Blame Twitter

I've just finished my first week back at DataStax, and I wanted to share some thoughts with you.

I originally planned to release Seventy Six Falls last Fall. When it became clear that I was going to miss my deadline, I wrote a blog post letting you know it would be late.

I'm still hoping to release it by the end of April. I may have made that harder to accomplish by returning to DataStax. Perhaps I needed it to be harder.

If you know me at all, this will come as no surprise. I analyze the hell out of everything. When I decided to retire from technology, Eagle Cove was burning a hole in my brain. And even though I wrote the majority of the book like most authors do, during the nights and weekends while holding down a full-time job, I didn't feel like I could tell the rest of the story without retiring.

In my line of work, we spend a lot of time talking about root cause and conducting root cause analysis. I've spent the majority of my career on call in the technical emergency room we refer to as the war room.

When you find yourself sick or injured enough to go to the hospital emergency room, you want two things to happen upon entering. You want someone who can relieve your suffering to attend to you ASAP, and you want that person to take immediate action that will actually relieve your suffering. The more time she spends asking why you're suffering rather than relieving your suffering, the more frustrated you become.

But once you're no longer suffering, you too want answers. What caused this? Because now that you're out of the woods you're highly motivated to ensure it doesn't happen again. And it's at that moment someone with your discharge paperwork, which usually includes instructions to follow up with your primary care physician, sends you home. And you're terrified because no one told you why this happened and you'll have to wait for appointments and specialists and test results, all the while living with this ticking time bomb of impending suffering.

And, if you're lucky, eventually some doctor meets with you to deliver her root cause analysis. This happened to you because you've lived a life of bad habits and if you want to avoid it happening again in the near future, you need to change your habits. Sure I can prescribe some medicine to give you better odds. But the medicine can only do so much. It's up to you to do the rest.

And you get angry. Stage two in the journey to accepting bad news. And chances are pretty good that, though your doctor may have calmed you down, you leave her office angry.

In the analysis of my own suffering, I came to the conclusion that what I just described was my root cause, and retiring was my best course of action. And for the record, my experience confirms the decision.

So, why did I go back? Blame Twitter.

I won't bore you with the details of the tweet that sucked me back into technology. But here's the question that woke me up this morning. If I was truly ready to walk away from technology, why didn't I stop following DataStax on Twitter?

The answer is in the question. I wasn't finished yet. Terrifying though it may be to acknowledge, perhaps I never will be.

Writing is a completely different experience. And I LOVE writing. Even so, I have not been able to bring myself to make a habit of writing and complete Seventy Six Falls. And as an engineer trained to seek root cause, I can't let it go.

Recently, I accepted a challenge to write a flash fiction story. I sat down at my computer on Christmas Day and three hours later I had written 2000 words and a story that I was quite proud of.

 Proud enough, in fact, that I threw together a quick cover and released it on Amazon. And the exercise made me think. If I could so easily and quickly complete that writing challenge, why am I having such a hard time with Seventy Six Falls?

And again, the answer is in the question. Seventy Six Falls is not challenging me. Why? Because I don't outline, don't plot, don't write in order, and I've already written most of the juicy parts. What's left is the parts of the story that are critical to the story, but aren't as exciting to write. When I wrote Eagle Cove, I wrote more linear. I still didn't outline, and I wrote a little bit out of order, but not nearly so much as with Seventy Six Falls.

So, I'm going to deliver the bad news. Because I chose not to delay my gratification in writing the end of Seventy Six Falls, I've sabotaged myself completing the story.

And it's a great story. And I desperately want to finish it so I can release it. Especially, for those of you who read Eagle Cove and have been patiently waiting for the second installment. I'm pretty sure the prescription is simply to suck it up and write. I know from experience that the moment I sit down and open the manuscript and enter Thalia's world, I'm immediately happy.

So, I'm not giving up yet on my April release timeline. However, I've decided to go ahead and release the raw, unedited, first four chapters as a thank you for your abundant patience with me.

Enjoy!

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