Back on October 22, 2002, I caved into the request of Comicality and tried my hand at telling a story that was bugging me as a constant dream. I had no idea just what this entailed, and really only planned to write a couple of chapters to say I did it. Fast forward to today, December 31, 2019. Not only is that the same story still running, but I have side stories that run with it, and have had the honor of working with some awesome authors who thought my idea could use the additional support of their own ideas.
A recent email chastised me for not spending all of my free time writing. This was brought on after I decided to share some of the resources that I used prior to releasing the chapter that they were used to write. I released them so the reader could see what I was seeing, and I developed them to ensure I could maintain continuity in the future.
Since that slow start back in 2002, I have written around one and a half million words, and over 145 chapters. There are well over 800 characters that I am either directly or indirectly responsible for creating or developing. I have spent time writing after working a 12 hour day just because I had an idea come to me of where to go next, and in the past year, I managed to still put words down while in the middle of moving with no help.
Once a project has reached the proportions of Memories and the stories surrounding it, continuity becomes a very real concern. You can't just count on notes, sometimes you have to go back and re-read what you've written before to ensure things are right. It takes less time to draw a house once than it does to continually have to go back and look up which side of the stairs a bedroom is on. It takes less time to develop a graphical family tree and then update it than it does to have to search for family members. Every single character in my stories is there for a reason, even if I do not make that reason obvious for ten or twenty chapters; part of the glue that holds everything together is getting those characters right.
I am proud of the detail and continuity that the CSU authors as a group have managed while creating a universe that is staggering in its proportions. To be told that a tool that I shared for the benefit of the readers is "cute" but that I really should be writing instead is an insult at so many levels that I really can't describe it. I could easily crank out less detailed chapters at a frantic pace; my recent Thanksgiving and New Years' stories were both written in a matter of hours. I will NOT do that with any of my CSU stories; I have over 17 years invested in this project, and no matter what anyone says, I will NOT reduce their quality just to meet some random deadline. I don't release the chapter unless I am happy with it, if that means re-writing a scene ten times, then so be it.
The next time you think a serial author is screwing off, think back to what was said here. It takes a LOT of dedication and control to pull off a believable serial story, and in the background, there is a lot more necessary to do than just toss words on paper. Sometimes it is just a web search, sometimes it means developing a supporting document to put their vision into something they can refer to put the words on paper, and sometimes it means a LOT of re-reading of stories to make sure that you remember things right. After all of that, the author re-reads the story to make sure it is right, and most also then have to wait for an also-unpaid editor to have time to go through it with a fine-toothed comb to catch the errors an author never sees himself.
Before I get off of my soapbox, I have one more thing to say... I have seen some great authors hang up their keyboards because of readers demanding they write faster or telling them how the story has to progress. Before hitting that 'SEND' button, really think about this: do you really want to be the one who is the last straw, the one who is the reason that an author leaves a story eternally unfinished? If the answer is yes, delete the email and never go back to the story; if the answer is no, then find a way to express your concerns in a positive way.