Drawing A Line Under The Amber Trail

I haven’t posted to this site in a while, so I figure I’m overdue for an entry. Otherwise I fear visitors may pop in, see the site covered in digital cobwebs, and figure I’ve given up writing altogether. So if by chance anyone is wondering – no I haven’t pulled the pin. I’m still collecting words on a couple of stories… although unfortunately kinda slowly.

2016 has been busy. We’re building a house at the moment, home-life with the kids is hectic, and in my real job I’ve been moved to a new site where I have more work to do than I can fit in the day. More significantly though I have to drive there – so I’ve lost my bus commute where I previously got most of my writing done.

But I’m not here to make excuses. I’ve bought dictation software and I’m trying to use it while I drive. I feel like an idiot as I talk to myself behind the wheel, and the words aren’t flowing as well as when I type, but hey, no excuses…(well, not many anyway).

So the launch of The Amber Trail has come and gone, and in the eight months that have zipped past since then I’ve had a chance to stop and put the experience into perspective.
Pushing the book out into public view was an exciting yet vulnerable experience. As I finished editing I could almost quote the story by heart, and I’d lost all concept on its quality. Would readers understand what I was trying to say? Would I cop snickering ridicule at work? Or would the book just be ignored?

I’d had a few close friends and relatives give opinions on the story, but I didn’t trust them to be honest or objective. Reviews from strangers were an unknown and terrifying quantity. When the first Goodreads review came in I was so curious to know if it was truly unbiased that I messaged the reviewer and asked if they knew me. They didn’t, but I cringe thinking back to that message now.

Since then The Amber Trail has picked up a modest chunk of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, which is awesome. Most are positive. Some sit on the fence. Some criticise. That’s okay.

And new reviews are popping up all the time. To this day, seeing a new review means just a much to me as the first one did. So if you have reviewed the story, thanks heaps. Reviews really help with my motivation to keep going. They help me push through the tough days when I feel like avoiding publication altogether in order to avoid the potential ridicule and self doubt.

But, even on those tough days I’m still left with one basic fact: I like writing fiction. I like the process of slowly chipping away at a story and watching it build into something big. I like the moments where I have a vague concept outline floating around in my head – and after throwing down some stilted words, then deleting most of them, giving up, coming back, changing and reforming them, then blasting some words out in a flash of inspiration it’s suddenly pretty close to right. Those moments are gold. And they get captured on paper. Forever.

So I’m keeping at it.

But how long is the next book going to take? A while unfortunately. I’m about four chapters into one story and two chapters into another. But I’m excited about them both, which is a good thing. I think they can both be better than The Amber Trail if I give them the effort they deserve – but at this stage I’m guessing the next one won’t be ready for at least a year.

That’s not ideal, but at least I have time. I’m certainly not giving up the day job, so I don’t have any monetary pressures to finish. I have the freedom to make the books as good as they can be. The story arcs can mature in my head before the next chapter gets the call up to the crease.

Originally I figured I may be blogging on this site more often. That may come later. But at this stage, in order to give me as much time on the next story as possible, I’ve decided to concentrate any spare writing time into the next book.

So if this post is months old you’ll know why. I’m going to leave The Amber Trail to fend for itself till I get back. Hopefully it will continue bouncing around Goodreads and picking up readers. It’s kind of fun to watch.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to see where I’m up to, I’m going to update my monthly writing progress on the front page of this site. The main reason for doing this is I’m hoping it will rekindle my stubborn goal setting pride. As long as the progress is out there and visible, I’ll feel compelled to make it rise.

When the new book is done I’ll likely set it to free during the opening week in the hope of getting an early review boost. So if anyone wants to be sent a reminder to pick it up free at that time then leave your email here.

By then we’ll both have a few more wrinkles and grey hairs. Hopefully my gut won’t have expanded further. But that dull itch to keep collecting words will probably still be around.

I’ll hopefully talk to you then. I’m out of here for a while. 🙂

MJK

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