I'm still here: taking care and trying for quality over quantity

Authors are just chock-full of advice about writing and publishing and commas.

Okay, we don't know shit about commas.

BUT we can swing a mean panel discussion on characterization, story-building, marketing your book, and how to manage a write-until-you-drop work schedule. As a matter of fact, push ... Push ... PUsh ... PUSH ... is mostly what you hear us say. And it is true that we often have to manage grueling schedules to get our work done.

What we don't talk about enough is self-care, which should be part of your writing routine.

I'll tell you a story--no, really, this one is true.

I went to the doctor recently for my annual checkup. My blood sugar was up, along with my weight, and all the things that come after a certain point in adulthood. I was exhausted all the time. I felt bad all the time, but I couldn't pinpoint the source of my malaise.

Some nights I went to bed at eight o'clock. My diet consisted of cereal at breakfast, and at lunch, of a sandwich, chips, and a candy bar. Often we had healthier fare at dinner, but I would either consume too much of it, or I'd be too tired to fix dinner, and we'd wind up going out to eat.

Last year, my doctor let me off with a warning. This year, he said I had to get it together. So I've been eating healthier food (cut out the chips and candy and reduced the carbs), and I started walking on a regular basis.

The walking takes time away from--you guessed it--writing. Yet I'm getting more quality writing done.

How does that work? you may ask.

And you may.

I'm staying up later in the evenings, because I have more energy. My brain is sharper, and I don't feel exhausted all the time.

Although taking care of myself has cut into the quantity of work in terms of blog posts, it has enhanced the quality of my writing. Please don't take this to mean that people who write quickly, or who produce a lot of works in a short amount of time aren't quality authors. There are an incredible number of factors that go into how much and quickly someone can produce a work. Some authors can easily produce two good books a year and several short stories.

It's just that I'm not one of those authors. Partly because of many factors beyond my control, but also because of the way I write and how I tend to edit as I go. Some days I can easily pump out four thousand words, and on other days, I consider it a victory if I manage some editing and two new sentences. It also helps me to step away from a manuscript or story for at least two weeks, maybe more, before coming back to it for the final edits.

My novella In Midnight's Silence was written at the end of 2014. During 2015, I wrote two novellas at approximately 33,000 words each, or the equivalent of a 90,000 word novel. Those words came quickly, because I already had the novellas mapped out when In Midnight's Silence sold to Harper Voyager Impulse. Those 96,000 words do not account for blog posts, interviews, and shorter works of fiction that I produced in order to promote both In Midnight's Silence and Without Light or Guide.

Things I didn't factor into my deadlines: a month of edits on the front end of a new novella and a month of promo on the back side of the gig. However, even knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn't have scheduled them differently. I wanted about six months between each work and with the help of Harper Voyager, it worked out beautifully.

Now that The Second Death is out in the world, I've been focusing on promotion and a new novel. All of these things consume a lot of my energy. Which sort of brings me back to taking care of myself. My free time is short, so I have to manage my time very carefully, and factor in that self-care. I do that by focusing on projects that pay, or projects that help me promote the novellas (i.e. blog posts and interviews). Since I am also involved at The Supernatural Underground, you will sometimes find my monthly post over there rather than here.

The point of all this is: I can't do all the things anymore, so sometimes those things, such as they are, will get quiet here at the blog; although not for long.

All this eating right and exercising more has helped my mental health, too. Walking is wonderful and frees my mind. I'm able to burn energy and quiet the voices in my head long enough to achieve a little peace and serenity in my brain. For me, that is a necessary and pivotal part of my mental health. My brain tends to run in overdrive 24/7 and I need to remember how to slow down and listen to the quiet.

I've also been reading more of other people's works, and that, in turn, helps me produce more quality work. Since I'm more alert, I've able to read more analytically. I learn by writing, but I also learn by reading quality books. I'll be talking about some of those books later. For now, I am enjoying them as a reader and a fan. I also want to write a Goodreads review for each book, because I think it is important to support other authors, and reviews, even a couple of sentences, can help someone else.

So that is where I have been and what I've been doing. I'm also working on a short story with the Los Nefilim characters, maybe one with Rafael since he is so many people's favorite. I've no shortage of ideas percolating in my busy brain, but I'm going to take care of myself so I can be around to write them.