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Blog#9 – Hard Reset

March 14, 2022

Blog#9 – Hard Reset


Hello!  I hope you’ve had a good 2022 so far despite the world being full of shithousery right now.

It’s hard to believe two months have passed since I wrote a post. Don’t you all just wonder sometimes how things get so busy, yet it feels like you’re not accomplishing anything? I feel like that’s been me.

What have I been doing?

During my trip to NY in Dec 2021, I was extended an invitation to send pages of my novel to an editor. I still haven’t done it yet, and I want to talk about why.

This journey to becoming an author has been filled with road bumps and hard lessons, much like anything in life. I think the final big lesson that I’ve had to learn is what needs to be said VS what I want to say.

Afflicted was originally 240,000 words. It was an epic that delved deeply into every scene, and played the story out in a measured, simmering approach that left you with a niggling hole in the pit of your stomach. This is all well and good, but as has been said to me, in the eyes of the industry, I am a rookie writer. To the industry, 240,000 words is too much paper to invest in an unknown without me being a social media darling/celebrity/well known person. To the industry, 240,000 words means I am an undisciplined writer unworthy of their time.  To an industry that judged your entire work on the first 10 pages, it isn’t enough.

Which leads me back to my lesson.

I love Afflicted. I have other projects, but this one just…who else has done a mix of The Last of Us meets Dune?! So, in an effort to take advice given, and lessons learnt (or learning) I decided to do another draft that I worked on for most of January and half of February. I even made it a different file on my PC, and I had some very specific goals:

  • Each ‘Act’ has a word count limit of 30,000. There are 5 Acts, which means the max words the novel can be is 150,000 (still high) However, I am realistically working on always being under my own ‘cap’ for sense of goal and accomplishment achieving. I am very much cutting out a lot of things I ‘want’ to say, and being as brutal as possible in only trying to say what I ‘need’ to.
  • Make things happen faster. A very difficult aspect of the lesson for me. I’m 34, and was raised on a different brand and era of storytelling. I like slow build ups, earned reveals, and loathe cheap thrills and ‘excitement/conflict’ placed in simply because a marketing exec thinks it will keep the reader interested. So, I’m compromising: I’m making a certain element of the story happen in the beginning that otherwise would have started towards the end. It speeds up the ‘mystery’ element, but has also allowed me to add certain cool story elements that would have otherwise not come in till the sequel.
  • Keep the ‘Spirit’ of the Original Story Intact: by far the hardest thing. How to subtract while keeping a whole? When another author heard my original wordcount, they cracked a joke that “I had a chapter for every zombie.” It was extremely disingenuous and made me dislike that person, but it also raised a point to me – if they thought that, the pro’s would too.

Looking at most successful post-apocalyptic stories on any media, ask yourself what keeps you around the material? Most people when they think about it name characters. My approach with Afflicted has been in line with that – make a cool world with a mystery packed with three-dimensional characters you become invested in and want to see what happens.

A lot of my wordcount is invested in my characters, and evolving them in themselves and their relationships with each other. So, cutting the word count while keeping all the development intact has meant a lot of scene and location changes. It is like finishing a puzzle and then having the creator telling you that you need to put it together differently and more efficiently, yet still have it look the same. Very challenging.


So, back to my main point – why haven’t I sent in to the editor what he requested. I am sure he’s forgotten who I am (I’ll have to remind him) by now, but I haven’t forgotten him. Out of every professional I’ve met so far, he was the only person I felt as if I “vibed” with (cringe, yes, but also true).

I’ve honestly been afraid, because I don’t want to screw it up. I know I have no control over whether this editor subjectively likes the sample I have prepared. I know editors are very busy, and I don’t want to waste their time. I also think a lot of my trepidation comes from a lack of confidence in my own work: something I’ve never experienced until now. I know its source, but I’m not ready to speak of it publicly.

March and April will be difficult months. Our lease is up, and though our homeowner offered renewal at a more reasonable price than I expected, it was still a 7% raise on a property that hasn’t changed, in an unwalkable area with many plumbing issues, not to mention the soaring, out of control utilities cost of San Diego and general inflation on food prices. All in all, after over 5 years, my wife and I are packing up and leaving. When I moved here originally, this place was value. The last couple years, the population and prices have soared, and the house prices have ballooned in such a way that there is no chance we afford anything we want here. San Diego is an incredible city, but it’s time to say goodbye.

And, to be honest, we need the hard reset a move away provides. Just like I needed the hard reset on Afflicted with the new draft, and that the break I’ve taken from it provides.

I think we all need a hard reset at times, and your reasoning, whatever it is, is valid because it’s yours. It is your life, and you have to do what’s right for you. I hope you have loved ones who support things like this, as I am fortunate enough to have.

To any of my fellow writers reading this, I hope you are having success in your ventures! Feel free to reach out to me to catch up if you want, or if you want a good, unbias editing eye!

Stay classy, DG out.

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