I’ve been chugging away at editing, as time permits. Well, I guess it’s more as my brain permits. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to just get this book done. Maybe I don’t believe in it as much as I need to. Maybe I don’t think people like it (the amount of people who started reading it is far more than the people who finished reading it.)

Maybe it’s a million different things. I don’t know. But, I keep pushing myself, a little bit at a time. Edit this, tweak that, push this over there, don’t make him say that, make her more independent, etc.

On the upside, my boss sent me what she refers to as the “tie fighter” keyboard. It’s designed in a very unusual way that’s supposed to be very ergonomically friendly but takes some time to get used to. I’ve had it almost two weeks and while I can type fine on it, for the most part, moving my hands to hit things like a function key, or number key, get tricky. Then I have to look in the mirrors. Oh, yes, there’s mirrors on it.

It’ll make more sense if you see it, so here:

The idea, according to its makes, is that you’re not rotating your shoulders to put your hands on the keyboard, which is better for your hands, nerves, neck, arms, and shoulders.

I do feel it helps with my hand. It hasn’t fully solved the issues, but it’s alleviated some of my pain, which is nice. I can type fine for a whole day without my hand really hurting, which is a nice change. The keys press a little deeper than I’d like, so that’s taking some getting used to, and the Command key is in the wrong space (because it’s a Windows keyboard, really).

Having the ability to type without pain is nice. It’s allowed me to — on the days where my brain feels like it — edit the final draft and add things to it without worrying about my hand hurting too much. If I could only get over the mental hurdle, finish it and move on, I’d be so happy.

As for the artwork, I started a contest on 99Designs to get cover art done. The gentleman who did the artwork for A Sour Chord is unavailable and I’ve been unsuccessful in finding someone online to do it, so I resorted to 99Designs, which is a website where you write up what you want and designers compete to win. They submit a bunch of entries, and you pick the winner.

Unfortunately, I had to cancel the contest because I didn’t feel like any of them really got the purpose of the book and were just too far off from what I was expecting. Which is weird, because I don’t know what I really want for the artwork. I feel like it’s just one of those things I’ll just know when I see it.

That’s it for this update. If you want to contribute and be helpful, poke me about editing. If I seem bored or uninterested, just say “how’s editing coming?” and shame me into finishing this thing.

It’s not writer’s block. For the purposes of the final draft, I’m “done” writing. It’s all about editing. It’s all about taking feedback from everyone who took the time to read the various drafts of the book (some of you multiple times) and making sense of it, and making the story make sense with it.

So why am I having a hard time motivating myself to do it? To finish it? To publish it?

Every day I have a recurring task in my to-do app, simply titled “Edit,” in the My Last Days project. And every day, I check it off and move on with my life. I tell myself things like “I’ll do it tomorrow”, or “there’s no sense in editing it, you don’t have an artist lined up to do the artwork” (don’t get me started on what a pain it’s been to find someone for that.

Is it because my hand hurts so much and typing is painful sometimes? Maybe. Is that an excuse? Possibly. (On a related note, I’ll be seeing the interim head of Orthopedics at Mass General in April about my hand, in hopes they can help more than the guy who cut me open two and a half years ago did).

I started reading James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” last week on the recommendation of my boss. It’s supposed to help you become a better person by making tiny changes in your habits. I’m hoping it’ll help me work through whatever it is that’s blocking me from finishing My Last Days.

And since I have so many ideas on the book I want to write after I finish My Last Days, I really want to get it done. I also want my hand to not hurt so much while typing, which is the reason I haven’t started writing the next book. If you recall, I wrote the entirety of the first draft of My Last Days while editing A Sour Chord all those years ago.

Thinking back on that, it seems like forever ago.

It’s been a long road, there’s no denying that. I wrote the first draft of My Last Days back in 2015, while working on editing A Sour Chord. That seems like forever ago. Literally forever.

After some ups and downs with it, both caused by myself and by others, I’m finally chugging along full steam ahead to get it done.

A huge thank you to everyone who beta read any of the drafts over the years and offered completely honest feedback. I didn’t really learn anything I didn’t know about the “final” draft.

With that said, it’s back to editing to finally finish this project up, get it published and move onto the next one.

Of all of my test readers, one thing’s clear: my original ending was the right way to go. My editor didn’t like it, so I rewrote it completely before a lot of test readers read it. It never sat right with me, because it wasn’t how I truly wanted to end the story.

But, every single test reader suggested — without any prompt or hints from me about the original ending — a similar ending to what I’d originally wrote. Thankfully, my writing app kept a history of those chapters, so I’ve resurrected them already. I have to expand on it some more to really wrap it up, but the ending is close.

Then there’s a bunch of other things in there, throughout, that need tweaking and expanding on.

It’s happening though. I don’t have a goal of when I want to finish it by, but sometime in the next few months.

If you helped out and gave me honest feedback about things, thank you. I appreciate the effort some of you put into giving feedback and appreciate that you volunteered your time to help me out.

I’m very excited to report that, as of yesterday, I’ve sent copies of My Last Days off to my test readers.

They’ll read through it and give me their feedback about the story, characters, plot, ending, etc.

Hopefully they like it and then we move on to the next steps. 

Things I still need to do: read through it one more time myself, start to finish, get artwork done for the cover and jacket, remember how to publish the eBook to the various ereader websites that exist out there.

Then it’s just a matter of getting it all done and publishing it. Then, the hard part starts; marketing. The part I’m least good at. Fingers crossed! My only internal goal is to sell more copies and have more readers than A Sour Chord. Which wasn’t much, so it shouldn’t be too hard to beat.

I’m so happy to report that editing of My Last Days is happening super quickly lately. Each night I sit down and edit, I churn through 6 to 8 chapters.

The book, you see, is broken down into sections, months, really. Since we’re living the story of Andy’s life (that’s his name, in case you missed it), we follow him through-out the months.

Each month is broken down into a handful of chapters – some as little as 4 or 5, some as many as 10.

It’s a unique approach to telling the story to help you understand what time of year it is, how much time has passed, etc., without you having to guess.

As of last night, I have just the last three months left to edit, each of which has about 6 or 7 chapters.

I think I’ll be done with editing the final draft by the end of September, then ask some kind souls to give it a read and let me know what they think. While I like the story I’ve written (especially some parts), I’m not sure I love it. At least not just yet.

If you’re interested in reading it and giving me your feedback, get in touch with me on Twitter at @jandreauwrites!