I am about to ramble on at length about my internal/external slowdown factors, plus my writing process, so if you'd like to skip all that and just find out when the next chapter is coming, I'll tell you now. I'll be publishing A New Day, Chapter 39 next weekend, either Friday or Saturday night, depending on how much rewriting has to be done once the chapter comes back from the betas.
The external distractions included a couple of lemons, a 40K bike ride (it was wonderful! Imagine being high on endorphins for over two hours!) visitors, a brief but very debilitating illness, and house-painting. But interruptions like these that come from outside me are par for the course in my life. They will always be there and I accept that.
It was the internal distractions that caught me by surprise.
I am not a person who has to be in a certain mood to write. My creativity is not a tap that turns on and off by itself. I don't wait for 'muses' or anything like that. I don't even have to be well-rested, alert, or in good health. (In fact, I've done some of my best writing when I was as sick as a dog, and therefore home from work) I have enough self-discipline, most of the time, to make myself sit down and write when I'd rather do something else. For me, the main difficulty is time. I have a very full and busy life.
Fortunately or unfortunately, my head is like a cineplex, playing movies all the time, and I constantly have to push them back and keep them at bay so I can do my job and play my various roles in life without slowing down and staring off into space. When I get a piece of uninterrupted time, even if it's just 15 minutes, I sit down and write something.
Of course, sometimes I may not be in the mood to write one thing in particular. For example, sometimes I'm not in a lemon-writing mood, I'm in an action or angst-writing mood. I have multiple projects going for that reason. One story's call might be stronger than another's on any given day. I rarely write my stories in chronological order because it's not necessary. I know where they're going, so I can write key scenes from any point in the timeline whenever I feel like writing a particular kind of scene.
So what happened recently was that I ran into an internal block. A New Day just wouldn't move forward. The problem was not that I didn't know what was going to happen. The problem was that I became concerned about my excessive wordiness and the excessive length of this story. I wanted to keep it within 40 chapters, and in order to do that, I was facing cutting out a lot of scenes that really wanted to be written. I reasoned that I could still impart the plot-central information from these scenes by referring to them, or reporting them instead of letting the information come out at the more roundabout pace that it wanted to. I became preoccupied with choosing which scenes to cut and which ones to abridge and ended up choking off the flow and working against myself.
It's true that this story is too long. This has really been a learning experience for me, and I can't even say I've learned the lesson. I don't actually know if I can make the next one shorter and tighter. If I were to go over A New Day and cut out, say, 200 pages, to make it a more normal length, I don't think I would know where to begin.
But it's possible that I'll be able to keep length in mind as I write the next one and make it tighter and more disciplined as I go. I'll have to wait and see. A New Day was the first creative writing I have done in my non-student adult-life, apart from one doomed effort in my mid-twenties. (I wrote 4 pages before my interest died) My experience with A New Day has been like writing a book, and I've never written a book before. Nor have I written any short stories in my life, except the ones I've written for the Fake fandom.
I think I've improved as a writer since I began posting Fake stories about two years ago. At one point I thought I should maybe read a book about how to write, so I went to the library and read one and basically learned that I was already instinctively doing most of the things that the book said I should. But I still have a lot more to learn, like how not to write books that would weigh sixteen pounds if they were actual books!
I'm sure there are people out there who have read and enjoyed my shorter stories, but find their spirits quail at the enormous time commitment that A New Day poses!
So as I said earlier, look for Chapter 39 here on my LJ next weekend. There won't be nearly as long a wait for Chapter 40. Now that I've given myself permission to take as many chapters as I need to finish this story, the flow is back to normal.
Thank you all for your patience. I personally hate waiting, so I really wish I didn't have to make you wait so long between chapters.