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The Seven-Week Plan

The older I get in life, the more I've come to realize that the majority of the overwhelm I feel on a day-to-day basis is relatively self-inflicted. The last decade of my life has followed a very distinct motif that seems to reiterate one important message over and over again: You know what makes you happy. So, why aren't you going after it?

We all have our excuses. Many of those excuses are valid. At least a few of those excuses are a load of bullshit. Sifting one from the other isn't as easy as objective analysis, or black-and-white thinking, or rationalization. It takes a certain degree of self-honesty that doesn't quite come easily or naturally, as it requires us all to acknowledge that there is no bigger obstacle than the obstacle we embody and assign to ourselves.

I suppose what I mean by this is that it's easy to self-sabotage your own success. It's easier to be conventionally or traditionally successful, even if at the cost of your true happiness, than it is to approach life with the double-or-nothing attitude of "I'm going to keep pursuing what I love, even if I never get it."

For most of us writers, that's the quiet negotiation we're forever making subconsciously, that big war we wage with ourselves. It's the plight of every creative. We know what we love, what makes us happy, but we also know the double-or-nothing approach it demands, the inherent risk embedded within the decision to pursue it. Sure, it's one thing to consider it a hobby, to tell people "I love to write" rather than admit "I am a writer." It's another thing entirely to be willing to publicly announce your commitment to your creative endeavors, to actually write a full-length and finished piece, and to share it with perfect strangers.

If any step of that ask is left unfulfilled, then we're risking self-sabotage. And the sad reality is that I've come to realize, for at least the last several years, I've fulfilled every big, important step toward my writing-related dreams except for the biggest step of all:

Allowing people to . . . you know, read my work.

Most of you know I've been working on A Dark Sky Opens for years. It's a big story. There is so much ground to cover, and so many new reveals and plot-twists to Eos's journey, and two new point-of-view characters. Right now, the draft is 603 pages, and I'd venture to guess that at least 400 pages of those are ready to be published. The end is in sight (only another ten or so chapters remain to be written), and yet I've floundered at the idea of just finishing the god damned thing. Publishing it at last. Sharing it with people.

A big part of me hasn't finished the story because I love the dark nuances of this stage in the series (and in Eos's journey). But a much bigger part of me knows and acknowledges that the real reason I haven't finished A Dark Sky Opens is straight-running fear. The fear of the story somehow falling short. The fear of botching the delivery. The fear of somehow changing my mind about the trajectory of the plot and being unable to course-correct later down the line.

But this is the way the story is meant to be told. The story is ready. It isn't botched and it sure as hell isn't taking the wrong trajectory. And now it's time for me to perform the final ask of what it means to be a true and dedicated creative . . .

I've got to share my work.

Which is why, yesterday, I sent the first 100 pages to three critique partners. The goal now is to continue sending 100-page batches until the story is finished (which will likely be around seven or eight weeks; for now, I'll optimistically say seven). Thus, seven-ish weeks from today, I will have a finished draft of this book and people will have read it and I can finally get some semblance of feedback. And maybe, just maybe, if there aren't any unforeseen plot-holes or massive revision suggestions to consider, the book will actually be published by the end of this year. I could throw a launch party. I could remind everybody that I'm still a writer, that I'm still working and fighting for this crazy dream of mine, even if it doesn't look like it.

A while ago, I offered a critique partner sign-up page in the Patrons Lounge for those of you interested in offering feedback on A Dark Sky Opens — but that was a while ago, and almost certainly your schedules have all changed. So, if you're interested and available to read 100-page batches every week(ish), then please let me know by filling out the new critique partner sign-up box in the Patrons Lounge here!

IMPORTANT NOTE — The book isn't finished yet. Remember, I've still got around ten or so chapters to finish before the story is complete, so there's a chance that we'll run over my very optimistic projection of a seven-week timeframe. For now, my goal is to refine batches of 100 pages every week and release them to you at the end of the day on Fridays. However, I want to stay realistic. The story, obviously, gets less and less polished as the draft progresses, and I'll want to polish those pages to the best of my ability before sending them your way. So, all I'm saying is this: Let's play it by ear. The goal is 100 pages weekly. The goal is to start letting people into this story. The goal is to get used to the feeling of sharing work that is still rough and imperfect and embrace that without panicking over it. Anyway, if you would like to be a part of this process, then I would be forever grateful! But there's really no stress or pressure to be a part of this; I know it's a big ask. And on another note: If you're a writer looking for a similar kick in the ass, this is your sign. Do the thing. Share the pages, even if there are only a few of them. The leap of faith is terrifying but necessary and unavoidable, and we'd all be far better off learning to love the feeling of this free-fall. We can do it together.

Also, here's a picture of my adorable fur-baby in the forest recently. 🥰

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