I managed to drag myself across the 70k word mark last night.
I've been having trouble producing high word counts since I started this project. My brain just feels like it's gotten stuck in a lower gear... and, this week, I discovered this to be true.
I had several clues something bad was happening to my health:
Clue one: Constant drowsiness. Basically, since mid January, I've been having a severe energy crash every afternoon, and pretty much have to take a nap around 4pm, or I'm useless in the evening. Now, naps for me are nothing unusual... for ages I've fought insomnia, and I would frequently only sleep 4 or 5 hours a night, then catch up with naps once or twice a week. However, since January, the insomia has vanished. When I lay down, I'm asleep, and can sleep 8, 9, or 10 hours straight without a problem.
Clue two: In addition to severe energy crashes, I've been having almost litteral vehicle crashes. I've never in my life fallen asleep behind the wheel, even when pulling all night long distance treks. But, lately, I've felt half drunk just driving home from work in mid-afternoon, and require Mountain Dew and loud music just to make it through the 25 minute drive. Then, when I should be wired from caffiene and mountain goats, I stagger into the house and fall asleep instantly.
Clue three: My damn word counts. I kept records of my progress on my last three books. I'm definitely writing slower than I used to. The word gears just aren't turning as fast.
So, I finally wised up and went to a doctor. It didn't take him long to suspect that my self-diagnosis based on googling my symptoms was worth looking into. He ordered some blood tests and discovered I had a rather severe case of hypothyroidism. Basically, my thyroid gland has shut down (we don't know why). No thyroid hormones equals no energy.
Fortunately, I started medication to replace the missing thyroid hormone this week. The medication has to be ramped up slowly, so it may be a few weeks before I'm back up to speed. But, I did manage to drive home today without a hint of drowsiness, which is a good sign, since yesterday I fell asleep in the car at 2 in the afternoon while Cheryl was driving us across town to a shoe store.
It will be interesting to see if my word counts increase moving forward. The biggest stumbling block is that the last chapters of a book always take me the longest time to craft, because they typically involve matching up the most difficult bits of the plot puzzle. Usually, I can blast through beginnings because every thing is a blank slate. If stuff doesn't make sense, I can just move on and figure it out later. But, with the end of the book, later is now. All the plot threads I've been pushing forward, not quite sure where they are going... I've got to start tying them all together.
Luckily, even if my brain remains slow for a week or two, there are some advantages to the fact that this is the 10th novel I've written, and experience does matter. I just got a better feel for pacing and revelations than I did when I first started learning this craft. I feel confident I can steer this great ship of words in to a safe landing.
Welcome to my worlds!
I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!