Monday 10 April 2023

Looking Back On Dying Thoughts - The Creative Process


Last week I talked about looking about on my début (piece found here) and this week I thought I would look back on my first ever series. The one that took me from the start of my writing to career to the middle of it. My plan when I first started writing was to do ten books, five of which would be standalones and the other five would make up the complete Dying Thoughts series. Only when I got to the fifth book, I knew it wasn't the end, and so when I finally penned the end of the last book in 2016, book eight, I had been writing this series for about twelve years, and that blew my mind to think about.

The last book was finally released in 2019, and since then I've started to release other series. There was the Lights Out trilogy, and the start of the Cramping Chronicles series, but on top of that I've also kept writing and have numerous other series started, completed and in progress, and it made sense for me to go back to where it all started. If for no other reason than to look back at how far I've come.

When I first published Dying Thoughts - First Touch, it was 2011 and I was still very new in the indie world, as were most people because things like KDP had only just come into place. There were no kindles and the like when I was first published in 2005 and at the risk of sounding old, it's amazing to me with just how far we've come since then. It wasn't really until book three in that series, Dying Thoughts - Third Wish, that I really got serious with publishing and with writing.

As an author and as a writer, there will be parts of your life when you're more productive in the writing space. During that period, releasing only one book a year and taking my sweet time to write them, I was in a slump. I had just finished, or was in the process of finishing my five year degree and because of that I hadn't been able to write anywhere near as much. Of course these days you look at my productivity and probably think I was breezing through books writing wise. I wasn't. It took me years to finish a book, and since by then I'd started writing two books at once, I managed to finish two in that time, but I also really struggled with being tied to any kind of writing routine.

And my how that has changed. I penned my twentieth first draft in like 2016 I think it was. I've just finished my forty-second. That should give you an idea of how things have changed. While my last two are shorter than my others, the ones I wrote between 20th and 40th were all about the same length. I'm an overwriter, I know that about myself, and it makes it easier to cut things in revision, but I'm getting off my point. My point is that once I found that routine, I got better, I got faster, but it did take a whole lot of time.

What does that have to do with that first series? It was about learning from the mistakes I'd made there. See, I didn't write Dying Thoughts to completion when I first published the first book. There was no way for me to do that and still be able to publish because I wrote slower than I do now. Now that I have a handle on how to get the first drafts done, it makes so much sense to me, and for me, after all every writer is different, to finish a series before I start revisions and editing and publishing and all of that. I learned because of the traps I got stuck in with Dying Thoughts.

Tara's story was one that came to me in the frozen peas aisle in Asda one day. I'd just finished Blackout, and I had the urge to keep writing with Tally because I didn't want to say goodbye to the characters I loved. So, past me thought, write a series, and then you get to play with them a little longer. And I thought and planned and brainstormed, and there, lifting frozen peas into the trolley, I was hit with the idea that spawned eight books. I adore the series, I adore the characters and the world I created around them, but I know that if I'd been a faster writer, I might have been able to finish the series and allow for different plot devices. It's one of those things where hindsight is definitely 20/20.

That said, while I made mistakes, I am proud of the series and where it went, what it's done, how it's been received. While I haven't made millions, I have sent Tara out into the world and loved everyone's reaction to her. She has the distinction of being the character I've spent the most time with, and unless I write a mammoth twenty-book series, she'll probably always hold that title. I don't miss her like I used to, my world has become other characters and other series, and I have very much enjoyed writing them, but Tara was my first series, and I'm grateful for that.

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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