Interesting deliberations.

I'm five years up on you. I'm 70 and had my first novel published in 2010. I never cared about being published; I just wanted to write because I love words. I really LOVE words and painting a story with them.

It was never ever about gratification but it was always a compunction. What surprised me on publication - indie of course - was that I did actually entertain folk. That never ceases to amaze me.

Fourteen novels and anthologies later, many awards, a renovated laundry and a degree of complete contentment, I have no expectations at all. Never did have actually. But I love that historical fiction and historical fantasy readers took a chance on an unknown indie - I am and will always be forever grateful and have 'met' many lovely book-folk.

I bought your novel when it was first released. I have a beta-e- read to finish reading and a print novel as well and then you're next. Looking forward to it as I love hist.fict!!!

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Apr 19, 2022·edited Apr 19, 2022Liked by G. M. Baker

I've often thought about this same concept with the language of "feedback loops." A book is a very long feedback loop: You have to write the whole chapter before you can get a sense of it, maybe the whole book before you know if it's "working." Compare that to a musical instrument where you can learn a few measures at a time and tell that they're starting to sound nice, or graphic design where you can determine if the shapes and colors are moving in the right direction. Or compare that to video games, which are designed to have feedback loops as often as possible. The best-selling Civilization series was designed to give the player a burst of dopamine every 90 seconds. And that's slow compared to most modern games.

The thing about feedback loops is that they don't necessarily bring gratification. If you get to the end of your book and decide none of it worked, that's not very gratifying. So part of the delay in a book isn't even the sense of gratification but the ability to know if you should feel gratified.

You are also spot-on with the idea of finding happiness along the way. I remember reading somewhere that "Flipping burgers sucks. But so does being a CEO some days. Every profession has its pain points and its pleasures. So find the one whose pain points you can stand." I think the same is true here. In addition to being a writer, I've dabbled in many other creative hobbies, including digital art and painting. But I realized one time that I had to paint a whole forest to finish a piece and I couldn't even stand the idea of doing that. That's when I gave up. Because when it comes to writing, there's some part of me that takes satisfaction even in the most monotonous parts. Like Prue said in her comment, I love words, so working with words brings me joy even in the pain.

I recall a time in college when I was deciding whether I wanted to pursue writing or video game development as my life's passion. I decided to do a bit of both and see which one I liked better. There came a day during the writing when nothing was working, my characters were flat, my plot had stalled, and all of my descriptions sounded like they'd been written by 3rd graders. I said to myself, "I would rather be doing anything than this." And so I tried making a video game. And there came a day when my code wouldn't compile, my art assets wouldn't load, the graphics engine kept crashing, and I said to myself," I would rather be doing anything than this."

I realized that this is the nature of creative life. So I picked the hobby that mattered most to me and decided to soldier on. Five years later, here I am working on book #3 with no idea if or when any of them will be published. But that's the journey.

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Time seems to fly by faster as we get older, waiting for a publisher to launch your book is worse than waiting for Christmas as a kid. I do hope your book is picked up by the publisher, it's what you are used to. Kudos for self-publishing - your cover is amazing. One of my first series is now with a production company. An email from them came out of the blue earlier this year. I thought it was spam, until it wasn't. While 90% or so never reach filming, it is a challenging adventure with a very long wait too. This article gives one an idea of how many books author's compete with monthly: https://justpublishingadvice.com/there-are-now-over-5-million-kindle-ebooks, or at least 50,000/month or 7,500/day. It takes courage to launch one's book into that fray.

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congratulations on the publication of your novel! i understand completely about choosing the wrong style and period for the historical fiction market, and i applaud you for seeing your project through to the end regardless. my reading list is currently full, but i will definitely check it out. best of luck with it!

as for delayed gratification, my own project followed a similar course, except i've been writing it for probably over 10 years now (should i admit that? ;-) and had an agent briefly, but no publisher wanted it. so here i am. but, like most of us, i write because i love it, so i'll be happy wherever it takes me...

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Well said! Getting comfortable with navigating delayed gratification may be one of the most underrated skills of novelists.

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