Four and a half years ago, I started writing what I always referred to as ‘the book.’ I wrote the first bits (~50k words) of ‘the book’ back in 2012, in the downtime at my banking job. I then took a 15-month hiatus from writing to travel through South and Central America with my brother. When I came back in December of 2013, I had to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I tried to move to London. That didn’t pan out. I then thought about getting a full-time marketing/content writing job here in Boston, but that didn’t feel right either. Finally, in May, I revisited ‘the book,’ and realized that I wanted to finish it. I wanted to give being an author a shot. So, I began to pour my energy into this project.
Two years later, and I’m still pouring away. ‘The Book’ is now an epic fantasy series called The Heirs of the World, and I’m on draft five of book one. It’s been a ride, that’s for sure, and the ride’s far from done. Along the way, I’ve kept a little timeline of my journey on a month to month basis, where I identify breakthroughs, low points, key emotions, and a few other things in between. In essence, this is a brief recap of the past 28 months of my life.
- May – OK. I’m going to go for this. I’m going to try to write and publish my book. Nervous as hell.
- June – Cool! I kinda like this whole writing thing. It feels good. I think I can do this!
- July – First third of book out to 30+ beta readers. Soooo nervous.
- August – Don’t talk to me when I’m in the zone, writing at the coffeeshop. Ever. You’ll scare away the muse and I’ll be mucho grumpy.
- September – Hired as editor of Philly Curren Magazine! Hooray! Also, moved in with my parents…at age 28…hooray?
- October – Beta reviews are coming in, and they’re quite positive! I think I’m almost done! Home stretch!
- November – Shit. Shit! Just realized I have no plot. SO far from being done. #everythingischanging
- December – Second round (first 2/3 of book) out to 40+ beta readers. Scored a 3-month house sitting gig, and moved out of my parent’s house. Progress, progress.
- January – Dude! People other than my mom like my book! It’s definitely improved. Some people really like it!
- February – Aw shit. My world building is shallow and unoriginal. In short, it sucks. It’s going to take some intensive surgery to fix that.
- March – Man, I have no money. I moved into a cheap basement apartment in Somerville with my brother. It’s dark and cold down here. We have named it Bag End.
- April – Complete Draft! I have a complete draft! Someone get this man a drink!
- May – Shit. My complete draft is horrible and makes no sense. I rushed it and was not true to my characters.
- June – I’ve realized I will probably never have any money. Ever. Sigh.
- July – Picked up a serving/bartending job. Started personal therapy and emotional work. The job should relieve some financial stress, and therapy should help me understand myself and therefore better understand my characters. Steps forward, baby!
- August – Therapy has been very heavy. I find myself crying sometimes, out of the blue. I don’t want to get out of bed. I’ve barely written anything these past two months. I think this is depression.
- September – Took a week-long writing retreat at a cabin on a lake in the Adirondacks. Writing retreats are incredible! I just wrote my face off. And reaffirmed that I’m a truly horrible swimmer.
- October – Met an agent at a book signing! He read my prologue, and said he wants to see the whole draft when it’s done! Holy shit! The fire under my ass has been lit. #amwritingfaster
- November – This is what having a deadline feels like. Pulling 10-14 hour writing days.
- December – This is what not making much progress on a deadline feels like. Spoiler – it doesn’t feel good.
- January – I have writer’s block. For me, this is not staring at a blank page, unable to write words. I can write words. I just don’t know how the hell all of the different pieces of my story can possibly fit together in a way that makes sense. I am 100% blocked.
- February – Note to self – learn how to set realistic expectations and deadlines. I thought I could finish and polish my draft in 4 months. I was wildly mistaken. #amwritingslowly
- March – MAJOR plot breakthrough. That block is broken, broken, broken! I finally understand a key character’s deepest motivation, which has made everything else fit together. Also, went on a massive rock climbing trip to Kentucky, which cleared my head. Let’s DO this!
- April – I have very little time to write because of my two jobs. I’m stretched thin. But I’m making some money. That’s good, right?
- May – I am reading some of the classics, and have learned what lean writing means. Time to bring out the shears. Thanks for modeling, Ernest.
- June – Writing retreat #2. It was not as productive as last September, but it was good for me. I hit my own reset button, and feel refreshed. Conclusion I’ve found? I need to rearrange my priorities.
- July – I cut down some responsibilities with my two jobs, and I’m back to writing every single day. New goal of October for Final Draft. Come onnnnnn, Jonny!
- August – I set up a website, and I have a blog now. That feels good, and it feels a little selfish. Who really wants to hear all about my life? Also, I’m at 62% with this draft, and slowly creeping forward. #justkeepwriting
That brings us up to the present. I turn 30-years-old in 3 weeks, and am hoping to hit 70% on this draft by then. As a wise man once said, “Progress is progress.”