I’m back! I’ve had a fair chunk of time off recently, so if you’ve been waiting for a long time for the latest episodes of The Sunset Chronicles, Bleakwood, or All Creatives Now, I can only apologise. There’ll be some news about all of them a little bit further down this very article. (Insert *skip to the end* Spaced gif*)
The time off was as the result of what I can now see quite clearly as a bit of a burnout. Which isn’t in any way a cry for sympathy, but I thought I’d let you into a bit of a peek behind the curtain about what it’s like to burn out as a creative, and then claw your way back again. Because I am definitely back.
For around four years, I had a job that I knew was coming to an end. It hung over me in a very much Damoclean manner, and I dealt with its impending and yet turgid arrival with an endless mantra: I was going to make it as a writer.
Now, that’s easier said than done. Modern publishing, in all its varied and interesting forms, is an absolute bastard. Very few living writers make a living out of it, and those who do have a combination of the right book, the right marketing, the right support, and a metric fuck-tonne of good luck on their side, all blowing their sails against the prevailing winds of publishing orthodoxy.
I tried. I really did. Over the course of four years I poured endless hours (and lots of good old English pounds) into writing, publishing, marketing. Again, not looking to play the sympathy card, but it was a hell of a slog. I made some progress. I found some new readers. But at the beginning of this year of our grim deity twenty twenty two it became pretty apparent that I was a long way off the ‘full-time-author’ goal.
I had to find a job. It was strange; mine is a career I fell into by accident and got quite rapidly promoted in, and I’m actually really good at it. But I hated it. I got kind of depressed about it, but was still throwing everything into both finishing my job properly, but also the writing. On top of this I had to find a job, and it all got a bit much. I even started to hate the writing. The thousand words in the morning was getting harder and harder, and the sheer amount of admin involved in being a one-person creative endeavour was just grinding. And not in a fun ‘Pig Destroyer and Agoraphobic Nosebleed’ kind of grind.
Once I got a new job I actually felt pretty good about it. I hated my time at the last place, but the new place is very different, much more my kind of company. I don’t ever talk about work stuff online but I’ll go so far as to say that I had a really good feeling after the interview, and now I’ve started I see no reason to question that assessment.
Once I got the job, I knew I had a decent chunk of time between finishing one job and starting the next. At first I was like ‘okay so let’s get as much stuff done as humanly possible’, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised I was still stuck in that mindset, the grinding, snarling MUST BE WRITING ALWAYS place I’d been for four years. And I realised I don’t want to be that person anymore.
I think I was getting comfortable with the idea I wasn’t going to be a full time writer.
Look at me, couching that language. Let me be more plain.
I don’t want to be actually want to be a full time author. There, I said it. Okay, that’s not strictly true. I do, but in the Stephen King sense of the word where he can just sit in a lovely big house and do whatever he wants and he has lots of other people to do all the rest for him. It’s not the writing, it’s all the rest of it. I don’t want to have to spend months and months trying to find an agent, but I also hate social media. Which, if you want to make it as an author these days is a bit like saying I want to lose weight but I don’t want to change my diet or my exercise regime. Incidentally, that’s also very much my approach to weight loss.
So I made a decision. I took the time between jobs off completely, and I’ve now come back to it with the mindset of treating writing as a hobby. If I do that, none of the stuff I don’t actually want to do matters. I can put books out, and if people like them, great. I really hope you do. But I want to go back to just doing what I want. I’d love an agent, someone to cheerlead and put you in the kinds of rooms that can drive your career forward. But it takes people YEARS to find an agent, and it’s almost a full time job in itself. And there are plenty of indie authors who make a living writing, but they spend most of that ‘full time author’ job doing marketing and admin. But if I treat it as a hobby, I don’t have to do any of that stuff.
See, I’m smart!
The time away from writing was incredibly beneficial. I spent the whole time with my family and learned (to my great relief) that they didn’t hate me by the end of it, and we went and saw some lovely parts of these sceptred isles just in time, before our government filled all the beaches with effluent. But what was really lovely was just not thinking about writing. At all. In order to reconnect with writing, I needed to disconnect, too. I read loads of good books, and when it came time to sit back down at this keyboard once more, I was really glad to be back at it. Okay, so it was a bit like pulling rusty nails out from my fingertips at first, but that didn’t last too long.
All of which does mean some changes to The Schedule. I’m still fully committed to The Sunset Chronicles (and I’ve got some really crazy plans for where it’s all going), but I’m not going to be able to release an episode a month any longer. So, I’ll be releasing episodes every other month. Starting…. Today! Broken Ground, which is the second book in the third season, is out right now! You can order it right now. In fact, why don’t you do that?
Not started the Chronicles yet? Well now’s as good a time as any to start, which brings me to my second announcement. The Sunset Chronicles is coming to print! In fact, you can already pick up the first episode in print right now. Head to the episode page for all the links you’ll need. Obviously, with as many episodes as there are, I’ve priced it as low as I can possibly go after printing costs etc. In fact, I’ll get less from the print than the ebook, but I don’t care. In the last few years I’ve transitioned completely away from reading fiction on screens, so I wanted to make sure there’s a print option available. And it’s been designed to be a cool, pulpy little thing to grab and read quickly. Each episode works out to be about 120 pages, so that’s not too shabby, either. They’ll be coming out every few weeks until they’re caught up with the ebook versions.
So that’s the writing, but what about the audio? Well, I’ve decided I’m definitely going to continue making Bleakwood, and it’ll be five seasons of ten episodes each. The first season is completely written already, and there’s episodes coming up soon written by some serious names in modern horror – Kev Harrison and Luke Kondor, as well as up-and-coming stars like Sam Tindale. Oh, and me, obviously. But since I’m looking to do a little more self care, and since I’m only one little old me, I’m going to change the release schedule to monthly. New episodes will drop on the fourth Wednesday of the month. So that’s not too long to wait until the next one. In the meantime, if you’ve not been keeping up, why not check out the first four episodes already released, including absolute bangers from Dan Howarth and Helen Lane?
That just leaves All Creatives Now, the podcast about creativity run by myself and Kev Harrison. Well the good news there is that we’re not walking away from that, either! We’ve already put out a great episode with Gemma Amor ahead of her new book Full Immersion, and we’ll be coming back with a bi-weekly schedule in future, where we’ve got lots of really interesting plans and some great guests lined up to talk all things creativity. If you’ve not checked out the other episodes yet, we’ve got an amazing interview with Djamila Boden Azzouz from Ithaca (who just so happen to have released the best album of the year), a hilarious chat with Michael Legge, and a fascinating chat with Luke Kondor. We’re only getting started with ACN, and I’m looking forward to getting into more discussions around the future of creativity with a whole host of people more talented than me.
New episodes of ACN will come out on the first and second Wednesday of every month (though we’re off next week because Kev wanted a holiday, the absolute bastard). That means that on Sunset release months it’ll be on the second Wednesday of the month. So basically if you want to mute me on twitter one day a week, Wednesday’s a safe bet.
No, wait, don’t do that.
Now, I said I wasn’t asking for sympathy on the above, and I meant it. And I hope I’ve not put you off. The full nine seasons of The Sunset Chronicles is going to take a fair chunk of time now (the final episode will come out in March 2028!), but I’m not going to be George RR’ing it, either. And there is a way you can help. Since I’m not going to be putting much effort into marketing, well, anything, I’ll be relying almost entirely on word-of-mouth. Yep, that means you. If you enjoy these books, these podcasts, or even this blog post, please to tell anyone you think might enjoy them, too.
It’s good to be back.