It’s fair to say that my writing productivity exploded last year. After a couple of years doing hardly any new writing, Mr. P and I took a vacation. Once we got home, I had inspiration again. More importantly, I had given myself permission.
For the past few years we’ve both had a f**k-ton of stress. Since 2014 we’ve had a LOT of family-related stress. We’ve had financial stress. We’ve had work-related stress. My job situation in 2014 was ‘this is probably ending soon.’ In 2015 it was ‘yep sure enough welp here is more money spent on credentials and let’s cross our fingers.’ In 2016 it was ‘this is not looking like the long-term solution I was hoping for.’ In 2017 it was ‘this is not getting better so let’s give up the expensive Westside apartment and move to a place that will be more affordable if I have to change jobs yet again.’ In 2018 it was ‘somebody will be laid off and it will probably be me.’ And sure enough, here in 2019 came the layoff.
The writing bomb that went off in May 2018 was, I think, precipitated by the inescapable realization that there was nothing I could do to salvage the work situation. There rarely is, for people in support-staff positions, but I am a person who tries to Make Things Work. In May 2018 I conceded that the best I could do was what I was already doing: getting the files clean, getting the docket clean, serving my clients, learning the few new things that came my way, and essentially preparing to leave things in good condition for the people who would pick up that work after I was gone.
With that, I gave myself permission to Stop pretty much everything else. The work stress situation was too extreme. I stopped even pretending to cook. I did the bare minimum on the garden. Sitting and watching TV, or even sitting with the TV on while I read a book (a longtime habit) lost its appeal: it was not getting me out of my head. I needed to create a world that was more rewarding than the one I was living in.
And thus, from May 2018 to now, I have written seventeen new novellas (one is in the queue for publication later this year; one will be published next year, when real time catches up to L. A. Stories time). I have written and published three new novels. I have written four more new novels. Novel #8 launches this week. The others will be launched at intervals. Very likely I will do this as a Quarterly Novel thing, with new novellas in between full-length books.
I didn’t expect to write all those novels. The novellas are a lot of fun to write, and there is an instant-gratification factor because they are also fast to write. Each one of them (from #1 through #23) was written in about two weeks while I was working full-time. The nearly-25000-word novella that I can’t publish till next spring (because otherwise I would be committing time travel) was written in four marathon days.
But a funny thing happened on the way to getting laid off. The connections between these stories grew stronger and deeper. My understanding of this world of characters, and consequently their back-stories and their motivations and their likely future issues, got richer. Thus, it is unsurprising that when I suddenly had nothing but time, the stories I was drawn to write were long ones.
Thus, the summer. Novel #9 (92000 words) was written May-June. Novel #10 (92,000 words), June-July. Novel #12 (91,000 words), July-August. In the meantime I’ve been fiddling with Novel #11, which would be done by now if I hadn’t been overtaken by #12. If I’m still unemployed on Labor Day, #11 will very likely be finished.
That’s a lot of words. A lot of world-building, a lot of looking inside instead of outside because what’s happening outside has been, frankly, demoralizing and upsetting. And I can’t fix what’s outside.
I would not have been able to write all that in such a short time if I still had a full-time job. No way, no how. When I am re-employed, which I’m sure I will be at some point (here’s hoping it’s a fast-approaching point), the pace will slacken. Fortunately, I have basically a whole year’s publication plan ready to go.