I've been writers' blocked pretty much through November and December (thanks to the major kerfuffle in our tiny waterglass of an industry, and fanned by certain individuals harassing trans* writers), which brought my on-going Dark Soul series to a grinding, painful halt. It also renewed my desire to step outside this particular genre, so my next books will go first to big agencies, which means a huge lag in publication, but, basically, my partner has won the moral argument of what I should attempt to achieve in terms of my writing career. I'm not saying that with any bitterness or anger, BTW, it's just one of many realisations I've had.
I'll continue to do what I'm doing, but it's going to be slower. I'll move from one-track writer to dual-track writer. Which means an overall slowing down and longer (much longer) waits for new releases. That's OK, I have plenty of sequels and prequels and spin-offs to write which will go faster.
The kerfuffle and the ensuing writers' block, however, not only made me reconsider my whole career plan (as little of a plan I have), but also stopped Dark Soul dead. Now that I've overcome the block, I can say that, yes, absolutely, Dark Soul was at risk to never get finished. Authors in a personal crisis of any kind always hurry to say "but I won't affect my current obligations". That's nonsense; we're lying. We're doing damage control. We don't want to have our readers freak out - it's enough that WE are freaking out, we really can't deal with five hundred emails asking "But what about X!!!???".
There were other things going on in my personal life at the same time, which I kept under wraps.
But I'm back on track. I've completed Dark Soul 4 and am working on Dark Soul 5 (which is the final installment), and expect to wrap that up this month, so maybe I'll write the next blog post here reporting completion.
With the huge gaping hole between DS3 and DS4, I did lose part of the story in my head, though. I did lose the initial energy that, under normal circumstances, would have carried me all the way through the book. The energy was the same as during Scorpion, and Counterpunch. A glorious rush where things just happen and all I have to do is type.
I lost the flow in the middle, and while I'm reasonably sure that post-edits, nobody will be able to tell that some of those pages were a pure slog to write while I was battling fears and insecurities - it's a lot like returning to an extreme sport after an injury, things get really tentative once you understand you're not unkillable - the worry is there that I lost something as I passed through that black hole.
However, I can finish this and I know what's going to happen. It's just harder work, making sure I get the voice right (Stefano is softening a lot during the storyline, but that's intentional, so I'm not too worried), making sure I'm not misrepresenting the characters, or putting in contradictions.
What I do like very much about publishing an episodic novel like that (where episodes are structured like short stories) is that readers are trusting me. I keep reading reviews where people say "no idea where this is going, but I'm loving the ride." My readers don't know what exactly they are reading (is it a mafia tragedy, a crime story, a character study, or is it a Romance?) - they don't know whether the main characters will survive, even, or end up together. Some seem to expect I'll kill either Silvio or Stefano or both, and absolutely, it's always a possibility. If the story demands it, I'll do it, regardless of expectations. I'm being "experimental" here, not for the sake of it, but mostly because the story demands it.
Right now, Dark Soul can be a romance, or maybe it's not, but people seem to agree that it's very romantic. I think I'm pretty cool with that. I'm even more cool with the fact that, while everything but a "category romance" and everything but a "typical m/m romance", Dear Author, which focuses largely on romance, added it to its recommended reads with a great review.
There are people out there who trust me to bring the herd home (my expression for coralling all plot threads - or most of them and making a good, satisfying ending). People are waiting for the story to finish - regardless of what it is, in the end. They just trust me to entertain them and to give them a satisfying read. I think that's a terrific place to be for me, since I'm not really made to be a category writer or an author who writes "conventional" romance (I admire those who can do that - it's a hard job).
So, thank you for your trust, and, if you look outside the window there - that huge dust cloud? That's me, bringing the herd home for you.