I have the itch to write after having taken about a fortnight’s break since completing the fourth (and hopefully final) draft for The Book of Wind.
What do I choose to work on now, when there are so many unfinished projects looming overhead? This is what it feels like to be an author with ADHD, overwhelmed by indecision and fleeting time:
I’d love to continue working on a previously shelved project. I can always jump into revising The Book of Earth — that’s probably the most logical course of action, while I figure out (but actually procrastinate) how to properly query its predecesor.
But then that’s revising, not actual free form writing, and I have too many unfinished projects that I’d love to complete before I reach 80 years old — but thinking back when I wrote Earth’s first draft, it feels like yesterday, when really it was six years ago. Realizing that bring a swelling pain in my heart with a hopelessness that this series is still stewing and bubbling within the confines of my ancient laptop.
Then, there’s the Eri sequel, “Revenge of the Master”, and its eventual conclusion with a third book. Both are planned. I think about them every day — I’m not exagerrating. A really boring draft of RotM has been written. But Master of Monsters was such an emotional burden to write — it’s a LONG book, a dense one, at that. Not to mention, I was in my 20s when I wrote it, and I’m unsure that I have the unwavering emotional energy to delve into something that burdening any more.
Eri, The Monster Sealer is a really important series to me, and I ache to revisit it. So much good happens — Eri grows so much and discovers so much about herself that I’m sure young queer readers trying to figure themselves out can relate to. But I’m unsure if I can revisit the series, and that’s something that rakes coals over my soul.
Then there are the smaller projects — Heart of the Beast, and Helm’s Edge. Not to mention the Alita: Battle Angel review that I’ve been attempting to finish. I suppose it makes sense to tackle those.
I haven’t touched the unfinished structural rewrite of Helm’s Edge since 2014. While a third draft is complete, it and the reworked unfinished version are so completely different in style and tone, that I’ve considered releasing the third draft for free online. But the third draft was written by a less experienced E.E. Blackwood. And though I’m still proud of it, I’m unsure whether it is something that represents “good” quality, overall.
And producing quality work has always been important to me — which is why it takes like a full decade to complete a single book, first draft to final. Not to mention the numerous projects I’ve left abandoned, but think about most every single day.
It takes a whole decade to complete a single book.
A whole decade.
And those decades fly by, like windy motes.
God, being an author is difficult. I wrote ages ago (at least, I think I did — can’t find the post, now unfortunately) how it’s all right to have those unfinished projects hanging around — speaking specifically about the mangakas at CLAMP, and how they have a notoriously prolific path of unfinished projects trailing behind the likes of Cardcaptor Sakura.
Readers are so patient, bless them. There are authors who take whole decades between books in a given series, and readers will hang on, knowing that the time dedicated to writing slow-burning draft after slow-burning draft, though frustrating (especially when said authors decide to take a break and work on a different project), will hopefully be worth it in the end — and in most cases, that is so.
I feel like that is the perspective that I need to adopt: that it’s okay to take so long to write a book, because I’m putting all that I can into it, for the book to be the best that it can be. And, to an extent, I do hold true to that.
The problem, however, is that having so many unfinished projects gets to be overwhelming. I’m sure ADHD plays a part in this somewhere, and the fleeting of time is so everpresent, that sometimes it just feels easier to give up and focus on enjoying life for what little time left there is to enjoy it.
How many of you readers are artists, or writers? Do you ever feel stuck in this sort of cycle of self defeat and uncertainty when it comes to choosing which project to work on next? How do you cope? Do you talk it out with other artists? Do you try to figure it out on your own? Do you dive head-first and just swim the best you can?
I haven’t come to a real conclusion of what direction should be taken. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe this is just who I am as an author — and I just need to be more patient and forgiving with myself.
Maybe that’s it. Maybe when I go ahead and do just that — maybe the answer will come to me, all on its own.