A Song of Ice and Fire and the man who I consider the world’s greatest living fantasy writer — has told numerous times.

In 1991, Mr. Martin had a break from his burgeoning career in Hollywood and was fed up by the limitations of film and television, so he began writing a science fiction novel titled Avalon. It was going pretty well until a completely unrelated scene popped into his head. That scene involved a young boy traipsing through summer snows — he insists he knew they were summer snows and that it helped him form the world quite early — watching his father take a man’s head, and then finding a cluster of dire wolf pups.

That was the basis for A Game of Thrones — maybe my favourite book of all time.

I’m not saying I went through with the idea just because George Martin once had a similar thing happen, but it was something I thought about.

I consider George Martin a mentor despite having never met him. I never took a class in creative writing and my prose was really bad back during the 2017 AoC days, and even the early CoP and PoP days. Then I decided to write full-time and really committed to honing my craft.

I might never have taken a class, but George Martin’s stories were the best textbooks I have ever read. I spent hours, days, and weeks pouring over his work and studying the way he wrote. I dissected his prose and analyzed minutia like his syllable patterning, his usage of assonance, his common transitionary diction, and all sorts of other stuff. I started growing in leaps and bounds once those studies started — even if they’re only a part of the larger reason.

I have done this with other works, too — those written by Robert Jordan and Guy Gavriel Kay come to mind — but not quite so extensively. I still do this on occasion — pop open one of Mr. Martin’s books, flip to a random page, and start analyzing. Brandon Sanderson describes doing something similar while reading The Wheel of Time, and I’m sure other authors have stories like these. We do it not to copy, but to improve and there is no better way of doing that than studying the people who do it best.

The point is that I have immense amounts of respect for George R.R Martin and knowing that the writer whose work I admire most went through something similar was very comforting to me.

Athena was also very helpful and pushed me to start writing this new tale and see where it took me.

That was one of the best decisions I made this year. I have NEVER had so much fun writing anything, and it is the best work I have ever done by miles and miles. I’m not sure about the exact word count, but I’m gonna call it 50,000 words in November. I might be just over or just under, but I’m damn close either way. Considering the first four days were spent writing fanfiction and that a lot of my time this month was spent building the world and not actually writing in it, that is a pretty good number.

I am incredibly pleased with this story so far — more pleased than I have ever been by anything I’ve written — and can’t wait to work on it more in 2023. I’m so pleased that I have actually submitted an excerpt into a professionally run writing competition. I won’t give too many details for doxing reasons, but if I actually somehow win said competition, this will become my first official publication, and there are other perks as well.

Full credit for this goes to Athena since she is the one who found the competition and convinced me to enter. Among the other perks is an editorial letter, plus some correspondence with a literary agent if I somehow manage to win the thing. I don’t expect to — I’m sure there are plenty of fantastic writers entering who probably have name value on their side — but it’s worth it for the editorial alone.

This is definitely something I will be doing more of in 2023 as I slowly turn my sights on the professional ranks. That day will come, but not all too soon. There’s plenty of fanfiction that needs writing first.

I plan to take a number of Novembers — months in which I exclusively write the novel after backlogging chapters so patrons have content — in 2023 and am beyond excited for what this tale will look like.

I doubt the manuscript will be finished next year because this book is already turning out longer than I expected, but I would like to have most of it done by this time next year. Then I would hope to finish draft 1 in 2024 and begin the revision process.

Hopefully I can execute this plan even faster, but that is my current projection. It really depends how many months next year I can spend working on nothing but the novel, and that will depend on how successful I am in backlogging and how often I can get enough chapters pre-written. There is a world in which I finish this book next year — but I worry that, in said world, I might be insane or suffer from crippling insomnia. Only time will tell.

The other big news in November comes in the form of our annual holiday fundraiser.

I will admit that, so far, it has not done as well as I hoped it would. I should have expected that given the current state of the world’s economy and the ongoing recession. People are also just a lot busier this year than they have been the last couple since the world is all but running normally again.

I’m still a little bit disappointed we won’t reach my hopes unless things really pick up in December because I’m a perfectionist who dislikes the idea of failure, but any money raised for a good cause is something worthwhile. I will always take pride in things like that, I’m just overly ambitious. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t — I will always dare to be great, even if I don’t always reach the heights I hoped.

I also planned on running a holiday-themed writing challenge on the server. The basic idea was that I would collect some prompts, throw them into a poll, select a winner, and have people publish their work. There was going to be a prize for the winner and I was going to promote this pretty heavily in the hopes of helping out some smaller authors, but I’m not sure whether this will happen or not now.

I put out the ping requesting prompts a week or two ago and it didn’t really pick up the traction I hoped for. There were only two submitted prompts I considered feasible and no more have come in. I may or may not do one more ping and see if the interest is there. Let me know if it’s something you guys would still like me to do.

If not now, I will probably do one in the spring and make it a seasonal thing. One thing I really want to do on the Discord server is start promoting writing in general. That means helping smaller authors, helping each other improve, and encouraging people to write. I thought this was a really good way of doing it, but the interest didn’t quite seem there. Not all that surprising given how many of our Discord writers are students and considering that exams are approaching for most of them.

I will mention two things here before signing off.

The first is that the Discord server has nearly acquired 5,000 members! I still have some hope we’ll reach 5k by January 1st, but I’m not sure we will. I will probably do something special for 5k members and might do something a little extra if we hit it before the 1st of January. That being said, please do not join using alt accounts just to help us reach that target — I want it legitimately and that kind of defeats the point.

This last thing is that I intend on doing a holiday giveaway. I would like to do one for patrons, but Patreon has some really baffling rules about giveaways that kind of defeat the point of doing them. My understanding is that I am not allowed to run Patreon-only giveaways and that all giveaways on their platform must also be open to non-patrons. There are some other really absurd restrictions that make absolutely no sense, too.

I’m going to look into this in the next week or two and see if I can work something out. I really want to do a larger Patreon giveaway, then a smaller Discord one. My appreciation for said patrons knows no bounds and it really sucks that the platform might not allow me to show that in this form. I’m exploring a potential workaround, but I have a feeling they would still take issue, so this might become one large giveaway for all Discord members. I apologize to my patrons if that happens — this one is sort of out of my control, but we’ll see what I can do.

I think that’s everything. This wound up being much longer than I expected. I worried there wouldn’t be enough content given that no fanfiction was written in November. I feared it might be so short that posting it would be redundant. Instead, I have written one of the longest blogs to date — maybe the longest, I don’t keep track of these things.

Best of luck to all students on your upcoming exams. The light is up ahead, you just have to make it through the tunnel. My thoughts will be with all my readers this holiday season.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Cheers,

Ace

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