September 1st, 2023
August was a variety pack. That’s the best way I can describe it. There was a lot of good bundled into the past thirty-one days, but I think in hindsight, that good will be overshadowed.
I announced in the last one of these that I would spend much of August travelling. I was upfront in saying that not much writing would get done, but that I had hoped the month would be restful and refreshing.
Things started well. Athena and I spent a handful of days visiting Reggie and that time was lovely. I won’t say too much in light of the risk of doxing, but I think all three of us really enjoyed that time. It was an excellent mix of tourism and leisure and really was the perfect start to the month.
Things continued going well when I returned home to see my family, Athena still alongside me. Seeing them again was the final piece I had needed. Finding it made me feel whole again for the first time after my great-aunt’s passing in late June. It was a relief and felt like the weight of mountains had been lifted off my shoulders. It wasn’t long before, with that weight removed, I was able to effortlessly enjoy the time with so many people that I love.
I probably should have realized that things were progressing far too well given everything this accursed year has thrown at both myself and also at Athena.
I awoke one Monday morning to find that her uncle, who had been battling stage four cancer for almost the entire year, was gone.
It was a nasty shock. I know many of you might hear stage four cancer and assume that we were prepared for that eventuality. I think we were, but not for it to come so soon. He had been doing really well.
Neither of us were ready for him to be gone. I won’t talk much about him since that really isn’t my place, nor will I claim my sorrow on this front comes anywhere close to matching Athena’s. What I will say is that I am grateful that I got to meet him, and I am happy we got to spend a fair amount of time together during those final months. It was one of the silver linings of Athena and I being stranded at her parents’ house for so long post-car accidents.
That dampened our trip. We had initially planned on departing my hometown on the 22nd, but instead, we left on the 17th and things did not get easier from there. The entirety of the next ten days was spent dealing with the fallout of Athena’s uncle’s passing. Perhaps most relevant to all of you, it deprived me of writing time, since I was only able to begin working again two days ago. Thankfully I had all but written off this month from a productivity standpoint already, but it was still unfortunate.
That really has been the buzzword for 2023. The year just keeps piling things on, and every one of them so far has been outside of my control. I think that’s what gets me the most. I always try and evaluate things in hindsight, wondering what I could have done better or improved upon. I am the furthest thing from perfect, but there is very little I could have done this year to ease the worst of what’s been thrown mine and Athena’s way.
That was the bad news, mixed in with a little bit of good. The bigger good news is that I think things are finally about to settle down. Athena and I will be moving into a new apartment in about a fortnight. There is going to be a lot of work involved in moving, and I have no doubt the few days after will be busy. Once that’s all done, though, I’m hoping that normality will finally be restored. I long to return to my 50–70 hour work weeks that have eluded me since April despite my best efforts. Now that the worst has come to pass in both mine and Athena’s families, I’m hoping routine can be restored.
I hope that not only for my sake but for all of you. I must admit that the awfulness of this year has left me desperately behind in the writing of PoP Book 4 and I have not yet written a single word for Road to Hell Part II. That is saying nothing of the delays experienced by my novel and my other, less concrete fanfiction projects.
Which I guess is the opening I need to discuss what you all came for.
I will mix things up a bit and begin by discussing Conjoining of Paragons.
This fic has, at last, concluded for Discord members. Typing that out is quite surreal. The story is far from perfect — I have lamented the lack of skill with which much of it was written countless times — but I do hope you all enjoyed it. I must admit that I expected a larger number of negative reactions when posting the epilogue. Patreon chat was quite divided following its release — I think that’s the tensest any of those channels have ever been.
This story’s conclusion obviously means that there will be no further uploads for Discord members. FFN and AO3 still have a few months worth of uploads left and those chapters will be revised some prior to their posting there, so you can always read the more polished versions as they release if you’re interested. Otherwise, I can only hope that you enjoyed the story and plead that you do not ask me for a sequel. I know what it would look like, but I will never write it. I just don’t have time; I have too many other projects.
I guess the next biggest thing that happened this past month in terms of my writing was that I posted the prologue and first chapter of Shattered Souls on Patreon. I have been asked a handful of times what this fic is about. Summarizing it is difficult, and honestly, I dislike summaries. I think a summary in the way that people think of it gives too much away, and a summary in the artistic sense is all but useless.
I will say this — Shattered Souls, while set to steeply diverge from canon sooner rather than later — is the closest thing you will ever get to what I think Harry Potter should have looked like had it been written for adults instead of children. Harry is in Gryffindor and it is technically set to cover all seven years, though first year is only 30,000 words long and I expect second year to be of similar length. The years will lengthen after that, but not to the extent of my other stories. This one will be faster-paced if it ever gets written.
There is no timeline for when Discord members can expect this story. Probably not for quite a while, if at all. I have written all of first year but none of second year. I would probably like to finish third year before posting any of it on Discord, and frankly, I’m not sure where I am going to find time.
That is why I would like to reiterate here what I made clear during last month’s blog. I have promised endings to both PoP and The Road to Hell, but I DO NOT promise that I will finish Shattered Souls. I would like to, but if I finish a trilogy of novels before that can happen, I will pursue the professional ranks without hesitation.
I will seize that segue and spruce things up a bit by discussing my novel.
I actually managed to write a couple chapters of it over the past two days. That has been an absolute joy, far above and much beyond any satisfaction I take in writing fanfiction. I admit that the biggest danger in me writing original fiction is that it does make crafting fanfiction feel less interesting. Particularly the fics confined by Rowling’s linear and repetitive structure.
I will VERY BEGRUDGINGLY shift focus away from my original work this coming month and back onto fanfiction, but come November, I am looking forward to seeing how much I can get done over the course of that thirty days. It really can’t come fast enough — writing these past two chapters was the most fun I have had writing since… well, probably since the last time I worked on this project 🙂
My primary focus this month will be PoP book 4. This is desperately screaming at me for more attention and I am growing more aware each passing month how little of this calendar year I have left. I have said many times that book 4 would be completed prior to the dawning of next year and that deadline is growing more and more stressful. I am still optimistic in projecting book 4’s completion sooner than the new year, but I am really going to have to put my foot down and get a lot of words inked onto paper soon if I want that to happen.
The next chapter of this should hopefully be written the same day this blog is posted, but we’ll see. I have a couple of real life obligations that are going to make that difficult. It sort of has to be done today though, since the chapter that is not yet written is scheduled to be posted on Patreon this coming Wednesday, and after today, I won’t be able to write until the Wednesday in question due to real life things that will keep me far away from my keyboard.
Then there is The Road to Hell. Not a whole lot to say here — it remains the best fanfiction I have put out, though I must admit — now that more chapters have been posted publicly — that a couple things I experimented with in this story haven’t quite worked out the way I had hoped. The most prominent of these is that the shorter chapters have been loudly rejected.
I sort of knew that this would happen. Fanfiction readers are a greedy breed — not that this is true of anyone reading this, of course 🙂 — and most of them are so accustomed to thoughtless word vomit that I don’t think they really understand how much time and effort well-written material demands. Not that I think Road to Hell is perfect. It’s not even the best thing I have written — that would be my novel — and I am FAR from the pinnacle of good writing.
What I didn’t expect was the reason for the short chapters being so disliked.
Many readers have complained about pacing. This perplexed me at first because Road to Hell moves fast. I would actually describe the pacing as aggressive and my beta readers have, without exception, agreed with me.
But when receiving chapters week by week, readers don’t see the story in its entirety, nor do they remember the subtler things contained in the most recent offering. This has led to what I consider a misguided, but an understandable, warping of their perception when it comes to pacing.
That is my fault. Undoubtedly, inarguably my fault. Not because I paced the story poorly — I reject that notion and am proud of this story’s pacing — but because I failed to identify that variable and thus did not account for it. I can only apologize for that oversight. Road to Hell Part I has already been written, so there isn’t a whole lot I can do there, but you all have my word that, in the future, I will do my best not to make this mistake again — whether that means longer chapters or a more tangible, heavy handed sense of progress than is contained in the early stages of Road to Hell.
If you are one of the readers who have voiced these complaints, the one thing I can tell you is that I think the problem will soon fade. Things become a lot more eventful around chapter 14, and from then on, there is a built-in mechanism with which progress can be measured. I think, from that point on, my oversight won’t matter much.
While we’re discussing the shortcomings of my writing, I should mention that my editor, Athena, has complained about the amount of internal dialogue contained within The Road to Hell.
She is right that there is too much. I actually knew that all along, but I purposefully proceeded because I wanted to experiment. I wanted to really buckle down and see how efficient I could be with the telling of a story, and how grounded in the characters I could make that story.
I would never use a quarter of the internal dialogue in a novel that I use in this story. I think there were… three instances of internal dialogue during the two original chapters I wrote over the past couple of days, and all of them were short sentiments spanning less than a full sentence.
I actually think the excess of internal dialogue works relatively well in this specific case — though it should probably be cut down some — but I would be curious to hear from readers since no one has really commented on it other than Athena.
You will probably continue seeing quite a bit of internal dialogue in things like Road to Hell and PoP, and probably in the first two years of SS if they ever see the light of day. Not so much in the post-Hogwarts fic I have mentioned though, and certainly not in my own original fiction.
Like many things put into my fanfiction, it was an experiment I am happy to have conducted and it has made me a better writer. That is what matters most to me, at the end of the day — I am new in this game and it is a marathon, not a sprint.
That’s about it on the writing front. Once in the new apartment, I will have a proper office and am planning to set up a station where I can record audio again. I haven’t really had one of those during the past twelve or so months, which is why things like podcasts and weekly updates stopped releasing. I think it’s unlikely that podcasts will be making a return any time soon — not because I don’t want them to, but because they are such a logistical hassle. I do hope to restart the weekly updates some time this fall. Hopefully in October, but we’ll see. I would also love to record broader videos such as book reviews — something I have talked about more times than I can keep track of — but the problem there is video editing. I just don’t have the time to do it myself, nor does Athena these days. Time will tell what happens there.
It is growing late and I have a busy day tomorrow — today, when you’re reading this — so I will cut it off here.
Thank you all, as always, for an amazing month. It was my most successful in a while, and I hope that despite August’s grimness, that the upturn is a mark of things to come.
Enjoy the dawn of autumn, you lot.