Chapter eighteen of my fantasy novel, Sand and Ash, used to be longer but I decided to split it in half to reflect the time that passes between the two parts. I used to have it as a section break, but if you've been reading up to this point, you'll probably notice there aren't a lot of them. Ever since I unpacked Flight of the Scions into separate chapters, I've done the same with my other novels.
One of the themes of this story is that Rutejìmo doesn't push himself. He didn't bother racing into the camp to avoid being the last one, he accepted his weakness but never tried to really go beyond it. Yeah, he will never be faster but some of the underlying character flaws from Sand and Blood remain, he doesn't have the drive to be anything other than ordinary.
That doesn't mean the world has the same intent for him, but he doesn't want to be a hero either. It is mostly conscious at this point, an acceptance, but it took a while of being pushed down before that became an integral part of his personality.
When he finally reaches the crossroads of being something “more,” he doesn't realize it. This chapter, though, is one of those points. He makes a choice, a single choice that didn't require much thought or considering, the events in his life had left so there were no choices left, but we've all seen how he came to this “non-decision.”
In other words
The Patreon hasn't helped yet. I've had a single one-time contribution but no subscribers. That was honestly expected. This is about trust and reputation, something I haven't had time to establish. No one knows that I'm going to be working on this for a few years (maybe decades), no one knows how passionate I'm about it. The only thing that can fix that is time and effort (write more words).
Actually, Wattpad was in the same position. Sadly, that one has a read counter which I could obsess on. It had a tiny blip, about twelve people have looked at the first chapter and almost no one has read a single chapter beyond that. Again, discouraging after four months.
I knew it would take years for me to build up a readership, but that doesn't stop that hope that I would be somehow different and I would be an instant success (that never happen, it takes years to be an overnight success). But, even intellectually knowing that it would take time, the emotional side was a bit discouraged by the lack of comments or even a single subscriber.
I don't give up, but I do slow down during discouragement. One reason I was working on a programming project last month was to give myself time to pull back and figure out what I want to do. Actually, I also needed to work on that programming project since it will tie into my wiki site.
So, it wasn't a month lost, but a good chance to focus on something else to clear my head and make sure I understand my near-term plans.
Chances are, I probably won't get a book out in 2016 without more sales of Blood or help from Patreon. Financially, my family comes first and things like my books are secondary. When I started publishing, my intent was to reinvest what I made into putting out more books. That way, Sand and Blood would pay for Sand and Ash which would pay for Sand and Bone and then so on and so on. It will happen eventually, but if I don't change anything, it's going to be a long time.
So, I was discussing (let's be honest and call it whining) this on Facebook the other day. I think the problem is the serial, more specifically Rutejìmo himself. The writing group spent years telling me that they didn't care for non-heroic characters. I suspect the same is for readers. I might love the characters and the story, but it is enough off the beaten trail that it probably wouldn't be picked up.
Plus, let's me be honest, I'm not a first class writer. I might some day, but I'm still working on that.
A friend, Cassie Leigh (who I'm going to be publishing her novella next year), gave me a pick-me-up speech that got me thinking. Her suggestion was to publish Flight of the Scions which is more like a typical fantasy novel. At least it has a giant telepathic toad, a heroic main character, and an adorable dog girl. Not to mention a living Wikipedia.
What I realize is that I'm very linear. I was going to hold off posting Flight until Rutejìmo's story was done, even if Rutejìmo isn't going to attract most readers. Nothing says I can't do both, plus solve a problem I think I figured out. One reason my Patreon hasn't been able to help me is that there is nothing that is “Patreon-only”. No subscriber rewards, no implicit bribe to ask people to help. No reason besides just trust.
Flight could be that carrot. It is a story I've been writing for twenty years in various forms. It is a great story and one I love. It, like much of my writing, almost made it but was dropped in the final rounds. But, it would make a good bribe. Yes, it won't be in its final state, call it a beta, but it might attract someone to help me get it out.
Given that, I'm going to start releasing Flight of the Scions as a Patreon-only reward. It will probably be on Wednesday, the same time I post Sand and Ash.
I'm going to post on my website, with a link to Patreon because my website is prettier and easier to update as I get feedback, changes, and submissions through the writing group. That will probably take a week, but… it's worth a shot.