Shifting Gears

So, I’ve had a lot of people ask me the same question over the last few weeks, especially as work on Jungle wound down and slowed. Sometimes their wording is a bit different, sometimes it’s the same. But all of it boils down to one simple concept: Now what?

It’s not hard to see where that question is coming from. Finishing up a project like Jungle (now available for pre-order, just plugging that now) is kind of like reaching the top of a titanic mountain. First comes elation, then wonder at the grandeur … But eventually, as you sit there looking around, the question does arise in your mind of “Now what?”

Well, maybe I can answer that for the many people who’ve asked or have been wondering but haven’t quite gotten the curiosity to ask yet. Now what?

Well, I know what. Even if I’ve asked myself the question before. This morning, when I woke up, it hit me that Jungle was, for all intents and purpose, DONE. All that’s left is to upload the final file. And make a last-minute paranoia check that yes, it is done.

But … that doesn’t mean that I’ll be sitting around wondering what to do next. I already know what I’m doing next. I’ll be starting work on Axtara – Banking and Finance again. Which means once this post is done, I’ll be rereading what’s been written so far to catch myself up and then I’ll be working on getting that draft finished. Plus, I’d really like to do another chapter of Stranded, and then there’s Fireteam Freelance to start, which will be my next big project. After that, Starforge, and then …

Point is, I know what I have to do next. Writing, like other jobs, is a form of work. Which means no sooner do you get something done than you know there’s going to be something else to do. There’s always more to do.

But … if I’m honest, that’s not really what people are asking. Okay, some of them are. Some of them genuinely are shocked that writers plan ahead. Probably because they’re in that sector of writing experience where they believe that writing comes from a “muse” and once the project is over, that muse is gone.

Most people know that’s not true though, and that writing is work. So they’re not asking “Now what?” in the sense of “What will you do next?” Rather, they’re asking something that’s a bit more on-point. They’re asking “How will you do next?”

Honestly? That’s a pretty good question, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some of the novice writers out there who’ve been working on their own projects are wondering the same thing as the end of said project approaches.

Hence, why I titled this post “Shifting Gears.” I know what I need to do next. But that’s also going to be very different.

How different? Well, the last three months especially, I’ve barely done much fiction writing. It’s all been editing. And it’s been intense. I’m talking “eight hours of editing after a six-hour shift” sort of intense. As I said in a prior post on here, looking back, I can’t remember much of anything from August, September, or October except work. That’s all I did with my life was edit Jungle. From when I got up to when my head couldn’t take any more, usually around twelve to fourteen hours straight.

So shifting out of that is … weird. It’s almost like walking back down the mountain from the earlier analogy. I’ve reached the peak, made that final, brutal push to the top … and now I walk back down, a much more sedate practice than the journey up (usually, but we’re talking analogies here).

I have to shift my mind over from the frantic day-to-day of editing back to the day-to-day of writing. It’s no longer about looking for typos, missed words, and other tiny mistakes. It’s about plotting out a story, then writing that scene by scene.

It’s a shift. It’s kind of hard after months of intense editing to sit down and “click over” back to writing out a story, to putting together scenes and character. But you know what? It’s not that big a shift. And it’s a familiar one.

Sure, I’ve been editing for months. But I was writing for a lot longer before that. And once I put my fingers to the keyboard, once I see where I left off, or even start a new project … Once those characters start acting … Well, I’m along for the ride. I might take a day or two to fall into the old groove (grinding my gears a bit, so to speak), but it comes back pretty quick.

At which point, I’ve reached the bottom of the last mountain, and I’m starting up the next. There’s a new peak in view, and I’m ready to see it. A new trail to climb, a new path to wear. New boots to break in.

Sure, with something like Axtara, I’ve already made it partway up the trail (it’s partially written already). So I’ll be cutting across from one mountainside to the other.

But while the trail forward is new, the process—one foot in front of another, paragraph by paragraph—is old and familiar.

I’ll see you at the top, folks.

Until then, grab yourselves a copy of Jungle and see what the last mountain was all about.

Max Florschutz, signing off to head onward and upward!

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