According to my last update, it’s been almost 3 years since I did anything with My Last Days.

Three years. 

My word.

I knew some time had passed, as I blissfully ignored the book, the draft, the edits, everything. In fairness, time goes by much faster as you get older. Also, my daughter’s almost a year old now, so for the last year I’ve had an excuse of being a busy new dad.

What about the other two years? I don’t know. I think I felt defeated with the last draft and just needed to step away from it for a bit, so I did. That “bit” turned into longer than I’d hoped, though.

But, as of Monday – when I’m on a short 3 week vacation – I’m going to get back to it. I’ve bought a brand new notebook for edits, loaded the latest version of the book to my Kindle to re-read through it all and I’ll make notes as I go.

Then, I’ll hit the “final” draft, edit the hell out of it, and hopefully get some feedback from folks who hadn’t previously read one of the drafts to see what they think.

If all goes according to plan, I’ll publish sometime early in 2019. And that’ll be that.

Then, maybe, I’ll move on to another book. Or maybe I already have. Maybe I’ve been writing for the last year about being a dad and what fun, great and horrible things that’s brought into my life.

If you’re still following along here, thanks. If you’re new here, welcome. If you’re anxiously waiting for me to finish this book so you can read it, I’m sorry.

I feel like editing is the bane of my existence. No matter how much I edit, there’s always more to edit.

I’m about a quarter of the way through the fourth draft’s edits, which so far have been minor, but it still needs to be done.

It’s been going a lot slower than I want it to, but it’s been a busy month and my other hobbies are taking precedence over this, but I’ll get there. I’m taking a week off at the end of the month to celebrate my birthday, as I do every year, so I’ll get a good chunk of it done then.

Once that’s done, off to the editor it goes, and then we take it from there.

Fingers crossed that early next year, we’ll have a second finished book for you to buy, read and (hopefully) love!

I finished the third draft a week and a half ago and think I’ve incorporated all of the editor’s feedback in a way that makes sense and works for the story.

The next step is that I have to go through the process of reading the entire third draft again, page by page, chapter by chapter, making sure that all of these little edits I did to the various chapters and structures and layout actually make sense.

While you’re editing, it’s easy to just pick a spot somewhere and drop a whole new chapter in. But what if it doesn’t make sense in the context of the whole book? And what if I say something about a character in that new chapter that hasn’t actually been discovered until later in the book.

Continuity is important to a book. Much like when you realized something out-of-order happened on Lost, you’d notice it even more in a book. Going through and finding those things is always a challenge and one that you hope your editor can help with. Thankfully, my editor’s awesome and always catches those mistakes.

I’m planning to start reading tonight and hopefully finish in a couple of weeks. Then it’s back to writing and editing for a final draft before sending it back to Lauren for her last edits.

Fingers crossed that she likes this version better than the first draft I sent over!

I won’t lie, when I first got Lauren’s feedback on my second draft, I was disheartened. I wanted to just throw the whole thing away and give up. With the lack of success of A Sour Chord and the negative feedback for the (then current) draft of My Last Days, I thought it might be time to end my experiment.

Then it hit me. It didn’t matter how successful I was at this. It didn’t matter how many copies I sold or how many books I’d sign. What mattered was that I got to do something I enjoy doing and that I’m financially stable enough to be able to spend money on artists and editors and promotions, even if I don’t make that money back.

So I hit My Last Days again. Hard. In the face. Okay, maybe not in the face, but I did trim a lot of fat already and added some more lean bits to the story. That’s a terrible metaphor, I’m sorry.

On July 1st, I started the third draft. I’m trying to incorporate as much of Lauren’s feedback as I can, while still staying try to the story that I set out to tell.

While, yes, I was upset by the feedback at first, as I’ve been editing, I realize that a lot of what she said is true. There’s a lot of validity to it and it’s proven quite helpful.

I’m still struggling with how to accomplish some of what I wanted to, while maintaining the changes that she thinks will be helpful, but I’ll get there. I’m already well past the date I wanted to be done with the book, so at this point it doesn’t much matter anymore. I’m on my own time now and hope to be done when I’m done. When I think it’s ready.

I’ve been setting aside an hour every night during the week to come back up to my desk to work on it. I’ve found that it’s too hard to just sit for an extra hour at the end of my workday, so I finish up, go downstairs, have some dinner, relax for a bit and then come back upstairs at 8pm after my brain’s settled down a bit.

The darkness seems to help some too – as the sun sets behind me and the room slowly darkens, it, somehow, helps my brain focus on what I’m trying to focus on.

Speaking of focusing, I use a wonderful OS X app called Alfred that makes a lot of what I do in my day job easier. I built a little “workflow” in it that helps me focus by forcing me to quit every app other than Scrivener (the app which I write in) and blocks all sorts of websites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. It also queues up my “movie score and classical music” playlist and plays random tracks from that. I’ve found that writing to music with lyrics distracts me, so I write only when I’m listening to instrumental tracks. It helps me not sit in silence, but also helps me motivate myself with the changes in tempo as each track changes.

So, if you’re out there and still following along, thank you. I know I don’t have a huge fanbase, so I appreciate that you’re still along for this ride, this experiment, with me. I hope to have My Last Days done at some point in the future so that I can share it with you. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed working on it.

After reading (and re-reading and re-reading) Lauren’s assessment of My Last Days and reluctantly agreeing with most of what she said, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

At first, it felt like she was cutting down my work, which made me a little upset. I think that’s understandable though, no one wants to be told they didn’t do a good job at something they worked so hard on for so long. But the more I read her feedback, I realized she was right. I think that annoyed me more than anything else with this process. How could I, all the times I read the book, not see the things she saw? I suppose, on some level, that’s good. If I wrote something perfect on the first try every try, I’d be doing better at this than I am, right?

While the story will mostly stay the same, as well the characters, a lot of the actions and routines that happen in the book will change. A lot of the annoyances with the main character – his traits, his attitude, his progression, will change.

My plan is to – once I’ve had some time to wrap my head around what to do – go back and re-outline the entire story with what I know and what I want to accomplish. Lauren’s feedback was really helpful in seeing the holes that needed to be filled.

While I’m a little bummed (okay, super bummed) that I won’t meet the completely arbitrary goal I set for myself on this, I’m excited to get back to work and put something out that will be more thorough, more enjoyed, and hopefully a better overall product.

So, while I was hoping that a blog post this time of year would be “Go get your copy!”, it’s not. It’s back to the drawing board, literally.