Well. That was a learning experience. I think that’s the best way to put it.
It’s impossible to say anything about Pact without inevitable comparisons to Worm, so I’ll bite that bullet right here and right now. I suppose what I can say is that where Worm was a triumph, in many respects, Pact was a means for me to grow as a writer.
I should start off by saying that I’m immensely grateful to my readers for reading through Pact and offering their feedback and support. Pact came to 948,800 words. We can round that up to 950k words, for the sake of brevity. It took almost half the time to write that Worm did, and came to about half the word count. You guys stuck it out with me, you shared your comments, and I was able to make a living as a writer in the meantime. I appreciate that more than you know.
On its own, to be making a living as a writer, maintaining a wage and a readership, that’s a triumph of sorts. That may be hard to recognize when compared to where I stood when Worm was done, but just about anything is going to pale in comparison to Worm, so maybe that’s unfair.
Why was Pact a learning experience? In part, it was something I needed to do to test waters and see what I was capable of. I know a lot of criticism that gets leveled at the series is because of how nebulous or vague the underlying system is. Magic in Pact is a vague thing, one that can be interpreted, bent, or otherwise misappropriated. There’s a logic behind it all, but it remains what it is. The characters are different, and the story itself takes on a different form, a struggle to catch one’s footing and find a place in the world, which can seem like our protagonist is mired in a situation with no way up or forward.
But being able to write that and see the audience reactions, see my own comfort level, it’s a valuable thing, and something I can carry with me to future writings. I don’t think I want to write something quite so loose in the future. I also got more comfortable with humor and lighter characters, and that’s something I had almost no confidence with at the start of Worm. I felt like I stumbled on certain elements, and exploring simple and juvenile forms of humor in Evan and the goblins was a good thing. I’ve collected a repertoire of things I now know that I want to do or not to do.
Pact taught me some other things, though. See, I want to be a career writer. I’d like to think I have the chops, but the fact of the matter is that I’ve only been doing this for three years and three months. The things I need to learn aren’t all about sentence or narrative construction or characterization. Some are about life.
Where Worm left me feeling like publishing (probably self publishing) was something I eventually had or have to do, I don’t feel that way with Pact. Pact isn’t bad, but it isn’t great, and I feel like the road to making Pact great enough to publish is long and awkward enough that it may not be worth it. It’s hard to say for sure.
Part of the reason for this is that Pact had a shaky start, and that made for a shaky foundation to build the rest on. Just off the end of Worm, I was distracted by real life. It was fairly happy as distractions went, my brother got married. It just so happened to be a marriage that took place a two hour trip from my place into the woods of Quebec. The married couple lived a five hour flight away, and I was close, so stuff fell on my shoulders (and on my mom’s, though she had recently been hospitalized for back problems; another distraction). There was a lot of peripheral stuff to do or get involved with, I was stressed in typical wedding-involved ways and I was interacting with people who were stressed in typical wedding-involved ways, and it made writing hard when it would have been really nice to focus on the story and make it more what I wanted it to be.
The wedding wasn’t the only thing going on, and I maintained my schedule while I moved out of Ottawa and found myself a little bit more elbow room in a smaller town with lower rent. Moving is a bit of a hassle, as it turns out, and moving to a nearby town when you don’t drive is even more so.
I was also trying to figure out a way forward with the editing of Worm, which proves tricky when it is the easiest thing to drop when real life gets hard or irritating. I know from experience that the way I operate best is to work hard one day, rest the next. It was the same when I studied and went to school, it was the same when I worked in the produce depot of grocery stores, and when I did some reno work or house painting. Wedging the editing in there is a tricky thing, and I’ve gradually adopted it, halting as it may be. It’s been a lot easier since I’ve moved, I can say that much.
In the midst of all of the above, I fell back on some old standbys and patterns and didn’t move the story forward, leading one storyline in particular to drag on. I didn’t sell the story as it should’ve been, and as much as my audience might have become frustrated at points, I felt that same frustration myself. In dragging everything to Toronto and sending Blake to the Abyss, there might have been a little bit of a desire on my end to change things up and get some fresh air.
It may never be clearly apparent to readers, but I’ve learned some valuable lessons about time management and balancing different aspects of my life. I’m hopeful that this will be evidenced by my being more consistent, wiser, and mature as a writer, because I intend to write until I physically can’t write anymore, and those are really good things to give evidence to.
All that said, I’m thrilled that the audience came to be as fond of Green Eyes and Evan (or just Evan, in some cases) as I was. It’s gratifying that my readers seemed to voice support for many of the same individual elements of Pact that I enjoyed writing, be it incidents with the goblins, aspects of the Abyss, or some of the better scenes.
I’m rather happy to be here, writing this, and I admit I’m relieved to be putting Pact to rest. It was a good thing, but I’m excited to be moving on. I think, much like Worm, it’s a setting I’ll have to revisit in the future. I’ve left some elements still to be resolved, and both Vista and Alexandria referenced the Maggie Holt series in Worm, so… that’s a possibility. Maybe something shorter and tighter, and in the spirit of the learning experience that Pact proved to be, something where I hold on to only the better things.
As suggested above, Worm’s editing process is underway, though it’s proving about as slow as I anticipated it being. In the interest of giving myself more structure with the editing process, I’m suspicious I may start asking Reddit for arc-by-arc feedback, revisiting the story one arc at a time and raising some of the issues or questions I have in regard to the editing, so stay tuned for that.
Pact was defined by threes. Worm is the past, Pact is the present (for now) and that only leaves the future. Story three.
The site won’t be open to the public until Tuesday, at the usual time. I’m not doing the sample thing, because I’m fairly certain I know what I want to write, and the samples have a way of breaking hearts one way or another. On a similar note, I’d rather avoid dropping any hints about genre or anything else, because many will hear ‘sci-fi’ or ‘fantasy’ and they go in with preconceived notions and expectations.
To find out what niche it fits in, you’ll have to check it out. With that in mind, and on that note, I hope to see you guys for serial number three.
Thank you, and I really do mean that. You guys are great, and I wouldn’t be where I am without you.