One Year Later–Reflections

On Halloween night of 2022, I started writing the Coven redraft. Prior to this, I had been considering, once again, throwing in the towel and giving up. I wrote a page or two that night, just to say I started on Halloween. While I slogged along at first, eventually it went places I never expected.

While in the past, me giving up was due to lack of inspiration, this was different. This was demoralization. And it was from my own hubris.


When I wrote the rough draft of Silicon Flux, I was really excited to share it. It was the longest novel I’d ever written, being over 80K words, and I was pretty proud of myself for sticking it out despite my misgivings as I made my way through it. Due to this pride, I kind of got tunnel vision and lost perspective.

This came to a halt when I started getting beta reader feedback. I asked about a dozen people to read over it. I believe a total of two, maybe three finished it. Everyone else DNFed, mostly due to it just being…bad. A few were honest with me about this, and my reaction to this was so poor that everyone else kept quiet.

And now I tell myself, ‘well duh, it was a rough draft, of course it would be bad!’ But see, at the time, I felt it was so good and I was just so proud of it. And to find out I was wrong about it was absolutely mortifying. It might be the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done. Honestly despite everything, certain decisions I made relating to this still haunt me sometimes as I’m trying to sleep at night. Because ultimately, this was my doing. I should have known better. I even felt I had no right to write the book at all, and expressed regret multiple times.

All of this made me feel like I wasn’t cut out for writing. After all, if I’m unable to take some heavy criticism without literally blacking out, why write at all? I felt like a fraud, on so, so many levels.

Didn’t take long before I realized I couldn’t just…quit. My brain wouldn’t let me. I began to fixate on my planned redraft of Coven. I couldn’t help it, I just kept getting Ideas(tm). I didn’t want to, which is why it took me a full month to finally swallow my pride and do it.

I ended up scribbling out half a Coven scene on Halloween, about a month after completing Silicon Flux, because I couldn’t resist any longer (also felt like a good date to start). I knew I wouldn’t be able to and even joked about it at the time (‘Unfortunately, I’ve already started writing another book,’ I told a friend when asked how I was doing after a particularly rough day). I didn’t do much with it after this, at least not initially. I was still getting poor beta reader feedback and was struggling a bit to get my morale up due to this.


In late November, my boyfriend discovered some supplements that were supposed to help with a variety of issues, including calming my autism and OCD symptoms. After I started taking them, everything changed. These were almost like a miracle drug for me.

I didn’t notice until months later, but when I started these supplements, Coven was the main thing on my mind, and I was also idly considering a couple of rewrites of stuff I wrote in high school/college that I was idly considering working on. So basically, no new ideas at that point in time.

However, in this time I was getting story concepts. A friend mentioned she had come up with the idea of a shared universe she could work on in various mediums, such as novels, short stories, and illustrations. This was an idea I’d toyed with previously on a different series way back when. That’s when it hit me–I could make a shared universe of stories to go with Coven.

I began to sort my concepts–what could work for urban fantasy and what couldn’t? Eventually I began to actively plot one of them, and more soon followed. As I did more worldbuilding and built up my magic system, I got more ideas.


Another roadblock arose a few months after Chat-GPT was released. Initially, I loved using AI as a writing buddy (honestly, still do sometimes). I used Stable Diffusion to render character models to help me envision them better. I had Chat-GPT ask me questions about my book to help me flesh it out better and poke holes where needed.

Then it passed the Turing Test. Still being fragile from the beta reader feedback, I spiraled yet again. AI can write books, why do I bother? I might as well feed my ideas into a chatbot and let it do the work for me. It could write better, and probably make more money too.

This is when I had to reevaluate my priorities. Sure I could use AI to write. But that would be completely antithetical to why I began writing in the first place. I started writing because I had stories to tell. Me. And nobody can tell my stories better than I can. Using AI would defeat the purpose of writing for me. I’m not writing to impress people, nor am I writing to make money. Yes, the validation is nice. Yes, I’d love if I could write for a living. But that isn’t why I do it.

This has also helped me handle feedback better. Realizing I write for me first and foremost, because I have things to say, has helped me in many ways. I don’t stress myself out trying to write for an ‘audience’ anymore. I don’t push people to beta read anymore; in fact I rarely ask unless someone requests it (and even then I use my own judgment). Further, I don’t take myself so seriously anymore. After all, who am I trying to impress? I admittedly don’t know how I do with heavy criticism but so far I’ve taken feedback pretty well lately.


Since last Halloween, I have completed two novellas and am halfway done with a novel. Further, I am likely to be redrafting Silicon Flux in the near future. Also I technically finished the last novella within a year of finishing Silicon Flux, so it could be argued I completed three works in a year (though two were shorter).

On top of this, I have started multiple other rough drafts (to the extent I have a folder just for current drafts) on multiple other stories that are kind of simmering on the back burner right now. And, I have so many ideas in my head that I have to keep a spreadsheet to keep track of them all. I’ve been writing more consistently than ever before. For almost a month this summer I was clocking in about 1K words a day.

This was inconceivable to me a year ago. I didn’t even realize it was possible for me to actually be this dedicated and productive. I can’t say it’s been a perfect process and I’m some type of writing master now, but I’m learning my writing process a bit more and just going with it.


It’s wild to me how far I’ve come in just a year. Especially since I’ve been writing for over 20 years and have never made this much progress at once. I’m finally pretty confident in myself. Not just my skill, but my ability to grow and adapt. I might not be a perfect writer yet, but at least I’m aware of that fact. I’m working within my comfort levels but also trying to lightly push beyond them. I try not to beat myself or take myself too seriously. After all, I’m doing this for fun.

I’m so glad I didn’t give up. I’m glad I managed to find the spark I needed. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of things to write about again, even if I never got another new idea.

Maybe it’s too early to say, but I’m excited to see what’s in store in the coming year. I’ve made so much improvement already. I’m also excited to see what else I’ll complete. Maybe I’ll have another novel or two under my belt? Fingers crossed.






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