Cariad Eccleston

Just a gin-filled dork.

Giving up, pushing through, and the Age of Ley

28 January 2018

Hey, remember last week?

The deadline for submitting “Kids Today” to Otter Libris is Wednesday 31st. Mark wants two days to review it, which makes Sunday 28th the absolute latest I can get the story to him.

Which means… well, I’ve got this week to finish it. By next Sunday’s update, the story needs to be in Mark’s hands.

So, did I get a finished draft of Kids Today to my editor?

Did I bugger.

Last week

It’s difficult to talk about a typical week without repeating myself. I’ve been pushing myself hard in my day-job, and I’ve been coming home too exhausted to think – again.

Again, again, again.

I remember a period of time last year – before NaNoWriMo – when I was able to wriggle out 500-1,000 words every night after work. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s changed now to stop me doing that. I need to work on making sure I have a energy reserve to work on in the evenings.

I don’t have a clue how, but it’s something I need to ponder.

Kids Today

Anyway, I totally missed the deadline to get the story to my editor.

And… I’m kinda okay with it.

I was never in love with the story. It wasn’t critical to me in any way that the story be accepted into the anthology. So, what’s to be upset about here?

It’s not as if the experience was a total loss. It was super interesting to try out a story outside of my usual genre – I prefer a little more science in my fantasy – and at least now I’ve got a first draft in my back pocket that I can pull out and finish up if I spot a call for submission that might be interested.

In short: nothing lost, experience gained, and optimism over disappointment!

So… what’s next?

Since I made the decision to drop Kids Today late last week, I woke up this morning without a project to immediately jump into.

See, I love Sundays. They’re the only day I can get  9+ hours of uninterrupted writing, and it’s so therapeutic to get out of my head for a while.

Well, usually.

This morning, I just couldn’t do it.

I couldn’t even convince myself to think about it.

The self-doubt was crippling. It wasn’t just paralysing – I wasn’t just sitting there feeling numb – but it actually hurt me to consider how little progress I’ve made, how I’ve lost all my velocity, and how easy it would be to give up, but also about the abyss that would leave.

So instead of writing, I spent the time wallowing.

Then crying.

Then playing video games.

Then watching junk on YouTube.

Then comfort-eating way too much at lunch. Which I over-cooked because I wasn’t paying attention, and it was gross.

Then watching more junk on YouTube.

And then I had a real think.

Because – obviously! – giving up isn’t an option. This isn’t just a matter of “believing in myself’ or “following a dream.” It’s about satisfying the urge in my soul to tell stories.

See, the whole reason I got into software development in the first place was because I wanted to make video games. When I was younger, I made text adventures and platformers – even a Red Dwarf Myst-like with an artist friend, long before we had any idea of what copyright law is – but naturally, I ended up with a more mundane career. I had a shot at drawing webcomics, and got into photography big-time. Then blogging, too. In one way or another, it was all story-telling.

And I feel like all of it was leading up to my realisation that I bloody love writing, and getting some self-published novels out there would scratch an itch I’d utterly failed to reach so far.

So I cleared my head, and considered my options:

  • I’m not interested in finishing Kids Today right now. If an opportunity to sell it comes along, then I’ll finish it.
  • I enjoyed the story about the seagull I started last month, but it’s only a short story. I’m not interested in publishing drips of short stories. That’s another one to leave in my back pocket until an opportunity comes along.
  • What about that story I started for NaNoWriMo and never finished? Esthree Postbuild?


I pulled out the draft I started back in November, and had a quick read through.

I hadn’t read those words in months.

And… they were okay. Definitely, very okay.

With the benefit of time and forgetting some of the details, I realised two things:

  1. This is definitely a story worth telling.
  2. …but squashing it all into one novel would do it a disservice.

It ain’t no Lord of the Rings. It’s not even close to hard fantasy – nor am I interested in writing that – but there are a whole bunch of things in that first draft that would benefit from a bit of breathing room.

So I had a ponder: what would this same story look like as a trilogy?

And the short answer is: maybe awesome.

An Age of Ley trilogy

The outline for the entire trilogy is already done, because it’s basically the story I’ve already drafted.

So, what I need to do next is take the three major blocks of the story and separate them into three distinct stories, but still keep them tied to the main thread being told.

Right now, it looks something like this:

  1. Introduce Esthree Postbuild. Rather than Bolide pull her into the conflict against her will, we’ll spend some time with with Esthree before she meets Bolide, and have her react to a mysterious threat. As one conflict is defeated, a grander one is revealed.
  2. Introduce Bolide Blueshift. In the current draft, she doesn’t have much of an establishing story at all. But now, I see her at the epicentre of the threat, and she has an adventure in discovering it, understanding it, and maybe even being tempted by it. While she has victories in battle, she knows she’ll need help to win the war.
  3. Fate brings Esthree, Bolide and their friends together for the final battle. Despite their individual demons and weaknesses, together they stand a chance of saving the world.

The name I’m using to bring these stories together is Age of Ley. I’ve got half-an-idea to release the exposition for that as a free short story before the novels are published, but we’ll see how that goes.

But, anyway, that’s where I’m at. I lost way too much time today on self-pity and anxiety, but – after a bit of self-care – I came back hard. I’ve got a trilogy outlined already. I’ve got each story summarised, with its own standalone story and tie into the bigger picture.

Now I just need to write the damned thing.