Last night I was asked if I would be continuing the story of Et Alia. I tentatively said ‘yes’ for the next book, but I didn’t say that this was actually a pretty sensitive subject.
Et Alia was my first ever major project that I shared with the public. Back then it was a comic strip. I got through some 300 strips before it fell apart: I couldn’t keep up with the updates due to my growing social life, my depression, and the fact that they took longer and longer to make as my skill improved and my perfectionism took over.
Ultimately, I was forced to stop posting the first iteration of Et Alia, then known as E the C. About a year later, I started work on it again — but I was so distressed by the poor quality of the first comics that I started over from the beginning. What followed was a series of fits and starts and reboots that ran a good five, six years. I was still struggling with my identity, my anxiety, and my depression at the time. It didn’t help that I was too perfectionist to accept what I’d made and keep going, which caused interruptions and delays in the updates, which made me feel like a failure as an author and artist, which fueled my depression, anxiety, and crisis of identity.
I tore up, burned, or otherwise disposed of most of my art at one point or another because of E the C. Or rather, because of fits of despondency while working on E the C.
Et Alia is another story (ha!). I started over from scratch once more when I started converting E the C to prose, and in the process I made some subtle — and some less than subtle — adjustments. I work with prose better than I do images (though I do miss drawing, sometimes) and, well, not being able to visually compare my work with another author’s and find it lacking helped a lot with the feelings of inadequacy and imperfection. Making the decision to get away from comics was an important one for me, and a good one. Starting therapy and getting on anxiety medications pretty much took care of the rest of it: I started Midnight Moonlight when I made my first appointment for therapy, and I’ve been much happier and far more productive with Midnight Moonlight than I have anything else.
In the past few months, particularly, (now that we seem to have my medication and hormone treatments down pat) I’ve been able to write and update more consistently than I used to even believe I was capable of. It’s been amazing, and I’m pretty damn happy with it and myself. I still struggle a little with motivation sometimes — usually in regards to housework, rather than writing. And I still have my bad stretches. But these days a ‘bad stretch’ means playing video games for a couple hours a night for a week, or reading way too much when I don’t have my updates done. In the past a ‘bad stretch’ involved burying myself so deep in escapism that I wasn’t aware of the world passing around me and then, if I was eventually drawn out of it by the need to post something, going into a fit of guilt and shame and self deprication and failure that ended in either something I made being destroyed, or some form or another of self-harm.
(Yes, those parts of Abby’s story are informed from my personal experience.)
Anyway, when I mentioned to my wife that one of my readers had asked if I would continue Et Alia because they wanted to know how it ended, she immediately flashed back to all of those less than good times that I had been working on it.
To be frank, I’d been having a bit of a flashback to them, too.
The thing is, I love those characters. I love that story. It is far more vast and enormous in my head than I would think you’d expect from reading the silliness in book 1 — but then again, Midnight Moonlight started out like a hackish paranormal romance, and look how it’s developed!
Any away, I’ve regretted abandoning Et Alia. At the same time, I have a pretty complex set of emotions relating to it, and not all of them are positive. I would like to pick it up again, but I’m innately afraid of a lot of bad past experiences, too. It makes the prospect a lot more troubling than it really should be.
Ultimately, I am going to revive it for book 2. I already have most of that book written, actually. (Well, three fourths, anyway.) That gives me a hefty enough buffer that I’m not really worried about it interfering with Midnight Moonlight’s updates, which is important — and Et Alia chapters are generally a lot faster to write than Midnight Moonlight ones. An MM chapter can take one to three hours. An Et Alia chapter can take five to thirty minutes. That’s not a horrible time requirement, and I think it’ll be good for me to have another avenue for getting out of Abby’s head for a little bit. I write as a stream of consciousness, and holding Abby’s mindset while I do that can… well, I can get burned out on that after a while, heh. Which doesn’t mean I get depressed or anxious or anything: it just means that when I end a chapter and get ready to start the next I wind up staring blankly at my screen, unable to figure out what the first word should be.
I also think it’ll be interesting to see how Et Alia evolves if I’m writing it while I’m *not* depressed. It’s already subtly different from E the C just by merit of being prose — I kind of want to see what it could be if I actually treat it right; put it up on the Webfiction guide and actually try to encourage some people to read it, rather than being half ashamed that it exists and afraid I’ll let anyone who stumbles onto it down by failing to post updates as regularly as I should, or of the quality I should, or… well, any of the other reasons I used to beat myself up over E the C.
Anyway, that’s what’s been on my mind. Mostly for last night; some for this morning, since that’s when I was writing it all out. :p Ultimately, I’m pretty excited to pick up Et Alia again. I’m doing it with the provision: This is just a trial while for Book 2. I’m going to have to figure out how it works while I have Midnight Moonlight running, too, and MM is going to take priority. Et Alia Book 3? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have *books* worth of stories for Et Alia. But we’ll just have to see how it works out.
Ideally? I’ll get off my butt and start monetizing Midnight Moonlight — advertise the eBooks on BookBub, set up a Patreon account; all that jazz. If I can earn enough with my writing, I can scale back on all the overtime I spend at the day job (I’m currently working five eight hour days, and then two five hour days for Saturday and Sunday. I don’t actually have a day off anymore, and I haven’t been off from work without being sick, going to a pre-scheduled event, or taking care of someone else who was sick in *months*). If I can scale back on the overtime, I can have weekends again — and that means ten hours of writing (a little more, actually, since there’s no commute involved). And those ten hours could turn into a week’s worth of Midnight Moonlight, or a month of Et Alia, or a few chapters of one of the other hundreds of stories crammed in my head and driving me crazy trying to get out. (I don’t want to put *any* of my work behind a paywall. But, realistically? If I want to write professionally it might make better sense to have some things on Kindle Unlimited or something. Still *sort of* ‘free,’ but I’d be getting paid for page reads. I don’t know, though. I have trouble justifying making people pay for my work — especially while my day job is providing my entire income, and I don’t *need* the extra money from my writing… except, of course, that if I want to write as a professional authoress full time then I sort of *do* need to get paid for it so I can scale back on the day job… gah, I *hate* that circle. But that’s a topic for another time.)
Anyway, that’s all for now. If I have time to write I should really spend it on a story. 😉
Take care everyone.