Working on multiple WIPs at the same time can be quite maddening for any writer

Frustrated? Overworked? Help is one the way . . .

So, I’m in the middle of a crisis at the moment. I have multiple ideas for stories, both ones I’m working on, new ones, and ones I haven’t even put down notes on yet. They’re all rattling through my head, begging for life. I try to work on what I can, but then my mind drifts elsewhere. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up at 3am with one of these stories nagging at me. Like I said, maddening. I wish I could get committed to an asylum just so I could sit quietly and write. I would take a vacation to work on them, but then I probably wouldn’t have a wife to come home to anymore. I mean, she puts up with me dragging her to conventions, art festivals, and book signings.

This is a dilemma, one every writer runs into from time to time. I know I’m not alone in this madness. The difference for me is that I am not looking through multiple storylines in one genre or story. I have a multitude of ideas streaming through my head like a Netflix playlist. From steampunk sky pirates to mercenary demon hunters, a wayward Magus, and knights of Avalon, I don’t know where to begin. Add to that the short stories I’m constantly plugging away at to ply my trade within the many opportunities available to the writing community.

Curious Corvid Publishing . . . Publishing a variety of gothic works that bring a voice to the darker side of life.

The one good thing I can say about these shenanigans is that I feel a sense of relief within this madness because I have a publisher now. Being one of the myriad of talented authors under Curious Corvid Publishing has given me pause in my madness . . . Well, partly. Having a publisher that supports me as a writer takes away the worry of frantically searching for someone to publish my stories. I have that support system under me so I can focus on writing and no worry about who’s going to publish my next fantasy trope. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be a part of this up-and-coming publishing house. Thank you Ravven!

I’ve been self-published for more than ten-plus years. As a side job, I know I’m still operating in the red. I spend more money on publishing, marketing, etc., than I earn from selling books. That’s the rub for any independent, self-published author. We do this because we love it, no matter what the cost. Not saying that I want to go bankrupt being a writer, I just want to tell my stories the easiest way I can. Just reading a good review or hearing someone say they liked my story is reward enough for me. The problem is getting the damn things out of my head.

For now, I need a calm mind and a cool head. That will get me through my writing dilemma. One thing at a time, maintaining my focus, and this will all work itself out. But maybe, just maybe, I do need to take a small vacation to push through all this frustration. Maybe I can talk my wife into a nice spot on the beach where she can catch some rays while I sit under the umbrella, tapping away on my laptop. There’s a compromise in there somewhere.

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available as a paperback/ebook at iUniverse Publishing,  Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series, is available as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart, is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for The River of Souls fantasy novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid Publishing along with the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky PiratesThe Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of his current fantasy book series, plus so much more coming soon.

My first book signing post COVID was not what I hoped for or expected

I had my first book signing of 2021, more than 16 months since The Outlander War was released, and it was not what I had hoped for. Right off the bat, let me say that the staff at the Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, PA, were phenomenal. They were great in setting it up, advertising, etc. The event just went off like a wet firecracker… Smoke but no bang.

I only signed four books in a two hour period. There was foot traffic through the store, but not a lot of interest. I didn’t mind talking to people about my novel, that was fun to do. Its the people who walked by and didn’t say a thing, or tried to avoid looking at me as if talking to me was a bad thing. Its like I wasn’t even there. I hate that.

I’m not here to complain or vent… Well, maybe just a little. I only have a couple of book signings under my belt and I really don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I mean, the people I talked to about my book listened, asked questions, and a few of them bought my book. Others just thanked me and walked away. It’s really hard when you’re sitting there, offering a fantasy novel to someone, and people are looking in the fantasy/scifi section of the store but ignoring you. That was really confusing.

I know its still early in these waning days of a year of being stuck inside your house, hiding behind a mask, for your protection and others. I mean, I’m fully vaccinated and didn’t wear a mask at this event. I even wore my steampunk goggles to attract attention. I used my own social media platform to advertise the event. I even emailed local newspapers about it since it was held less than 20 miles from my hometown. I thought I did all the right things and yet, four books. That’s it. The royalties from that doesn’t even pay for the gas it took to drive up there.

I guess I’m ranting about a familiar subject… The cost effectiveness of being an independent author. We put ourselves out there, attending book fairs and festivals, setting up book signing events, etc., for the chance at becoming mainstream. As independent authors, most of us are working a full time job while writing, editing, and marketing after that job is done.

I love writing, I can’t stop myself. It’s a part of my DNA. I will continue to write and work toward becoming a full-time author. Things can get discouraging but I’m lucky to have a great support system–my wife, children, family, and friends–to see me through.

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers. Get ready for The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series, coming soon, and the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates.

Changing your novel after its done is crazy, right?

So, I woke up the other night at 3 o’clock in the morning thinking about my current #WIP (work in progress) The Last Magus. Something has been bugging me, so much so that I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about it (a common problem with writers). Anyway, this book topped off at 189,000 words. A monster, right? So, I’ve been having issues with the excessive length, but to me it’s a complete book. What do I do?

I had a similar issue with the second novel in the Forever Avalon series, The Dark Tides. I originally started to write this book as a prequel to my first novel, but the more I wrote, the more I didn’t like the approach. I wanted the story to go forward, not backwards, so then the idea came to me. I took the sections I already wrote and decided to use them as flashbacks instead. When I finished The Dark Tides, it was nearly 200,000 words. In the end, I cut it back to around 165,000, but that’s how I wanted it to be. To me, it was a finished novel.

So now I’m having the same issue with The Last Magus. It’s a brute but I love the way it is. What do I do? The answer is simple… Cut it in half. I think if I can find a good point, I can split the story in two and have two novels instead of one big one. So now that I know what to do, the question is how to do it?

I have a prologue, 21 chapters, and an epilogue. Splitting it in half also means writing a new epilogue for the first book and a new prologue for the second book, so they both are connected. I have my work cut out for me on a project I thought was finished with just editing work in progress.

This is a hard decision for any writer. You think you’ve written this great novel, until you start editing and realize… “What the hell was I thinking?” It’s not easy to be so critical of ones own work. I spent a good part of six months writing it in the first place and the next six editing. Now, having to split one novel into two, I have more writing and editing to do. This also puts a damper on other writing projects I had started.

It’s also a development issue. I laid out this story and never expected this issue to come up like it did. I mean, my novel just grew and grew exponentially. It had a life unto itself at times. I now have to go back and rethink my original concept. That’s hard for me because I thought I had it down. To be honest, I’m not very good at changing things on the fly. Usually, I write and the story develops as I write.

It’s like having to start the process all over again, which extends out every other project I had going on. It’s difficult to explain but I know other writers can attest to this frustration. I’ve said many times before how my mind is like a Broadway play running nightly shows. My stories play themselves out daily, two extra shows on the weekends. So now, it’s like the lead actor and the understudy have fallen ill, closing the show while another one quickly jumps in to fill the gap; but I can’t stop thinking about getting the other one back on stage. Do you get what I mean?

I think this is why many great authors drank, used drugs, and caroused. If you don’t have something on the side, the sheer madness of it all will overwhelm you. I’ll end this with a great quote from Alain de Botton

“Writing isn’t a career choice. It’s self-medication that over time precipitates the madness it was meant to ward off.”

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

Getting back into your #WIP one sentence at a time

The frustration of not writing | A Writer's Life

The absolute frustration of being a writer can cause major headaches, break up families, decrease in your sex life, and cause everything from drug to alcohol problems. All joking aside, THESE ARE the actually feelings of a writer under pressure to finish their work in progress (#WIP) and its been well recorded since the dawn of time. Have you seen some of those early cave paintings?

“The best musicians don’t always get record deals. The best writers don’t always get published. The best painters have showrooms full of work that never sells. To an extent, this is how it has always been.” Jeff Goins, Writer

To that end, I have been forging ahead, one sentence at a time, and it’s actually been working for me. My goal is at least one page per night, at a minimum. Sometimes I only get a couple of paragraphs in, but at least I’m writing. It’s important to get the train moving along the track, even at a slow pace. Just keep things moving… Think Dory (“Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!”) Sorry, bad analogy, but it works.

The good news is I’M NOT ALONE! I have read hundreds of social media posts from other writers expressing the same frustration. It’s a disease amongst this creative community that doesn’t seem to stay long. It jumps from writer to writer and it’s as bad as the flu (at times) and facemasks won’t help you fend it off.

The best solution is WORK! “WORK, WORK, WORK!” (to quote the incomparable Mel Brooks) and don’t stop. If it’s not coming to you, my best solution is going back a few pages and reread what you’ve already written. I find myself back into the story, making a few changes here and there, and it gets my thoughts in line to continue writing. Soon, I add on one more page, then two, then three, etc.

I have been dealing with a serious case of writer’s block this past summer (which I talked about here) and I’ve finally gotten myself over the hump to where I am writing every day now. It’s been a mighty hurdle, believe me. The first day I got over my block, I actually wrote ten pages in one sitting. It was magnificent, like a breath of fresh air on a crisp fall day.

That’s why it’s called a #WIP. It’s a work “in progress” meaning that it’s not finished. You’ve got to cross that creative gap (so named by Ira Glass here) and take a leap of faith. You have to believe in yourself and the story you’re trying to tell. Remember, you’re the author and you’re the only one who can tell your story. If you believe in that, what’s there to stop you?

I’ve already completed two #WIP that I am currently trying to get published… THE PROMETHEUS ENGINE: Book Four of the FOREVER AVALON Series and THE LAST MAGUS: The Clockwork Heart. (HINT: Any interested parties, please contact me here! Yes, I may be a little desperate… All writers are!) Now, I’m working on the next two installments of the series. I’m trying to stay in the moment and keep the story moving along. It’s not easy, but it’s like I said, “one sentence at a time…” That’s the key for any writer.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.