Having scrapped the work I've just done for two hours, I'll spend my last minutes of today explaining why I haven't been around explaining much recently.
I doubt anyone has noticed, but I have been steadily writing The Fifth Man during the last ten days. I've been diligently updating the panel on the sidebar that says I've been making progress ... but after all this time, and the numbers not having changed a bit, it's well below the radar.
I've also put energy towards the Senex rewrite and the Master Class, not to mention the online campaign; and I'm glad of it. I only worry that some of my patrons will begin to wonder about continuing to support me, as I'm not putting any energy towards making new maps or towards refining and expanding the trade system. I have ideas for those things, but I only have so much energy.
What can I say about the book? It will get written. I've gotten past the miserable expositionary 17th chapter and for the first time in a geologic age, it feels like blue skies. There are still problems, such as tonight's, where I'm working to describe some feature or journey, such as the interior of an abandoned house which will be made suitable for living, but this is simple painting rather than skull work. It's a matter of settling on the right means to convey the substance, in the right words, without those words washing uselessly over the reader. The scene must serve to fit the events that will later fill that scene; it is not descriptive sentences just for the sake of making the reader believe it. It has to service the reader. That is a balance ... and sometimes, if the balance does not fit the scene just so, it is best to rip the sentences out and begin anew.
I like to go back again and again to the process of building a wall, as the metaphor holds up for nearly everything. Building the wall incorrectly is, however strange it might seem, part of the process of building the wall correctly. When we start, and it seems fine, but each new brick needs more and more adjustment to make it straight, we see where we made our mistakes from the first. Then we can go back and start again, and not make those mistakes.
That's what I did tonight. The bricks are scattered now all over the inside of my brain, waiting to be made into a wall, but so I can come at the problem fresh tomorrow, they can just lay where they are.
I'm so pleased with this new work. When I read back over the first two thirds of the book, I am stunned by the writing; in wrapping up the story, I did not want to feel pressured to "just finish it," unless I could continue to write with the same skill that I had when I commenced. Believe it or not, it has taken a full year to find that skill; but that's how it goes. Throughout the year I've worked, I've written, I've applied myself to a variety of other tasks ... and I've thought, and thought, and thought about this book.
Oh, how I want to finish it now. That, I think, is what I have looked for. Wanting to finish it.
I haven't got art for it; haven't been able to crack that nut. I never thought about how this much a problem it would be finding a way to cover a fantasy novel. Quotes for provided art have been ... well, ridiculous.
I continue to have very little respect for practical artists. In hard terms, I expect to sell a set number of copies based on my previous sales, and upon the original encouragement that was provided in spring of 2016. I can, with reason, guess how much profit I can expect to make based on the meagre mark-up above a) the cost of the book and b) the cost of the publisher. The art I buy has to show itself as something that will sell more copies of the book than I would anyway, or else it is just money that I am throwing away.
I'll certainly grant, I can't draw it. I wish like hell that I could. But paying for it is lost income, pure and simple ~ and that's what I find artists just don't understand. Creating a drawing that one person will like might justify inflated prices; but creating a drawing that many hundreds of people have to like, who will be individually paying a small amount for the work, comes under a whole other economic principle. This isn't about ego. This is business.