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I know it’s been forever and a day since I last posted here. You’d think that I haven’t been writing, but the truth is I have. I just haven’t been writing romance. I told you guys about getting burnt out two years ago, which is true, but there’s more to it than just burn out.
The industry has changed dramatically in the last three years. A lot of publishers are no longer buying romances and those that are buying aren’t giving writers the best deals (understatement). Readers are buried under mountains of ‘To Be Read’ piles. Mountains that they’ll never get out from under. (And yes, I’m speaking from experience. Mine puts Everest to shame.)
Self-publishing has been a blessing and a curse. I’ve made more self-publishing than I ever did selling to New York. But in order to make a living (yes, this is my job), I had to write faster than I was used to writing. I sped up, but I never seemed to be fast enough. I would inevitably receive an email within a day of my new release asking me when the next book would be available. It was lovely in the sense that readers were eager to read the next book, but it left no time to celebrate. I was immediately thrown into must start the next book mode.
While this was happening, I noticed a drop in sales. I know there were many factors for this (ie more self-publishers, the rise of free books, algorithm changes, dropping of quality, not advertising enough, competition from other media sources, etc.) I was busting my butt to write book after book and seeing less and less money for my effort. It’s normal for publishing to be feast or famine. That’s just the nature of the business. I understand this and have begrudgingly accepted it, but it did make me ask myself a very important question: Why am I doing this?
And for the first time, I didn’t have an answer.
I wasn’t getting any joy from the writing. I wasn’t getting paid. I was getting little to no feedback other than demands for the next book/s. Worst of all, I was putting off writing books that I’ve been wanting to write for YEARS. Books that excited me, but I had no time to work on because I couldn’t keep up my romance release schedule and write my passion projects at the same time. There are only so many hours in the day and only so many days in a life.
Something had to give…and it was me.
I hit a wall with the romance. And it’s a wall I haven’t been able to get over or go around yet. I have tried multiple times to finish the two series that I started. I’ve written chapters in both series, but have been unable to complete the books. Every time I pick them up, something inside of me shuts down. HARD. So after several false starts, I picked up one of my passion projects and a miraculous thing happened–the joy returned.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried. I seriously cried because for so many months I thought I’d never enjoy writing again. The voices were gone. (Unless you’re a writer, you have no idea how frightening that is.) So when they returned, I wept.
The moment was bittersweet though because the writing that is bringing me joy these days isn’t romance. There is no crossover between the genres. If I continue to pursue this route, I’ll be disappointing readers who mean a lot to me. Readers who’ve supported me and loved my books. Readers who have brought me joy. I hate disappointing anyone, but I especially hate the idea of disappointing my readers.
So I find myself at a crossroads. Do I stay with what has in the past earned me a good living or do I take a leap into oblivion and hope that a net appears?
As you might’ve noticed from the last blog post in…2016, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. I’d love to say it was self-imposed, but the truth is since the end of 2015 I’ve been suffering from a case of severe burnout. There are many factors that led to that state (ie writing too fast, trying to publish too often, wearing too many hats, putting off projects I’ve been wanting to work on for YEARS, etc.). The ultimate reason behind it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it happened and it was mentally crippling. A few months after the burnout started, my Dad passed. So life’s been interesting…
I was so freaked out over not writing that I actually signed up with an online editing/coaching service. I did it, so I’d be held accountable. The truth is, that service was my last hope. I genuinely looked at it that way. I knew that if I couldn’t write using the service I was going to have to walk away from writing and do something else. What would I have done? I had no idea since I’d never imagined my life without writing. Luckily, it didn’t come to chicken farming. (Yes, that was on my list of “possible” careers, if I was forced to leave writing. If that one surprises you, you should see the rest of the list. *g)
Thanks to Author Accelerator and my weekly editor coach, I was able to write again. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I didn’t write any of the projects that you guys have been waiting so patiently for. Given all the changes to the world in the last year and a half, I needed to work on something different, something bigger, something that challenged me as a writer and hopefully made the world a better place. So I wrote a children’s fantasy novel. I plan to shop it to agents in the next couple months. It isn’t a book I feel comfortable self-publishing.
What does this all mean? I honestly don’t know. I have re-charted the books I started for you all. One has 8500 words written and the other has a couple thousand. I WANT to finish them. Really, REALLY want to finish them. I don’t want to disappoint you guys. But every time I pick those projects up to work on them, I feel a deep-seeded fear that the burnout/block will return and it scares the pajamas off me. Is it psychological? Probably, but I cannot move forward on those books until I figure out how to deal with the fear. I hope you guys understand. If you don’t, I understand. Thanks for reading.
Hi All, I know I’ve been pretty quiet, other than a random comment here or there on FB and Twitter, but there’s a good reason for that (and no, it’s not political 😉 excuse me while I scream into a pillow LOL). At the end of last month, I signed up with a one-on-one coaching company. This particular company isn’t for life-coaching. It’s specifically for writers, who want to work on craft and finish a book.
See I’d reached a point in my writing career where I’d SERIOUSLY questioned whether to continue. I’ve had a really bad case of writer’s block that started last summer and lasted through July of this year. To say it’s been crippling is an understatement. Life without the ‘voices’ in my head has been difficult. Couple that with the sh*t storm that is 2016 and it’s been pretty awful.
I tried everything to overcome the block (ie timers, writing at different times of day, changing stories, etc.), but nothing worked. What I did know, was that my writing wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I also knew that in order to get it to where I want it to be, I needed help. So I signed up with Author Accelerator to work one-on-one with an editor on the various craft issues I have. One of the things they ask you to do is set aside the books you have been writing and pick one of the story ideas you haven’t done a lot of work on. Believe it or not, that was hard, since I’ve been in the middle of the Pit Fighters for MONTHS.
I’ve been working with my editor for a little over thirty days and have written 10K, which for me is a frakking miracle. It’s also a LOT slower than I used to write. I’m having to relearn how to think about story, character, and craft. One of the biggest realizations is that I enjoy writing a lot more when I slow down and give the stories time to evolve.
I know there are readers out there waiting for the next books in my ongoing series. I really appreciate your patience and understanding. I know some of you have given up on me–and that’s okay. I totally get it. If one of my favorite authors stopped releasing books in a series I was looking forward to, I’d be upset, too. (I have had it happen.)
Doing this was honestly a Hail Mary for me. If this didn’t work, I was going to close everything down and walk away. (I still may close my FB pages down because I’m not entirely convinced it’s good for my mental health.) I am doing what I need to do in order to bring joy back to writing. I’m doing what I need to do to save the writer in me.
I know I’m not the only one who cannot believe that it’s 2016 already. 2015 was a whirlwind. Much happened in my personal life–most of which was good, but still quite stressful. It has taken a while to regain my footing and find my friggin’ mojo.
I’ve been silent a long time. Part of my silence comes from a case of severe burnout that started last summer and continued through December. I know that’s not something most readers want to hear about. Writers are supposed to write and keep everything else to themselves, but truth is truth. While suffering through the crippling burnout, I took the time to reassess my career, my life, my plans. You get the picture. I think it’s important to do that from time to time. Take a look around at your life and ask yourself what aspects of it brings you joy. If very little of it does, then it’s time to make some changes.
It’s definitely time for me to make some changes, especially if I want to stay sane in this tumultuous publishing climate. (And I do want to stay sane. *gggg)
What does this mean for you dear readers?
It means I’m going to try to finish up my dangling series. I don’t want to leave anyone hanging and I certainly don’t want to disappoint anyone. I have no release dates to post. I am SO over busting my butt to try to get books finished fast. The physical cost is too much given the return. I have no idea how long the books will be or how long they’ll take to write. At this point, I’m just concentrating on writing. I am not pushing myself. I found out what happens when I do that and it wasn’t pretty. No doubt the flames can still be seen from space.
As of this writing, I am working on Pit Fighters: Control. I’d written 13K last year, but I just scrapped the entire storyline and started over a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t like where it was going and frankly, I didn’t like the heroine. Luckily, I like the new one a lot. We’ll see if that helps get the proverbial ball rolling. 🙂 Once I get things wrapped up the way I want with the various series, I’m going to step away from romance for a while to write in other genres. After thirty-five or so books, I think that’s okay to do.
I always appreciate hearing from readers (TRULY), but writing me every few weeks and demanding to know where the books are does not help ease the pressure I feel. Keep that in mind, before you fire off an email. 😉
I appreciate your patience and understanding. Enjoy the New Year!
I hope everyone is having a good August. I’ve been trying to stay cool. I’ll get a break from the heat when I head across the pond. Looking forward to hanging in London town. Have a safe rest of the summer. XO Jordan