I’m competitive when it comes to CampNaNoWriMo. I love running up numbers, earning badges/certificates, and, of course, winning. All the NaNo perks. I also love my fellow campers/writers working towards a common goal.
But more than anything, I love releasing a story from my mind so I can move on to freeing the next and learning the skills necessary to do so more effectively each time.
“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” A quote by, oddly enough, Nathanial Hawthorne. It’s apt. “I believe opportunity looks a lot like hard work.” I don’t know if Ashton Kutcher said it first, but it too is apt.
What does hard work look like for me? There are plenty of measures, but let’s look at novels.
I’m actually quite prolific, even if I’m not published except for a book of poetry (The Renaissance Cycle). Most of these novels are retired, but every one made me a better writer in my long journey to becoming published. I conducted some quick research (I save everything) and came up with the following list of—believe it or not—nine books and the approximate period I worked on them…
The Other Side of the Aperture (2000-05, 2011-12) Medieval Fantasy
The original Ontyre novel that, literally, was long enough to be four novels. A great teaching tool where I first learned about storytelling, arcs, dialog, and multiple POV.
Revision (2001-04) Sci-Fi/Mystery
A non-Ontyre story that was long enough to be two books. This one was so personal it’ll never see the light of day, but I learned what it was to find an emotional connection with a character and how to unfold a mystery.
Promise Best Unspoken (2003-04) Contemporary Fantasy
My lone foray into YA (outside short stories), and where I finally made an effort to get story length under control. A clever tale where I learned more about characters and their arcs and started to better grasp structure.
Where Light Devours (2012-14) Medieval Fantasy
From the ashes of Aperture came this novel, but in truth I needed to move on. There more I attempted to improve it the worse it became. To this point my time studying the craft was minimal so it’s no coincidence I vowed to better learn the necessary skills at the same time I abandoned this novel.
Background Noise (2014) Mystery
My first experimental book, and never intended for publication. The focus was on again attempting multiple POV, along with learning proper structure and trying a deeper POV. It was a mess and further taught me that I needed to step up my planning efforts. I also forced myself to try a different genre. My first story written entirely in Scrivener!
Bleeding Heritage (2015) Medieval Fantasy
My first original return to Ontyre in fifteen years, but also another experimental book trying to better employ what I’d attempted with the last novel, but applied to fantasy. Mixed results, mostly because it was a case of the more I learned the more I learned I didn’t know. It was my first serious, educated attempt at Deep POV and in places I got it right, which was exciting. Too, the structure held together from the start.
Trust in the Forgotten (2016 to present) Steampunk Fantasy
This is the beginning of the present Ontyre series and is in the editing stage. There’s only one POV (it’s something of a whodunit). The first time I was, overall, happy with my Deep POV efforts, though it needs work. A lot of stress on scene construction, goals, and tension.
A River in Each Hand (2016 to present) Steampunk Fantasy
The sequel to Trust in the Forgotten drafted late last year and not yet revised. I had mixed results with the changes I made to my planning efforts. It was my first time alternating POV between the protagonist and antagonist. Still improving Deep POV.
Torment Rising (2017, d) Steampunk Fantasy
A stand alone Ontyre novel that chronologically could be inserted into the canon after A River in Each Hand. I streamlined my planning process and was happier. This book has more POV than I normally attempt. Due to the influence of Scrivener, this is the first time I’m not writing in chapters, but scenes (I’ll assemble it into chapters later).
And all along the way I’ve honed skills in research, world building, character creation, history construction, and more. Of course, the length of my road is unique. It’s different for everyone. This is my journey, my story, and like everyone else’s it isn’t over. But it does represent a lot of hard work.
Thankfully, I love doing it.