There’s a new Skies Unbroken Interlude chapter up.
So. Where have I been?
For the past few months, I’ve been mired in a serious downswing, a mix of deep burnout and a recurring mental writing block. This lead to the realization that my system of writing and workflow was flawed and needed to change. For the last couple weeks I’ve been alternating between light writing and analyzing my habits and goals, all while trying to get my mind back on track. This has resulted in a full reboot of my process, and I’m now in the testing phase of the revised system.
Specifically, when it came to Skies Unbroken, the previous model wasn’t working anymore. There was too much racing against the clock to get chapters done for weekly (ha!) posting. Whenever I ran out of buffer chapters, which was often, I was constantly falling into a cycle of draft-revise-revise-proof-post-repeat. Since I need a time gap between each phase of the cycle (the proverbial looking at something with fresh eyes), a single chapter was taking too much time. The entire rhythm was frightfully inefficient and resulted in frequent burnout.
If something’s broken, you’d best fix it. Going forward, Skies Unbroken chapters will only start going up when that episode is complete. If there’s a gap between episodes, so be it.
Structurally, there are nine episodes remaining, plus a prologue (above) and epilogue. This is effectively a short novel’s worth of work, and with the number of hanging plot threads, I needed to take a step back and organize the timing and outlines of all nine episodes in greater detail. That part’s done, at least. With a new organizational scheme to my workflow, and clarity on how and why I hit mental snags, I know I can complete episodes at a faster pace than I’ve maintained for the previous year and a half.
I have a number of additional changes in the pipeline, but wanted to address my main project first. The next episode of Skies Unbroken should be complete before the end of the month.
Episode Fifteen: Huntress, is complete with a short epilogue posted today. This one took a while, spanning a month on both sides of my holiday hiatus, but it deserved the extra time. It’s an important episode personally, driven by many of the underlying themes and originating reasons I had for starting this whole mad project in the first place. It’s also the penultimate turning point of the entire Skies Unbroken story, with the rest of the episodes accelerating to the ending.
Episode Sixteen is titled Derelict. Originally planned for last October, the early draft was glitchy and unsatisfying so I ice-boxed it and moved on to Huntress, then hit a mix of holidays and burnout and went on break. I’ve since defrosted it and figured out a way forward, cutting it down to a shorter flavor episode similar to Dust or the shorts making up Rest Days. It’ll be a two or three week cycle and features Silja and Wilcox.
Happy New Year! We’re back at the controls and here’s the score for Skies Unbroken in 2018.
At least, completion of the originally planned story. I started out thinking I could get this project done in three years and, despite a rough middle year of the process, that goal is somehow still achievable. There are currently nine episodes remaining in outlined/sketched form, though there are a couple points where a potential side job could slide in if inspiration or necessity strikes.
Structurally, I’m doing away with the Season and story arc frameworks from the last two years. The story and workflow were constantly rebelling against being put into buckets sized between “The whole damn thing” and “Episode ___”. This realization struck home when I compiled the first thirteen episodes into simple printed versions as Christmas gifts for a handful of family members. If anything, Skies Unbroken has two halves, Part One being pre-Ferron Expanse (everything through New Stakes), and Part Two being Ferron and what lies within.
Here’s a picture of a few of those gift copies. They’re nothing special (quick Lulu.com Print-on-Demands) but drove home the reality of how much work this series has been thus far. Its easy to lose sight of the volume of words when they reside purely in Word.docs and webpages. A much-needed sense of perspective when I was feeling worn-out late last year.
Skies Unbroken chapter updates resume on January 24th.
Skies Unbroken is now two years old. Officially, anyway. In some respects, it’s somewhere around six or seven, but those versions don’t really count beyond a few pieces of legacy hardware in the engine room. I kept trying to write a larger post for the anniversary this morning and they kept diving into excessively maudlin and downbeat tones.
Happy Birthday, kid. Take a breather. We got a long way further to fly.
Skies Unbroken will be going on a (customary?) end-year hiatus starting, oh, two weeks ago. My recent efforts have all be glitchy and disjointed, and I need a thorough reset, similar to what I did last year at the end of Season One. Routine maintenance, mostly involving updating world documents and staring at outlines that never survive contact with first drafts. As before, the gap will be patched with updates and whatever guidebook entries float to the top of the pile. Further, next week is the two-year anniversary of this whole mad project and I have a couple review and retrospective posts planned out. I’ll go in depth on the series so far in those.
In the meantime, I’m working on a palette cleanser of a writing project, conveniently coinciding with NaNoWriMo. This also makes sure I have another meter to fill which is already hilariously behind par. It’s the magi-tech infused spy novel I’ve mentioned before, though with a different spin on it from previous iterations.