Well, that's not entirely true. I started writing novels when I was a bit under ten, and I'm a bit over fifty now, but I didn't complete a novel until I was sixteen, and I took a major break from novel-writing between graduate school (when I was in my early twenties) and my mid-forties. Plus, you know, I take the occasional break to eat, sleep, spend time with my kids, and so forth.
But my point is, I've been writing for a long time. And particularly in the past five years, from the completion of the first draft of Survival Colony 9 in 2011 to the publication of Scavenger of Souls just last week, it sometimes feels as if I've been writing nonstop. No sooner have I completed one project than I've moved on to another. That's the writing life: you're either working on one thing or promoting something else (usually both at the same time). It's relatively easy work physically, but it can be exhausting mentally and emotionally.
So I've decided to take a little break. Roughly four months, to be precise. From now until the beginning of 2017, I won't be writing anything new.
The timing is actually quite good. My daughter's a high school senior, so we'll be driving her around to visit colleges and so forth this semester. I'm teaching five classes (one more than usual), so there'll be a bit of a time crunch there. Plus I'm traveling some to promote Scavenger of Souls, so that's another time commitment. I've heard back from my editor about my forthcoming YA science fiction novel, Freefall, and she wants only minor changes, not any major rewriting. And I'm scheduled to have a sabbatical this coming spring, so for a solid four months I'll be able to devote the full workday to my current work in progress, the YA historical horror novel I'm calling Polar.
When I resumed writing novels five years ago, I had no idea how much work it would be. How could I? Like many novice authors, I had the illusion that I'd write a book, it would become an instant bestseller, and I'd be able to sit back and collect royalty checks while leisurely producing my next classic.
Well, live and learn.
When I told my agent, with some trepidation, that I'd be taking a little break from writing, she had this to say:
I support this 100% and am here whenever you are ready. Writing ebbs and flows and I totally respect that you need time to revitalize. Do what you want to do – take your time – write when the mood strikes and know I am always here!
So now you know, for one, why she's my agent. But you also know why I needed this break. Writing does ebb and flow; authors do need time to revitalize. Much as I respect those writers who seem able to work pretty much nonstop, I'm not one of them. Each writer needs to recognize his/her own strengths and needs and limitations; otherwise, you run the risk of burning out for good.
I'll still be blogging from time to time--when the mood strikes--and you'll probably see me around on Twitter or Facebook or live and in person. I hope you'll read Scavenger of Souls, and I hope you're looking forward to Freefall. Down the road, I'm sure you can expect more from me, starting with Polar and moving on from there.
But for now, YA Guy's taking a break.