Well, seven years after I wrote a scene in which a young monk is whipped while trying to paint a thrush, I can finally say it: The Emperor’s Blades is out on the shelves. Oddly, the money-laden dump truck driven by attractive fans has not yet arrived in the driveway, but maybe that happens tomorrow.
I’m a slow learner, but even for slow learners seven years is enough time to pick up a few lessons. Here’s what I’ve got:
1. It is never a good idea to drink five cups of coffee before noon.
2. That scene you spent a week and a half on, the one you thought was going to be the psychological pivot for an entire act? Yeah, it’s crap. Cut it.
3. When you find a brilliant beta reader, marry her. It’s the only way to ensure she’ll see the project through to the end.
4. Back up your fucking hard drive. Back up your fucking hard drive, you idiot. Back up your fucking hard drive.
5. If you dress zombies up with a fancy new name, they are still just zombies. Cut ‘em.
6. One beer might help the creative process. One. O. N. E. 1.
7. You think you write clean prose? Prose that will leave the copyeditor with little to do? Ha. Ha ha ha. Ha.
8. When you start cursing and poking at the screen, it’s time to get up and go for a run.
9. If you’re still worked up about whatever wasn’t working when the run is over, the run is not over. Go do the other loop.
10. Tweeting is not writing.
11. Facebooking is not writing.
12. Google+ing is not writing.
13. Blogging is sort of writing, but you’re not gonna get a book out of it.
14. That whole plot line with the Urghul girl as a point of view character? The one that’s a hundred thousand words long? Yeah. Cut it.
15. If you make eye contact with the dogs, they might stop chasing you. Or they might not.
16. Always listen to your agent. She is smarter than you. She is more experienced than you. Without your agent you would be like a baby deer wandering around inside the lion cage at the zoo. Except you are not cute like a baby deer.
17. Your friends, for reasons known only to them, actually believe you can pull this off.
18. Your baby is probably screaming because you’re not writing fast enough.
19. Remember when you didn’t know what an editor did? No? That’s because now that you’ve realized your editor does everything, the thought of putting out a book without him is inconceivable.
20. Stop typing and make a sandwich already. A healthy human can go thirty days without eating, but it doesn’t make for very good prose.
21. Just because you wrote eight thousand words in one day doesn’t mean you’re allowed to keep any of them.
22. Stop trying to come up with titles. Just stop. Stop.
23. The book has your name on it, but without your wife’s help at literally every step of the process, it would just be a pile of scribbled-on pages like Russell Crowe’s crazy papers in A Beautiful Mind.
24. Even if the book is a steaming turd, it doesn’t matter. You have wonderful friends and wonderful family, people who don’t really want to handle a steaming turd, but will do so if necessary and keep loving you at the same time.
25. That scene with the monk? The first one you wrote seven years ago? Yeah. It’s crap. Cut it.