Whew. It's been a very strange year. Sometimes you have those I suppose, and sometimes, I suppose you need them.
AER is done, you guys. 96K words and change, off to edits for a release of September 16th.
On this, I just have to say OMG... around January, I was actually afraid I wasn't going to be able to deliver. I just couldn't find my rhythm with this one. I thought this was because of the story itself...the characters, the plot arc, all the obvious probable causes, but I came to realize that I was actually just having a hard time finding my rhythm in general.
In hindsight, the past year has definitely been a time of transition, and while going through such things is an absolute ass-pain, I must say that I'm pretty happy here on the other side. Here's what I've learned:
* Some things--people, positions, practices--you think you really want, you don't really need; in fact, they're detrimental for one reason or another...maybe they're parasitic, or maybe you've just outgrown them, and you're actually better off without them.
* Some things--people, positions, practices--you think you don't really want, you actually need; in fact, they challenge you to be your best "you," the truest version of you, even if they don't obviously seem like it at first, and once you get out of your own way, you come to appreciate these things that much more.
All that to say, I'm a big believer in parallel roads, that is, when you don't know what to do to fix a situation, so you just try to travel in a parallel direction until you figure it out. I learned this lesson as an archaeology major in Southwestern Oklahoma back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
To make a long story short, I was carpooling home with a fellow student, a new army sergeant friend I'd made in class, and we were just leaving the dig site of our final expedition. This was before the days of smartphones and British accent Siri GPS dude, keep in mind, and I made a wrong turn somewhere. Well, we found ourselves on this rural dirt road in the middle of nowhere, so of course, my super organized-always-has-a-plan self started freaking out. Fortunately, though, my new army sergeant friend told me, "Hey, relax. Just keep following a parallel road in the general direction of where we need to go," (in this case, it was West), and we'd eventually reconnect with the highway. Lo and behold, that's exactly what happened.
SO, fast forward to January with that in mind...since I knew I needed to do some metaphorical housekeeping but didn't even remotely know where to start, I did some literal housekeeping: we rented a dumpster and tossed out every bit of excess in the house. We pulled up the old carpet, threw out anything broken or worn out, and you know what, by the time we were done with all that, I knew exactly what I needed to do personally too. What's more, I knew how to let go of things-people-positions-practices I thought I wanted but were no longer good for me.
I cut ties with a few toxic people, I started seriously running and hiking again, I started journaling more often, and about three months later, I'd written around 60K additional words, finishing AER.
I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes when you're not sure where to go next, it's not the characters or the plot arc needing direction after all because, well...they're not the ones driving, you know? ;)