It is done.
Yes, after six months of intensive story-design work really, after six years, 14 books, and 1.5 million words building up to this I sat down and wrote nearly ⅓ of a million words, in about 100 days. (Because I am a moron, and a masochist. But I guess we knew that.) The climax and conclusion of the entire ARISEN epic.
I honestly wasn’t sure I’d get here.
To try to create the focus it became clear I needed (having anything in the diary started to feel unbearably stressful), I basically put myself in isolation for the last couple of months doing virtually nothing but eat, sleep, run, and write, seven days a week. (And I stopped running by the end out of energy for it!) The price you pay for this, I found, is that isolation is where all the doubts really smack you in the face and the demons come out to cavort. So, in addition to doing what was by a comfortable margin the hardest work of my life (didn’t think the material could get more challenging than Books Eleven & Twelve shows what I know!), I found I was having to fight sort of a parallel spiritual battle alongside it. But I guess that’s nothing new, either. As we know, “the Writer’s Journey is the Hero’s Journey” it has to be. If the writer doesn’t fight through Hell to the Life that lies beyond, then the Hero’s attempt to do so will ring false and the reader won’t be transported there either. We’re all on the same journey. (I think they call it Life.)
Still, there were many, many moments when I stared at all the hundreds of scenes I (still!) had left to execute, and doubted terribly that I would be able to pull this off. I honestly didn’t believe my strength, my talent, my resolve, were equal to the task. A moment came at the end when, months past exhaustion, I suddenly realized the ending didn’t work the whole ending of the entire series. And if the ending doesn’t work… the story doesn’t work. So I had to crawl back to the story-design drawing board and rearchitect the whole climax from scratch. That was a true Dark Night of the Soul™, let me tell you. But, as always, I didn’t have to feel like it I just had to do it. And, somehow, I did.
And now I’ve gotten to the end. Plus survived.
And, just between you and me, I do believe I pulled it off: that I nailed it, wrote something that lives up to and exceeds everything that came before, that wraps up everything in the series every character journey, every story thread exactly as it should be, and that blows the doors off in the process. (Of course the readers will be the final judge of that, as they should be.) Normally I hate any just completed book, so liking this one is either a really good sign or else a really bad one. Then again, I actually rather did like Book Twelve when I got done with it and I think, and think most of you agree, that’s the best one in the series (so far). So maybe all that’s happening is I’m finally, fumblingly starting to meet my own standards for myself and the work.
It’s funny, but I’ve asked myself what keeps me going, and I’m pretty sure it’s two things. One, my obligation to the characters I can’t let those guys down! And, two, more predictably… my obligation to you guys, the readers. As I’ve said many times, you’re the best and loveliest and most switched-on and supportive group of fans any author could remotely hope for. And I definitely can’t let you guys down.
And, hey, I beat George R. R. Martin. Heck, Glynn and I banged out the entire series in just the time he’s been working on his next one! And ARISEN is longer than ASOIAF. You’re welcome.
Much remains editing, conversion, more editing, copyediting, proofreading, publishing, paperbacks, audiobook production, &c… but look for a launch date announcement very soon.
And get ready for a serious ride all the way to the end of the line.