When the going gets tough

I often receive comments, e-mails, complaints, etc. from fans of my books, asking when the next in a series is coming out, or why I take so long between books, or whatever.  I do my best to answer them, but it’s hard because they simply don’t understand my circumstances, which aren’t the greatest in the world as far as creativity is concerned.  A number of other writers have their own problems, too.  I’ve noticed more and more complaints about lack of time, lack of progress, lack of anything and everything that they need to succeed.

I therefore decided it was time to address the issue head-on.  I’ve done so over at Mad Genius Club this morning, in an extended article looking at my current situation, the challenges I’m facing, and what I’m doing about them.  If you’ve wondered why I’m not producing books fast enough to meet your expectations, you’ll find much of the answer over there.  Please click over there and read it for yourself.

I’m not holding myself up as any sort of shining example, or looking for sympathy.  Life happens.  I’m doing my best to cope with it (and to stop it happening even harder, in some circumstances!).  We all are.  I’m very grateful for all my blessings, and I’ll continue to try to meet your expectations.  Please be patient with me when I don’t.  There are good reasons for it.




  1. This side of Christ himself, no author can turn out books fast enough to satisfy the cravings of his fans. So all you can really do is do your best to turn out a quality product at the best sustainable rate that you are able to.

    That and take criticisms that you don't write fast enough as complements – you're obviously doing something right if we can't get enough of it!

  2. I sympathize. I had major back surgery on 24 Aug 2012 and found out this last summer that most men who have what I did don't make it back to work. I've been back to work since the middle of September '12. But, they haven't been pain free years. My pain hovers in the 1-3 range. On occasion I wake up pain free, but then I move and it sets it all off again. The memory foam mattress has helped enormously in that regard.

  3. ah, you should meet my sister. she's the slowest writer in the world and gets out a book every 5 years or so. i'm always surprised she has hordes of fans.

  4. Much as I want new books from favorite authors, I understand that they can't just be stamped out, cookie-cutter fashion. So I wait patiently and pounce as soon as I see a new release. So take your time, do it right, deal with life, etc., and I'll be happy with whatever you can produce. Frustration builds character, right? 🙂

  5. http://www.georgerrmartin.com/

    You don't have to write faster than the bear, you just have to write faster than him… Or something like that.

    Much as I'm eager to hear what Steve Maxwell, Walter Ames, and the good people of Laredo are up to, it's important to me that the telling of the story is also a joy to the storyteller and not a burden.

    Have a Happy Christmas, and bring us tales when you can.

  6. I know a few, a very few, writers who have to work while experiencing constant patn.
    Every page they write is n unexpected and undeserved gift.

  7. "When will your next book finally come out?"
    "When I'm finally done writing it and it's been submitted to the publisher, published, and ready for release.
    Next question …."

  8. Ye gods man, you don't need to justify yourself to anyone except yourself. Whatever you do is your decision, and you are not beholden to anyone else regarding your choices.

    I struggle to get up and go to work every day with my knees, and some days I don't make it in on time…or at all. I've made it clear to my boss, and she accepts that I'm limited in what I can accomplish. Your fans should do the same.

  9. When it comes to writing, quality over quantity every time. I've quit reading one of my favorite authors simply because he's (apparently) more concerned about deadlines instead of a well thought out storyline.

  10. Peter,
    I watch my brother deal with a spinal injury every time I get off my boat. I spend 2 days with him, and it's been a terrible eye-opener. The things we expect to see; addiction, depression, suffering, crises of faith and despair, they're awful. The things we don't expect to see are worse- loss of the ability to focus, loss of hope, attention deficit, a winnowing of friends and relationships… I know they're out there, and you have to watch out for all of these. I see in you (and in my brother) how faith anchors you, and it's something you should be rightfully proud of, being anchored like that where so many are not.

    I've enjoyed your work, and it's been a pleasure to see, reading chronologically, how you've gone from a journeyman writer to a masterful author, someone whose books inspire people to write down the publishing date ahead of time. God's plan for you came with some terrible challenges between your health and your history, but seeing how you deal with it is inspiring. God bless you now, and I hope your lifestyle changes bear fruit.

  11. I love your work, and have them in dead-tree copies, but I KNOW and accept that I can read fasdter than you can write. 🙂

    John Sage – JPDev

  12. As a reader, I'm well aware that different writers produce work at different speeds.

    In a roughly 15 year timespan in the 50's-60's, Lionel Fanthorpe produced at least 180 novels for Badger Books (we don't know exactly how many because of all the pseudonyms he used). They weren't great — but they were readable enough to keep selling.

    In contrast, between Hal Clement's first novel in 1950, and his death in 2003, Hal produced 15 novels, of which one, Mission of Gravity, is probably the finest exemplar of hard SF ever written.

    Or, to pick an example of a current writer, Tim Powers has written 14 novels in a 40+ year career (with a new one coming out next year). And two of those, The Anubis Gates and Declare are among the finest genre novels of their decades.

    Different writers, different speeds. And I don't care about how fast the works are produced; I just care that they're the best the author can produce (and, if you're a Clement, or a Powers, that best is magnificent).

    So, as a reader of your books, you're meeting my expectations. All I can, and do, expect is that you'll produce the best books you can, in the timeframe that you can produce them, and that, based on past history, the "best books you can" will be well worth my reading time. Which you have, which is why I'll buy the next book when it comes out.

  13. I've been a near-lifelong reader…it's remained my always-reliable, constantly-available form of entertainment throughout the course of my life, ever since I first learned to interpret the printed/written word(s) – and I'm now well-into my 70's. In all of that time, I have quite reliably been guided by the basic principle – no matter who the writer(s)'ve been – that readers should ALways expect the following from an author: 1)Good, 2)Affordable, 3)Fast – Choose any two you wish, but you cannot expect to get all three…and, choose carefully – they are listed in strict order of importance!

    Take the time you require – you owe NO ONE apologies, nor even an explanation…

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *