I haven’t made many personal posts here, but perhaps now is the time.
I started writing the fourth book in the Wind Lord’s Gambit series on March 17, 2019. In the first three months following, I had completed about 20% of the book.
Then, I promptly wrote absolutely nothing for two full years.
A fan pinged me on Facebook a couple months ago to ask if there was going to be a fourth book, and where he could go to get updates on progress and such. My instinctual first response was, “Yes, I’m working on book four, and you can get updates on my website.” Before I hit send, though, I reconsidered. I wasn’t actually working on book four in any meaningful sense, and my website hadn’t been updated in years. I actually still hadn’t posted that the third book was available. My question to myself was, ‘Why do I suck?’
I don’t write to make money. I have a day job for that. It would be nice if someday I could write full time and churn out novels like other authors (I have notes for ten or so books in different settings). For now, though, it’s my hobby. I just want to tell stories that people (hopefully) want to read.
I say this to explain. The end of 2019 marked the ending of a job and position that I loved. It inspired me and made me want to do great things in every aspect of my life. When it ended, I moved on to a new position that did not inspire me; it drug me down, made everything more difficult.
Then, COVID dealt the entire world a sucker punch. Others have written about how it was a ‘Black Swan’ event. (A black swan being a thing that people used to assume was something that didn’t exist, until one day someone found tons of black swans). My day job moved to full time remote. I used to have separate computers for my work, my writing, and relaxing. Suddenly, they were all in the same place. Work space had become the same space as relaxing and writing. Something had to give, and writing, being a hobby, was the thing that suffered.
Another issue that COVID dealt me was that I didn’t have to put on a suit and be in an office anymore; I was home, and I could wear whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. This freedom was an important development step for me; I am, and always have been, transgender. All my life I have struggled with this fact, from the time I was eight years old and told my parents I didn’t want to be a boy, I wanted to be a girl and learn how to dance. Being unable to reconcile this with my ‘normal’ life has been the single biggest source of my depression over the years, and, at a few low points, led to me feeling suicidal. For those who say I’m “choosing” this, I’m not. No one in their right mind would choose this. The only choice I’m making is to open up about it.
Coming out as transgender was one of the more difficult things I’ve done. Most of my friends and family were incredible, and they accepted me just as I am. A few friends didn’t understand, and have left my life. My son, unsure at first, has become my biggest cheerleader, and I’m grateful for him every day. My partners, too, accepted me fully, and they have been a constant source of love and support.
For those who ask the questions, “Are you going to change <blank>”, where blank is any number of things, the answer is most likely “I don’t know.” I’m still figuring things out. But I have decided that I’m going to continue to write under my birth name (and yes, this is my birth name, IV and all.)
Still, reconciling all of this, coming out to people, and adapting to a new way of living took it’s toll on me, and again, writing was the thing that suffered.
It took kind words from a few diehard fans to snap me out of it. One friend bragged on me to one of her friends. Another friend told me how much he loved the books. Simple things, simple praise, but that was all it took. It snapped me out of my funk at got me writing again.
It’s a funny thing, how not writing leads to more not writing, but the inverse is true, too – writing leads to more writing, and I ended up writing the other 80% of the fourth book in about two months, while working my day job and helping to care for my family.
Now, I doubt I can keep that pace up indefinitely, but I’m going to strive to be more open, provide more updates, and hopefully publish more books.
For now, Book Four of The Wind Lord’s Gambit, “The Mage Knight”, is completed and has been turned over to my editor.