Draft cover art: Dreadnought and Shuttle, Chris Howard, copyright 2016

Draft cover art: Dreadnought and Shuttle, Chris Howard, copyright 2016

 

In less than a month, my latest novel will be out in the world. DREADNOUGHT AND SHUTTLE is the 3rd novel in my SF/Space Opera series that began with DERELICT in 2014 and continued with ITHAKA RISING in 2015. It represents my 6th published novel since January of 2012.

It has been an incredible time to be a writer. I am astounded that the tools and structure that allow me to function as an author/publisher actually exist. That I have the skills and guidance I need to bring a story from initial idea through to publication and that those stories can directly reach a reading audience.

How amazing is that?

(Answer: very!)

It’s also daunting. There are so many opportunities for creators to bring their ideas to the marketplace and an almost endless variety of entertainment for individuals to access. It’s sometimes overwhelming when I realize that any of my books is even smaller than a drop compared with all the water that exists on the planet. And yet, I continue to write.

I’m in what should be a wonderful position: Over the past few years, I’ve been able to focus on my writing without having to also maintain a day job. And it’s allowed me to publish 6 novels in a little more than 4 years. I also have an amazing line-up of projects for the next few years, including an upcoming writing collaboration, the possibility of developing an on-line game, and plans for 2 additional books in my SF series.

These are all exciting prospects.

So why do I feel as if I’m treading water?

I think part of the answer is in feeling as if I’m being pulled in multiple directions at once. I’m the kind of person that functions best when I can hyper-focus on one or two projects at a time. Preferably one. But if I am to truly level-up and have my writing become professionally sustaining, I need to learn to juggle multiple projects in multiple stages at once.

Another part of the answer is that writing a book is a very inward process. When I write, I live in a protected bubble. I rarely invite commentary or critique during the drafting phase. It’s as if my words are new seedlings and need to be protected from the vagaries of weather. But the production phase of writing – revision, editing, publishing – are all very outward looking processes. And with DREADNOUGHT AND SHUTTLE poised to be launched, I realize I’ve been in this external phase for the past several months.

I’m an introvert. A social one, to be sure, but an introvert none-the-less. Dealing with so many external factors has exhausted my creative resources. And with June fast approaching, I need to find an infusion of strength for the final phase of bringing this book to market. I also need to acknowledge that I’ve been managing a lot of stressors in my personal/family life of late. And while I don’t use them as an excuse, they are certainly mitigating factors in my overall productivity and creativity.

I am no stranger to hard work, so when I find myself daydreaming or even losing track of huge amounts of time at the computer, and procrastinating on necessary tasks, I know there’s something happening that requires some self-examination and change. As my son is fond of reminding me, self-care is a revolutionary act. Practicing it means finding a balance between acknowledging and accepting where I am while working towards getting to where I want to be.

And where I want to be is working on all those creative goodies waiting out there.

For the most part, optimism is my default setting and I know I have a enormous amount to be grateful for in my life. I have the support of amazing family and an incredible writing community. And that, alone, is an embarrassment of riches.

 

P.S. In advance of the publication of DREADNOUGHT AND SHUTTLE, book 1 of the series—DERELICT—is on sale now for your kindle for $0.99. Read the story that started it all: A group of teens stranded on a sentient spaceship must work together or risk being killed when the ship’s AI wakes believing it’s still fighting the war that damaged it decades ago.

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