K. B. Hoyle is the author of Breeder. In this post she discusses her experience writing her seventh novel.
Writing Breeder was a unique experience for me for a number of reasons.
It’s my seventh completed novel, so it’s not as though I didn’t know what I was doing, but I had this crazy shift to make in my thinking in order to knock out this novel. My deadline for getting Breeder turned in to my publisher was very close to the deadline for the sixth and final fantasy novel in my Gateway Chronicles series. I finished the first draft of that book, The Bone Whistle, and turned it in the first week of January, then I gave myself about a week and a half to rest and get my brain back before starting work on Breeder, which was due something like the second week in March.
Would I be as successful in my dystopian writing?
I hadn’t written anything other than fantasy for the six years since I started my professional writing career, and I’d never even dreamed I would write a book in first person present tense until the idea for The Breeder Cycle came to me. I had to shift from the mixed modern teen/quasi-medieval third person limited perspective to a futuristic dystopian first present perspective so quickly it felt like turning on a dime. Granted, I didn’t do it completely cold, as most of my notes were complete for Breeder long before I started writing it, and I’d taken care to take all my notes in the appropriate voice and perspective, but I still had these cold-sweat moments of wondering if I could really do what I was setting out to do.
I was just reaching a point of burnout.
My fantasy writing has resonated so well with readers of all stripes; would I be as successful in my dystopian writing? Because of some of these doubts and adjustments, I started off writing Breeder slower than my usual pace and entered February with not nearly as much done as I needed to have done. I was behind, and I hate being behind, but aside from the week and a half break I’d taken after The Bone Whistle, I’d been writing between 10,000-20,000 words a week since October, and I think I was just reaching a point of burnout. When my substantive edits on The Bone Whistle came back with a turnover deadline that was almost on top of my deadline for the first draft of Breeder, I nearly had a come apart. I was also in my first trimester of pregnancy with my fourth child at the time and feeling rotten and so exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open.
I finally admitted needing something to give and asked my publishing house for an extension on the manuscript for Breeder, which they graciously approved, and I put it aside so I could finish up the first round of edits on The Bone Whistle. I never take long breaks from a manuscript while I’m writing it; it’s usually counterproductive for me to do so because it breaks my stride. But I was so overwhelmed with my schedule and life that I had no choice. I knocked out my end of The Bone Whistle edits with little difficulty, then took a legitimate break to take a long-anticipated, bed and breakfast-hopping 10th anniversary trip to Ireland, Wales, and England with my husband. Home from the trip with a renewed determination to complete Breeder, I returned to the manuscript after about a three-week hiatus from it and finished it up ahead of my extended deadline.
Sometimes the creative process is better aided by rest.
The break must have really done me good, because when I got back the manuscript evaluation on it, it was the most positively any of my books have ever been received by my editing team. I’m a chronic over-worker, and the crazy schedule was my fault, not my publisher’s fault, as I asked for certain release dates on my books, but the whole experience was a reminder to me that sometimes the creative process is better aided by rest.
Thank you, K.B. Hoyle!