Sunday, April 23, 2017


Very well.  For those who may doubt the veracity of my continuing to work on my book, The Fifth Man, for which I created a Jumpstarter campaign in February of 2016, I can offer confirmation of the existence of the book and of my efforts in the way of Ozymandias of Crossing the 'Verse, who is a regular contributor to the comments on this blog.

I have sent Ozymandias a copy of the book thus far: 49,000 words of third draft, 30,000 words of second draft and another 20,000 words of the completed first draft.  Let me be clear: there is a book.  I'm not just farting daisies.  And there will be a finished, published novel when, I am sorry to say, I'm satisfied with the writing.

But I have been in a state of increasing angst for many months now as the length of time between the Jumpstarter and the finished book has widened, as I am deeply conscious of having taken money from good, wonderful people without being able to give them a damn thing to show for it. For that reason I sent Ozymandias, someone I have never met in person, but whom I trust implicitly, a copy of the book thus far so that someone, someone, can come online and say yes, the book exists.

I am tremendously gratified by this.  A part of my concern has been laid to rest.  I hope that the reader who has helped me, who has stood by me, who has stepped up to support me, who has gone the best measure towards helping me go on and move forward, will feel gratified as well.

Thank you to all.


Scarbrow said...

I usually chime here with support and kind words. Not today.

Alexis, I think it's high time you wear the hair shirt and finish this book. I've supported you for a long time, bought every book and everything else on store, short of ordering the DMing classes (which I currently don't have either the time or the players to justify). I also pitched with the jumpstarter, and have made a habit of sending some help every month. I think I'm justified, as a patron, to some exigence. Life has been tough, I know. But it's been a long time since you last wore your heart on your sleeve and told us why, and how, and by how much. You will surely have good reasons, but that leaves us backers assuming life is better, and then asking ourselves, why? Why is he taking so long? It's not in question that you're working on it. It's that it's been one year, two months since the jumpstart. And that was at least half a year after you started the then-called "The killing bequest". And that was already the second draft. You're already a year behind schedule.


Alexis Smolensk said...


I appreciate your candor. But as much as you may feel that you're justified in taking me to task for not producing the book according to your schedule, or feeling that my life is suddenly better because I've just acquired a low-pay scale job where I am treated like a bitch every day, the reality is that the book will be finished when I am satisfied with the quality and content of the material. I don't get a do-over with this thing.

I suffer as much as anyone at not working or making the progress I would like to make. You say don the hairshirt; I have been wearing this hairshirt since the beginning of this project and I don't feel it is for you to say whether or not that shirt is sufficiently unpleasant.

If you feel that you need to take a break from supporting me from month to month, then I suggest this is your best option. I thank you for all you've done for me, you know I do. But this book is still about my reputation and my pride as an artist, and not about compromising my state of mind while put under pressure.

Forgive me, but this is where I am just now.

Scarbrow said...

I take the liberty of speaking frankly and directly because I know you to be able to take it, and because we've known each other for a long time. And you know I appreciate your effort, and your integrity as an artist. However, I think we all have been patient about it, and somebody had to say out loud that you're taking your time. You have a job to perform, and you're entitled to some free time and rest after that, I'm not denying it to you. I see you keeping your work on the blog, and the wiki, and that's fine. I see you running two online campaigns, and that's fine. But if all of your commitments are wearing you to the point where the work you promised is being delayed, I think I have the right to say, you are not prioritizing right. In some manner, I am (a part of) your editor, having paid an advance over a book, to be submitted in a certain schedule (May 2016) and I'm (quite reasonably) requesting you to finish it. Take my request or ignore it, as you may. I just needed to have it said.

I may or may not withdraw my support at some point. If and when I do, I will take several things in consideration. The ongoing quality of your blog, wiki, etc, will be among them. Your work is valuable on many counts. Your ability to finish your book in a reasonable time after taking advances on it will be too. But please don't think this an angry rant. It's a business call. You took money from people and you cannot pay it back, so you're obliged now to deliver the result. Part of what's needed to be a successful professional artist, I understand, is to be able to provide art (more or less) on demand, isn't it? Wordsmith, where are my words?

Alexis Smolensk said...

I can't give them to you right now. You'll have to wait.