Juggling Mental Health and Self-Imposed Deadlines
There's a quote by Douglas Adams that has always really resonated with me.
No, not one of those.
Okay, well, yes those too. I mean my favorite number is 42. I've utterly devoured half of the Hitchhikers Guide series. Books by Douglas Adams make great little pallet cleansers between my more hefty reads. Same with Terry Pratchett and his Discworld novels. Anytime I finish something like the 1,100 page behemoth of a book I'm currently reading, The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, I tend to go for something more humorous and snack sized as my next read. It's like a reset button for my brain.
But the quote I mean is this one:
The truth is, I don't work well on deadlines. I never have. My brain requires me to work on its own version of time. It's some sort of symptom of my anxiety and/or ADHD, I expect. I was always the kid in school who waited until the last minute to finish that project I'd known about for six weeks (sorry Mom). I don't think I have ever turned in a rough draft in my life. It's also probably why I can't outline or plot my books. I just sit down and wing it by the seat of my pants.
Well, if we're being honest (and we probably should be), when it comes to my writing I've always been somewhat sporadic. I know I've put out a book every year for five years straight from 2018-2022, but that was by accident moreso than by design. I'll write for months straight and then my brain will lock up for a time--usually in the summer. It's hot here in Arizona and I'm pretty sure seasonal depression works backwards from the rest of the world here. Add in the fact that it's been in the hundred and teens here for about three weeks straight, and it's fair to say I might be heading for another dry summer.
Unfortunately, this past year has been a struggle overall for me and my writing. It started last September with grief. Then a very difficult living situation came to a head earlier in the year, which then transitioned into a move that transferred my son out of his high school right before his Junior year. Mix in my aforementioned anxiety and ADHD, along with a fairly bad case of high-functioning depression, and my brain will not be quiet enough for me to focus on my writing nearly as much as I would like to.
Which brings us to deadlines--this time my own self imposed ones.
As I mentioned earlier, I have put out a book every year for the last five years. It's absolutely something to be proud of. However, it's also made me believe that I HAD to put out a book every year. And because I've been working on two projects and struggling with my mental health, the progress I had been making was minimal for the last few months.
However, I had already announced The Shadow Sisters for a late 2023 release. In an attempt to build up hype for a project that I hoped you would all love, I set myself a deadline that in my current mental state I simply cannot meet. The thing is, it's at 81K words, and it's nowhere near done. And I know this is a strange thing to say for a book that is already longer than one of my fully released novels and is quickly catching up to the rest of them, but it's also only about half-way through the story I want to tell. Here's the thing though. This doesn't feel like a story I can split up into a duology or a trilogy in a neat way that would satisfy readers. And frankly, I'd rather release one complete 180K work book than two incomplete 90K word books that feel like they should be glued together. I simply don't want to put my name to something I'm not proud of.
So we're pushing The Shadow Sisters back until late 2024. I'm still extremely excited to bring this story to you. But I want to make sure I do it the justice it deserves, because I love what I've got and where it's going.
So here's the updated teaser trailer to get your mouth watering:
The Shadow Sisters is the story of a young woman named Anjia who grew up in a small coastal village. She was chosen at the age of five to become one of the sisters of the Temple of Kyrsma, the Goddess of Life and Light. To be chosen is a great honor, but the Temple holds it's secrets close and she must prove herself in a final trial--a sword dance against a shadow demon called the Khimital. Should she fail the test, her life is forfeit. If she succeeds, Anjia must embark on a life of darkness and shadow--whether she wants to or not.
In addition to being a fantasy tale, it's also very much a personal horror story. Anjia's life is not going as planned. Everything she knows is a lie. And while she loathes what she has become, parts of her are embracing it. It's an interesting moral dilemma, and I'm truly enjoying exploring the darkness of this tale. However, when you're already in a dark place, sometimes it's not healthy to dive deeper. And that is why we are where we are, pushing this story's release back. It deserves to be told well, and I need to be in a healthy frame of mind to do just that. Which means that I need to be a bit more gentle with myself with trying to meet demands that I unnecessarily created of myself.
Needless to say, there will be many more updates to come with regard to The Shadow Sisters, be it with regard to my progress or lack thereof. I do feel like late next year is a realistic deadline for where I'm at, both with regard to this story and my own mental health. In the meantime, I look forward to sharing more about it all with you as soon as I can.