October 1st, 2023
September was, in many ways, the month I have been waiting for. This is the first time since June, if not April, that I can report progress of which I am truly proud.
I got a lot done in September. I wrote about a dozen chapters, I got back onto the reading wagon that I had somewhat fallen off of, I moved houses, and I managed to keep up on things like The Road to Hell audiobook throughout all of that.
I wish those were the only facets of September that I felt obligated to discuss. If they were, this blog would be straightforwardly uplifting in a way that these blogs have not been in months.
But I do feel obligated to discuss more than that because I love and respect you all, and the last thing I want is for these blogs to become disingenuous. As such, this will probably be among the ramblier of these Monthly Forecast-style blogs. Once, I apologized when I thought that would be the case, but the more of these I write, the more I realize that’s what a portion of you are here for.
But a portion is not all, so I will begin with the positives and discuss fanfiction-related progress.
All of that comes in the form of PoP book 4. I got six chapters of this written during September. That might not feel like all that much, but the last chapter was about two-and-a-half times longer than the usual, and the one before that was quite long, too. Given that and the hectic nature of moving, I am pretty happy with what got written in September.
I have nearly finished the Durmstrang section of this year, which is sort of crazy to think about. Soon I will have the characters arrive at Beauxbatons. That middle section of the year will be the shortest by a fair margin, as I have said before. Its focus will be narrower and much less needs establishing; thus, it can be handled more concisely. This is often the section I cite when making estimates as to when I may finish because its presence means that I have less still to write than most readers imagine.
All that being said, I will admit that there is no way this year will be finished by Halloween like I had hoped. It would have been had 2023 resembled normality, but too much has gone on — from car accidents, to deaths, to travelling, to moving, and to something I will discuss a little bit later in this blog.
I hesitate to give another estimate as to when this will be done. I have seen some people on the Discord server theorize that it will take me the best part of twelve months from now. I can, at least, assure you all that this is not the case.
I think October will reveal a lot regarding ETAs. I plan on writing a dozen or more chapters of this before I write the next blog. I have a feeling that will have me past the Yule Ball, from which point things will start moving very fast. That will, however, have me in November — which I would really like to spend focusing on my novel.
There is not a whole lot to say regarding the other fics, other than that, at this point, I think it’s pretty safe to call both AoC and FoF abandoned. It really just comes down to time. I want to be a professional novelist, not a fanfiction writer. Finishing these stories would delay that transition by a number of years, and that just isn’t something I am willing to do at this stage.
I am sympathetic to those who enjoy these stories, and all of those people have my sincerest apologies. I was not exactly thinking long-term back when those were first written, and it can be said that I took on too many projects all at once. That would actually be one of my biggest pieces of advice to new writers — start with one project that you really focus on, then if it’s going well, start another. Unless the circumstances are exceptional, I would not recommend starting a third. Let alone a fourth or fifth — there was a point when I technically had five ongoing fanfictions of epic length, not to mention one-shots and work on original content.
And this is probably where I should transition into the bit of this blog that I am a little nervous to put out there.
I have been thinking more and more about the long-term lately. It is difficult not to after losing two people to cancer in the past several months, and then committing to a move across the continent.
The more I think about the long-term, the more I realize that what I really want to be doing is writing novels.
This is not to say I don’t enjoy writing fanfiction, or that I am about to just stop working on it. Neither of those things are true.
But I would be lying if I said that portion of my work was as fulfilling as it once was. I have fallen in love with writing, not just storytelling. Given the nature of fanfiction, it is rare the actual writing is appreciated.
That is frustrating.
Not because I am some incredibly talented writer who deserves literary acclaim — I do not think that in the least — but because it feels like time invested into the actual writing is wasted.
And I think that’s really what it comes down to — understanding, of course, that I refer to the average fanfiction reader. If you are reading this blog, then you are invested well past that and don’t really fall into this category, more likely than not.
The nature of fanfiction is just so fickle, more so now than ever. It is less about what is written than it is how closely that matches what the reader has come to expect.
I have often said that fantasy is escapism, and that is what I try to portray in my fanfiction. But it’s not really what the common fanfic reader wants. They want wish fulfilment, and that is very different and not something I am interested in writing. It just feels like the only way one’s work is broadly appreciated in fanfiction is if you write an unrealistically competent Harry, and/or weave in tropes that are perpetually popular, or else trends that are ongoing.
I mean, my most popular story is an overly competent Slytherin Harry and is a tropey heap of shit from a writing standpoint. There are exceptions there, don’t get me wrong — the Weitts, the byplay between Harry and both forms of Riddle, the elements of mystery, etc — but the fact that is my most popular story is a strong microcosm for the state of fanfiction.
I would like to make two things pointedly clear before I continue.
The first is that I am not saying this state is a bad thing. Of course fanfiction is wish fulfilment. Me saying that does not degrade the niche, nor does it detract from its value or the intellect of readers. I am not saying that fanfiction readers are mindless — I have met some very smart people who read fanfiction — it’s just that, if you’re reading fanfiction, you probably don’t want to be treating it like traditional literature. And that is both expected and a wonderful thing in its own way; it can just be really frustrating as someone who is trying to improve or do things differently. It can lead to a feeling of stagnation and of repetitious fruitlessness, and that is difficult.
The second thing I would like known is that this frustration is not about analytics. I don’t really care all that much how many follows or favourites a story has. If I did, I would be milking Ashes of Chaos and running the same tried and tested formulas that bring other authors consistent success irregardless of quality or repetition. There are a hundred things I could do if I just wanted to boost analytics, but none of them interest me.
It’s about fulfillment, and numbers don’t really play a part in that for me. Sure, it’s nice to see big numbers beside your story, but it doesn’t really matter to me. I am far more interested in the artistic side of things, and that is just naturally and understandably absent in the realm of fanfiction more often than not. It is also just about freedom. I detest the confining nature of fanfiction. It was a useful crutch three years ago, but now, it just leaves me feeling crippled and bitter off and on.
I would like to reiterate that this is not, in any way, me trying to say I think I am too good for fanfiction. I am not. It is more so saying that I think my interests and intentions have moved past this niche and into broader things I think will be more fulfilling and that will get me closer to where I really want to be.
There is also the messy business going on with lawsuits against AI companies over copyright.
I am a little bit wary of waiting too long to transition into novel writing, given the growing prevalence of AI. While I don’t think it will ever truly take over the market in the way that many fear, I do think it is flooding editors’ inboxes more and more each passing day and that it is making things more difficult for those with any proper shred of talent.
I also think that fanfiction as a niche is going to come under a certain degree of scrutiny as a result of these lawsuits. I would not be surprised in the slightest if Open AI used fanfiction as a justification for violating the laws of copyright. I think that scrutiny will only intensify the level of disdain certain literary minds hold for fanfiction and will only make it more difficult to become published if you are a fanfiction author.
I have always hoped to leverage the following I have garnered when negotiating things like book deals, but I would not be surprised if that is viewed as a stronger negative than it is a positive before too long. That is saying nothing of how this might impact sites like FFN or AO3. I think the latter is probably pretty safe, but the use of ads on something like FFN might come under fire. Which is a little silly because they are not violating any laws in doing so, but the reality is, they don’t have to be. Lawyers just need to make a convincing enough case given how grey the lines are when it comes to this sort of thing.
All of that has had me very down on fanfiction, as of late. That is probably why I have written five chapters of my novel in the past week and why I am struggling to pull my attention away from it long enough to focus on fanfiction.
It’s a difficult spot. I have voiced my intentions to finish both PoP and The Road to Hell on numerous occasions, but the more time progresses, the more I regret saying those things and the more I really want to be pursuing a professional career.
This is all mostly rambling. I am getting back to PoP next week and will be prioritizing that for much of October. As I said above, I hope to write a dozen chapters of it during this next month. But I think that, going forward, I will spend more time focusing on my novel, and I’m not so sure I will wait for the trilogy to be written before seeking publication. It might be that, upon the completion of book 1, I begin pursuing that.
That should not impact any of you during the short-term. Even if I spend a lot more time focusing on the novel, patrons will still get their chapters every week, and so will Discord. It might just mean that I won’t be so far ahead of them, and that I transition into the professional ranks sooner than I had been planning to.
I’m aware many of you might read this and grow frustrated. I don’t begrudge you that and completely understand where that might come from. All I ask is that you try and understand where my frustration and my wariness comes from, and also know that these frustrations aren’t going to change anything for you guys any time soon. I just have too much respect and gratitude for all of you not to be transparent when it comes to things like this.
And I am still excited to post fanfiction. Patrons are getting a really fun PoP chapter quite soon that I am eager to put out. That’s the one that turned out nearly thrice the length of my normal chapters. As for Discord members, Road to Hell is about to get really fun for you guys, so I’m excited to usher that story forward.
Thank you all so much, as always. Regardless of futures or frustrations, I would not have reached this present without you all, and anything I achieve inside the field of writing is owed to all who have supported me thus far. I hope you all continue enjoying the fanfiction stuff for now, and in the future, I hope you will support my novels with all the enthusiastic vigour I have been blessed with these past handful of years.
Happy Autumn, everyone, I hope that you enjoy the months to come and avoid all the illness that unfortunately accompanies them.