For starters, I’m not one for nostalgia. Don’t get me wrong, I get that same warm feeling everyone else does when encountering a movie, song or show from my childhood (Hulu has Doug, by the way). But when it comes to my creative process, I never look back.
I had considered doing a second edition of Yeval, for its tenth year anniversary, but realized it’s just not in me to do something like that. When writing Yeval, I did the same thing as all my other books; I dedicated myself fully to the project… until publication. Aside from the promotional phase, I completely release myself from the book after publishing. I never wallow in my work after it’s been shared with the world. It’s not that I’m tired of it; it’s the painful obsession of wanting to make revisions over and over. My work would never be published if I gave into this urge. There are always minor tweaks you want to make. Before you know it, it could end up being a completely different story. So, to go back after ten years and do a second edition of Yeval would surely result in me making changes. Then, I’d set myself up for a twentieth anniversary edition, thirtieth, fortieth, fiftieth… it’d never end. Maybe some writers are interested in doing this; perhaps it breathes new life into their work. For me, I have no interest.
In saying that, it’s actually not unusual for me to go back and reference excerpts for my portfolio, and when I go back to Yeval, there’s something special about it. I’m sure some people will say, “If you obsess over your work while you’re writing it, why are there grammar errors on page X and again on page Y, and how did you miss the one on page Z?” When it comes to grammar, no writer, regardless of how renowned they are, is free of making mistakes. That’s why there are proofreaders. Even the big publishing houses, with several eyes on one book, still get the occasional error printed. So, I don’t think of grammar as the make-or-break of a book for me. My focus has always been the story, and it always will be. When given the opportunity, I try to adopt the label of “storyteller” over “author” or “writer” because I think the latter two evoke the idea of being a walking talking dictionary and thesaurus. If that’s what a writer is supposed to be, count me out.
There are times where I think it’s necessary to explain myself, but a good majority of the time, I believe my work speaks for itself. Yeval is a great example of this, whether we’re talking about my intentions, creative decisions or grammar errors. Going back and skimming through for good excerpts, I often find myself satisfied by its rawness. There’s no hint of pressure or influence about it. This book was truly indie. I let no criticism hold me back from what I felt was necessary for the story. When it came out in July 2007, my instinct was to be ready to explain myself. As time went on, I matured to the philosophy that if I didn’t put it in the book, then explaining it wasn’t necessary. Every time I go back and flip through the book, I’m afraid I might find something that I wish I would’ve done differently or explained a little better. But I didn’t. When I revisit the random paragraphs or pages (and, rarely, entire chapters) once or twice a year, I remember exactly why I did what I did. For all the life lessons I’ve learned in the last ten years, and all the maturity I’ve done as a writer, I’m very happy that I can go back to my very first book and still confidently stand behind it. Take a guy like Bill Maher, who says he can’t even bring himself to watch his old standup because he thinks it’s so bad and he’s come such a long way. I don’t have that feeling with Yeval.
I guess this means, even ten years gone, I’m still proud of Yeval.
So, that’s about as nostalgic as I’ll ever get. Like I said, I always look forward. In looking forward, I’m gonna throw out some news of what I’ve been working on for the last year because, who knows, it could take another nine months for an update.
In my last post, I mentioned I had moved to the other side of the city. A change in habitat is a big deal for me. I also lost a loved one back in October 2016. With all the adjustments, ups-and-downs, smiles-and-frowns… the chaos of life really influences the writing process. So, I’ve been hard at work with a fifth novel. It’s called The Fall of Peacetime, it’ll be about 150,000 words (my longest work yet) and will likely be released in 2018. The title is a double entendre, so I think an autumn release will be the best move. Even though it’s a medieval fantasy novel (a genre that I’ve personally always loved and respected), the direction I’m taking the story will go hand-in-hand with other horror sub-genres I’ve written about, like: cults, inner-demons and serial killers. Like any artist who wants their craft to grow, I wrote this book intending to appeal to readers of my other books while also broadening my horizons to find a new audience. I think both crowds will be in for a surprise.