Okay folks, here’s the deal….
Whatever release date you’ve heard for book two is simply untrue. There is no release date because the book isn’t finished yet. I’m working on it right now. Or rather, I would be working on it if I wasn’t writing this blog.
Yeah. It sucks. I wish it was finished too. My life would be really great right now if book two were done.
I’ve been avoiding writing this blog for a while. It’s not fun to write, and it’s not going to be fun for most people to read. The truth is, I’d much rather work on the book.
But recently, a remarkably courteous and lucid e-mail from a fan made me realize that a lot of people out there are more curious than pissed about it.
So. There’s the news. The Wise Man’s Fear won’t be out for a while. This won’t come as a surprise to many of you. Especially those who know not to trust everything Amazon says. Plus, I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I’m still working on revisions.
You see, even if I finished the book today and it was perfect, it couldn’t be on the shelves by April. It takes a long time to get a book into print. Months and months. There are a lot of steps.
Since many of you will be disappointed by this news, I figure the least I can do is explain why it’s taking so long.
If you don’t care about that, skip down to the bottom and check out “The Upside.” That’s the good news.
For the curious among you, here are some of the reasons My revisions are taking so long.
Over the last six weeks, I have written roughly 60,000 words. Pretty good words if I do say so myself.
To give you a bit of perspective, there are entire novels that are only 60,000 words long. Stardust, for example. Coraline was only 30,000 words long. (I mention these two because I just listened to an interview with Neil Gaiman.)
That means that since the beginning of the year, I’ve already written an entire novel’s worth of text.
The Name of the Wind is bigger than that. It was over 250,000 words. The Wise Man’s Fear is looking to be even longer, maybe more than 300,000 words.
Why did my book need these 60,000 words? Well, I realized part of the book wasn’t as well-developed and satisfying as it needed to be. It needed more action, more tension, more detail. It needed to be re-worked, expanded and generally betterized.
It took 60,000 words to do the job. My book effectively ate an entire novel’s worth of text. A short novel, admittedly. But still, it gives a sense of perspective.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the story I’m telling is a little different. It’s a little shy on the Aristotelian unities. It doesn’t follow the classic Hollywood three-act structure. It’s not like a five-act Shakespearean play. It’s not like a Harlequin romance.
So what *is* the structure then? Fuck if I know. That’s part of what’s taking me so long to figure out. As far as I can tell, my story is part autobiography, part hero’s journey, part epic fantasy, part travelogue, part faerie tale, part coming of age story, part romance, part mystery, part metafictional-nested-story-frame-tale-something-or-other.
I am, quite frankly, making this up as I go. If I get it right, I get something like The Name of the Wind. Something that makes all of us happy.
But if I fuck it up, I’ll end up with a confusing tangled mess of a story.
Now I’m not trying to claim that I’m unique in this. That I’m some lone pioneer mapping the uncharted storylands. Other authors do it too. My point is that doing something like this takes more time that writing another shitty, predictable Lord of the Rings knockoff.
Sometimes I think it would be nice to write a that sort of book. It would be nice to be able to use those well-established structures like a sort of recipe. A map. A paint-by-numbers kit.
It would be so much easier, and quicker. But it wouldn’t be a better book. And it’s not really the sort of book I want to write.
Two years ago, I was a part-time teacher. I was poor, obscure, and pretty content to stay that way. I learned to write as a happy, carefree nobody. No deadlines. No editors. No stress.
Since then I have somehow become an international bestselling author. I’ve paid off my credit card debt. I own a house. I own a car. I get fanmail and invitations to conventions.
And, honestly, for big parts of this time I have been pretty miserable.
The reason for this is Psyke 101 simple. Stress is caused by change, and the last two years of my life have been nothing but change. Some bad. Some good. But it all boils down to the stress of suddenly having a completely different life.
It’s taken me the better part of these two years to get my feet under me again. It’s been hard for me to get back to the familiar headspace where my good writing happens.
I’m glad to say I seem to have finally made it. My writing is finally going well. I’ve made great additions to the book over the last three months, where before that when I sat down to write it was like masturbating with a cheese grater. (Vaguely amusing, but mostly painful.)
Not only do I seem to be back in my happy place, but I’ve managed to do it without destroying my relationship, developing a substance abuse problem, or getting all twisted up and bitter inside. I’m pretty pleased about that.
Best of all, I feel like myself again. But it was a long, slow while in coming.
A week or so ago, I wrote a sentence that wasn’t quite right. It bothered me like a popcorn husk stuck in the back of my throat. The problem was the word ‘girlish.’ It wasn’t the right word. Close, but not right.
I thought about it when I went to bed that night. I thought about it in the shower. And the next day when I was driving into town to buy groceries it came to me. ‘Childlike.’ That was it. The perfect word.
You need to understand that I am a freak, and words are just the tip of the iceberg. The order of scenes, characterization, tension and subplot. I obsess about these things. I don’t want them good. I want them perfect.
I like to think this obsessive attention to every little thing is a part of what makes my books worth reading twice. Worth telling your friends about. Worth writing smutty yaoi fanfic about. But it takes time.
One word down. 299,999 to go.
Last but not least, I do have a life.
I have everyday things that need doing. I have a sidewalk to shovel, a lawn to rake, groceries to buy, and dishes to do. These things take time.
Okay. I lie. Sarah does the dishes.
I have a job. Part of that is writing book two, true. But part of it is also working with my foreign translators. We’ve sold The Name of the Wind in 27 countries so far, and there are a lot of seemingly innocent things in the first book that are important later on. I have to try to make sure these things are not lost in translation. That takes time.
Part of my job is also going to conventions, doing readings or workshops. I have taxes to manage. (And I fucked that up this year, let me tell you.) Part of my job is talking with movie people, or game people, or comic book people. This takes time.
Also, I like to have fun. I have a girlfriend who is good at kissing. I like to play boardgames. I enjoy role playing, though I don’t get much chance these days. I like reading books and watching movies. These things are important. Without them I would become a dry, joyless husk of a man.
A dry, joyless husk cannot write a book that is full of wonderful things.
Goodness. What a considerate question. Thanks for asking.
In concrete terms, there’s not much you can do to speed book two along. Ultimately, nobody can write it but me.
It would also be nice if folks avoided bitching to me about the delay. It’s really counterproductive. I actually do read all my e-mail and the comments on my blog. When someone goes out of their way to snipe and bitch at me… Well, the best possible outcome is that it makes me tired and depressed.
At worst it makes me think things like, “You little fucker, I’ll be damned if I write you a book! I’m going to play Spore for 15 hours just to spite you!”
Now I’m not saying you can’t be pissed. Feel free. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t express those honest emotions. Don’t keep it bottled up. It’s not healthy.
What I *am* asking is that you don’t bring your frothy rage round here to my house. Screed away on your own blog, curse my name on a discussion board, punch your pillow. By all means, vent your spleen. Just don’t vent it at me. It makes me hurty inside.
I say that as a joke, but like most jokes it has a grain of truth to it. That’s the reason I’ve turned the comments off for this blog. I know they would break down roughly like this:
30 considerate, supportive comments.
20 touching, heartfelt comments.
15 funny comments
10 comments saying, “Meh, I already knew.”
5 passive-aggressive snarks masquerading as one of the above.
1 comment from some anonymous frothy dickhole.
And you know which comment I’d focus on? Yeah. The last one. It would sit there like a steaming turd in my bowl of cereal. It doesn’t matter how delicious the cereal is. It could be Fruity Pebbles, or even Cookie Crisp. But in a situation like this it doesn’t matter. You can’t just eat around it. All you can do is focus on the turd.
That’s why I’ve turned the comments off for today. I’m really fond of y’all. Over this last year, interacting with my readers has been one of the true, rare joys in my life. You have shown yourselves to be intelligent, funny, and generous. And many of you continuously surprise me with how are gracious and kind-hearted you can be. Many of you are enthusiastic to the point where it gives me a tingle.
I’m not just glad to have you as readers, I’m proud to have you as readers. You are my Cookie Crisp, and I don’t want one turd to spoil how I feel about you.
Good lord. I’m pretty sure I just wrote a completely new sentence. I’d be willing to bet what I just wrote up there has never, ever been said before in the history of history. Hallmark should turn that into a Sweetest Day card. I’d buy one.
Okay. We good here? Yeah. We’re good. Let’s move on to….
A while back, I was thinking to myself, “This fictional release date is going to cause problems. My lovely readers will be powerfully ensaddened. What could I possibly do to ease the sting of it a little?”
Then someone sent me a link to something Brandon Sanderson was doing.
So here is the silver lining. I’m going to hold a lottery, and the winner will get to have their name in book two. Maybe your name, or your mom’s, or your kid’s. Your choice.
Now I’m not saying that I’ll stick *any* name in. If your WOW character is named Wonkerbee Bumchuck, it just won’t work. But I’m sure the two of us will be able to get to a place where you’re happy, and the name is a welcome addition to The Wise Man’s Fear rather than something that compromises the integrity of the story.
I’m still working out the mechanics. But it will be free, and it will be open for everyone. When I get all the details worked out, I’ll make an announcement here on the blog.
This is my way of apologizing for the delay. It’s also my way of thanking you all for being gracious and patient with me. This I appreciate more than words can say.
[Edit: The name raffle has already happened. If you're interested, here's a link to the blog that talks about it.
We raised over 20,000 dollars for Heifer International, which you have to admit is pretty cool. If you missed it, I'm sorry. But rest assured we'll probably be doing something similar for book three....]