Thursday, September 30, 2010

“When’s your next book being released? The wait’s killing me!”

I get this question a lot, but have seen it even more than usual over the past few months. And I totally understand why...I don’t often go this long without a new release, so I know it’s been weird for readers. Please believe me when I say it hasn’t been my intention to drive anyone crazy with the long wait. :) I was woefully bad and didn't do much updating on my website and blog during the summer, and haven’t done much better at answering email either, due to a crazy schedule that's kept me away from my desk for several weeks. I apologize for that, and running with the philosophy of "better late than never," I wanted to give you an update now.

Part of the reason I’ve had fewer releases this year is that I made a conscious decision at the end of 2009 to focus on novels in 2010 rather than writing so many novellas. I frequently hear from readers that they prefer longer gay stories, which is cool because I actually love to write big juicy novels. The downside to that is that novels take longer to write. At least for me. I envy writers who can pound out a novel (or heck, even a short story or novella--or two!) every month. I seriously don’t know how they do it, but I wish I did. If they could bottle that magic potion I’d stock up and buy it by the caseload! *g* Unfortunately, I’ve never been a particularly prolific author compared to some of my colleagues--maybe I'm too anal, stressing over every word to find just the right one, or maybe it's because I tediously read and reread everything a jillion times. I don't know. *shrug* Whatever the case, for the past few years I’ve released approximately 5 new stories each year, which for me has been huge. But most of those of have been novellas, which are, obviously, shorter and write more quickly than big books. As much as I’d love to be able to whip out novels at the same speed, it just doesn’t work that way.

The other truth, and this one was hard for me to accept, is that over the past three years I pushed myself hard in order to have new releases every two or three months. The result of that, aside from a nice back catalog, was that I ended up suffering from burn-out. Big time. Looking back on it in retrospect, I realize now it was building even before I finished Fires of Ballian, which is no doubt part of the reason it took me so long to get that book done. Once Ballian was turned in, I tried to forge ahead to the next book. But finally, after several months of struggling, I had to face the fact that I was creatively wiped, and just plain exhausted from burning the candle at both ends for so long. I confess, I was in denial about it, tried to pretend that everything was five-by-five, but it really wasn’t. It took me most of the spring and summer to get rolling again and not have to scrape for every word. Don’t get me wrong, I was writing during that time, or trying to, but like an athlete who’s trying to finish a marathon and hasn’t been drinking enough fluids, you reach a point where there’s no fuel left and everything starts to shut down. That’s how I felt, though I didn’t realize it for a long time because it crept up on me slowly. I would say that, creatively, my fuel tank was empty except for fumes. I would love to have rushed out Circle of Ariend like I’d promised, or finished Into the Woods early this summer like I’d planned, but it just didn’t happen. I think every writer fears the creative well drying up at some point, so I know I’m not alone. And I think it happens to different writers for different reasons. But as with most ailments, you just have to give it time and nurse it back to health.

The lesson I took away from that experience is that from now on I have to do a better job of pacing myself so I don’t end up in that position again. I won’t be committing to projects that are too close together, and most likely won’t even be trying to guess at release dates, or even tentative release dates, like I did in the past. I've come to terms with the fact that I can't keep up such a frantic pace. I'd rather write a couple of books a year that will knock your socks off than pound out half a dozen that leave you going "meh." :) That's not to say I'm only going to write two books a year from here on out, 'cause I know myself well enough to know that sometimes story ideas come to me fast and furiously. *g* But, in general, I'd rather focus on quality and writing some more substantial stories than giving myself a quota for the sake of quantity.

The good news is that after taking several weeks off, I'm re-energized and back to writing this fall! Therefore, expect a new M.L. Rhodes novel very soon. Also, stay tuned because I’m going to be making some changes over the next month or two to liven things up--for one thing I’ve got a newly revamped website in the works that I’m pretty psyched about!

Thanks to all my readers for your patience! I hope you’ll decide the wait was worth it. :)