As a naive young reader, I grew accustomed to authors who routinely released a new book each and every year. Every now and then, I’d run up against one who would appear to take long breaks between series, if not titles, and it always left me wondering: Why? What was taking so long? What on Earth could this author have to do that was more important than publishing the next installment of their particular adventure?
Suffice to say, I never wanted to be one of those writers.
Well, flash forward to adulthood, and I’ve learned firsthand that, even for professional authors, there are a million and more things that might get in the way of that next book. Let’s start with the exhaustion that can settle in after grinding through a 750,000 word trilogy and really wanting nothing more to do with those characters or settings for a time. Then there’s the distraction of competing professional pursuits such as only Hollywood can offer, with exponentially larger audience demands and the promise of eight-figure back-end participation. Add to that an economic recession and the resulting overhaul that even a major publisher might go through, where staff is decimated and the executive editor moves elsewhere. There are the obligations to a single mom and her young child, athletics coaching, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, a move, new schools, and weekend chores. There are daily workouts, injuries, surgeries, and unexpected deaths in the family. Toss in the contractual commitments to side projects, volunteer and charity efforts, secondary work when some of those larger Hollywood windfalls fail to materialize, and… well, before you know it, a decade or more has slipped by, and you’re still promising you’ll focus on that book “right after this.”
In fact, when I look back at some of my particular distractions, I don’t feel quite as bad about taking this long to complete another trilogy. Trouble is, readers only know that I’ve “abandoned” them for all this time, and so I must apologize. Just as I must apologize to all of those authors out there whom I silently judged and criticized as a callow youth, when I believed that their first and only priority should always be to their craft.
Excuses and apologies aside, there’s nothing I can do about the past. So I’m trying instead to enjoy the sense of relief, enthusiasm, and potential that always comes with the launch of a new project. There’s some trepidation too, of course. Will readers even remember me? Will the new story satisfy them? How, after all this time, can it possibly measure up to expectations? Having learned that the answers to that are certain to be mixed, however, I’m resolved not to spend much time dwelling on it. With as precious as time has become, and knowing that a host of fresh distractions are waiting just around the corner, I’d do better, I think, to get started in earnest on that next book.