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I suck at New Year Resolutions

Some of you may have been wondering why I've been doing so little blogging lately ...

Well, it's because I've been so busy I managed to exhaust myself. I took a six day vacation in Germany last week, and came back more tired than when I set off. I have to face facts: I am not going to finish the final submission draft of "The Rhesus Chart" (Laundry Files #5) in 2012.

So I'm unilaterally granting myself a two week extension, and now expect to hand it in in mid-January. (My agent and editors see no problem with this, seeing I was 6 months ahead of the contractual schedule anyway ...)

This has been my busiest (writing) work year since 2003. And it started with a New Year's Resolution to henceforth only write one novel a year. After a decade of pushing out an average of two books a year (despite "Halting State" and "Rule 34" taking 15 and 18 months respectively) I felt entitled to it. I mean, I'm officially middle-aged, dammit.

But you know what happens when plans make hard contact with reality, right? Right. This year I:

* Checked the copy-edits and page proofs of "The Rapture of the Nerds"
* Wrote the final 60% of "Neptune's Brood" (around 65,000 words)
* Wrote the first draft of "The Rhesus Chart" (around 116,000 words)
* Re-drafted/edited all six Merchant Princes novels for republication in the UK in omnibus editions (making over 11,000 changes in the process)
* Organized getting someone else to check page proofs of the MP omnibuses (I'm not suicidal: editing/proofreading an 1800 page story twice in six months would be crazy)
* Checked the copy-edits of "Neptune's Brood"

By my reckoning, I think I checked one set of page proofs and eight novel-length edits—which is about as much work as writing an extra novel. (To put it in perspective, the MP edits took me around 8 weeks of wall-clock time, working 6 or 7 days a week, for rather more hours than I'd usually be able to put in if I was writing fresh copy.)

So I can reasonably say that 2012 was the equivalent of a two-and-a-half or even a three book year for me. And I am so tired I am taking the rest of the year off work.

But I can't renew that hazardous New Year's Resolution, because I really can't gear down to just one book a year. Because I just signed a contract for a trilogy, delivery due in 18 months.

Which is why I am lying flat on my back, panting, and leaving the heavy lifting to Stina for a bit.

Happy Newtonmass! Happy Hogmanay!

54 Comments

1:

May I be the first (or thereby) to say "thank you", from the depths of my brain, the bottom of my heart, and corners of my wallet where even the moths fear to tread! :-D

2:

Would I be right in thinking that you have had the general outline of the new trilogy simmering at the back of your brain for a while now?

And oh, now you've done the MP rework/copyedit, the proportion of new work in the future should be a bit higher.

OTOH, I can see you having real problems trying to keep the follow-up to Rhesus Chart from bursting out early.

3:

I've been thinking about doing this one for about 4 years. It has been stuck in negotiating limbo, and a bit of burn-out on my part, for all that time. During the redrafting process this year I found I'd finally un-burned-out on the MP series and could contemplate writing more without fear and loathing ensuing. And we now have a chance to reboot sales and get it moving again. So ...

Yes, the follow-up to TRC wants to be let out early. Tough. It's going to have to stand in line behind whatever the trilogy gets called.

(The contract says "UNTITLED MERCHANT PRINCES: THE NEXT GENERATION BOOKS 1-3" but it's not going to stay that way.)

4:

Hmmm, I'm starting to think an organised association of Charlie Stross fans will be necessary.
At the push of a button we will break into your flat and kidnap you, if necessary locking you away from a word processor for as long as it takes for you to have a rest.
Or maybe your agent needs to consider your long term health and say "No more trilogies in 18 months {Unless they are 120 page childrens books}")

Anyway, happy December holiday to you, your wife and your cats.

5:

Thanks Charlie, for all your hard work. Enjoy your time off. Next time you're in New York or anywhere in the northeast, beers are on me. Count on it!

Dan

6:

Charlie thank you for all your amazing work! I continue to evangelize your writing to my literate technical freinds and they always come back awed by what they have read from you! Happy Holidays and looking forward to reading lots more of you (and maybe catching another Pint with you!) in the New Year!

7:

So you're finally getting around to writing book 2 of the MP series?

8:

If you want to share, what are you planning to do for rejuvenation? How are you recharging yourself mentally for the writing projects ahead? Is there a routine, or a set of techniques, or do you just wing it and try something new every time? Or do you just not want to analyze it because it works, whatever it is?

Also, no need to make a new year's resolution, the world is ending on Friday.

9:

I'm sure we'd all rather you write a potboiler than have a [insert acute result of overwork, not named for apotropaic purposes] here. That said, I know the writing demon doesn't much care about its carrier, kinda like a Hiver . . . it just wants to get written.

So I'll say to the writing demon, "Writing demon, don't eat the poor human." :D

10:

and I don't mean the species in Traveller, for clarification, I mean the thing in A Hat Full of Sky

11:

You just need some Fine Drugs - I'm about to start a course of Piracetam to see what effect it has on me.

12:

Yayayayayayayay! More books! Rest as much as you can.

13:

Be prepared to have no alcohol tolerance whatsoever - that one took me by surprise.

14:

Interesting as I don't have much of a tolerance anyway. I drink very little alcohol so that when I have the occasional absinthe it really hits me like a powerful drug. Anyway, I'll be careful on that front.
Overall, did you find taking Piracetam worthwhile?

15:

But that means you'll have to do more blogging here.
Not that we'd object.

and New Years Resolutions? Feh!

16:

Quick notes:
- I found it incredibly synergistic with MDMA the one time I tried B while on A. The next two months were the most creative time of my life.
- It halved my (bloody low for an Irish person anyway) alcohol tolerance, though the big problem was when I went off Piracetam, the tolerance came back unexpectedly.

It wasn't worth the expense for what I was doing with it, so I quit (mostly mindless code-monkeying; caffeine is a more useful nootropic currently - I need wakefulness more than intelligence) and I have no evidence of any gain. But I still have a pack or two stored up "for when I go back on it," so I'm not discouraging anyone. (",)

17:

I use Modafinil occasionally, but that only provides a slight mood elevation and memory boost - barely noticeable. OTOH it does work well to keep me awake and alert (as long as I do not take it while feeling tired).
BTW, what dose of Piracetam did you take? I'm aiming for something quite modest eg 1600mg per day. Also, the price seems reasonable at around 20p per day

18:

Remember that whatever your planned maintenance dose, budget double that for the first three weeks/month for attack dosing.

I attack dosed at some hilarious rate - either 4 or 6 grams a day, I can't remember (this was a good three years ago, and one of the reasons I was taking it was for memory...) and then dropped to 2g a day, which I could afford because I bought a kilo of bulk powder and capped my own doses. When that ran low I started buying Pramiracetam and taking one a day. The folk wisdom is pramiracetam is 6-8 times stronger than piracetam, so I figured I was on roughly a 3g-day-equivalent regime.

19:

Para 1 - Seconded on both clauses.

Para 2 - The only NYR I've ever managed to make stick was one I made 30 years ago. to not make any more NYRs!! ;)

20:

Or just make really easy NYRs

21:

Happy Hogmanay to you Feorag, Shouty Cat and The Elder God.

Do make sure you get some real rest. Letting Stina blog for you is a good idea. Don't let your fans push into writing - ANYTHING - before you're rested.

22:

Suggest alternating long invigorating walks with feet-up-by-the-fire-+-festive-beverage.

well done man, thanks

23:

Congratulations on the contract & happy Newtonmass to all.

I express unreserved joy at the prospect of more of your work, and some fear for your sanity.

24:

Oh yeah, nearly forgot:
"Reasons Greetings To All!"

25:

Charlie:

A, I thank you from the bottom of my spleen.

B, Ran into some people who alleged they drink at the same pubs you do, hanging around LISA conference last week in San Diego. One was wearing a Laundry Files tshirt. They said they worked at the university there. I approve!

26:

Having read that, I now feel like a lazy bum. Thanks, man. ;-)

Enjoy your rest.

27:

Get your rest in, and I hope your foot is up for long walks soon, so you can have enjoy some aimless ambulation to go with your cogitation.

28:

That's some dangerous stuff you guys are playing with. By which I mean your messing around with your brains. Nothing so trivial as using steroids to bulk up your muscles. And - here my provincialism is showing - isn't that stuff mildly illegal? I know you can buy it online, but how do you avoid being ripped off? For that matter, how can you tell if you're being ripped off or not?

Me, I'll stick to the nootropics that God intended for us to use - caffeine and alcohol :-)

29:

Glad to hear you're getting some rest, Charlie, your continued health is far more important to us than a few weeks cut off an 18 month schedule. Take your time, be kind to your wrists, and we'll celebrate each book as it comes.

30:

So why did you commit to delivering a trilogy in 18 months? Was there pressure from the publisher to meet a very short deadline? But don't most publishers shy away from releasing more than single book by an author in a given year, though? Or did you just say: "What the heck! I want to try to write a trilogy in 18 months!" For a person who otherwise seems quite rational, this seems to be just a bit rash. Not that I'm complaining. I enjoyed your MP books immensely. But I much rather you take your time, rather than doing yourself an injury...

31:

Charlie:

Thanks for the wonderful novels-- just read the latest Laundry Files... awesome. Great read, fun and thought-provoking as always.

(And, a shout-out for the Glasshouse, one of the best books I have read in a long, long time, and I've read a whole bunch of books. Doesn't seem like anyone every talks about it, though, when they talk about what you've written).

Happy and Merry Festivus and New Year to you and your wife and loved ones.

Best,

Dan
Atlanta, GA (which doesn't suck, contrary to meta-Western-urban-world belief)

32:

Rght
I might buy the revised MP brit-published novels & sell my existing copies on....
The follow-ups could be very interesting as this as a parallel-workds universe.
Am I imagining things, or is this the zeitgesit/trope of the moment?
Quite a few peolpe seem to be doing it.

In the meantime, Mrrrowl to/from the cat(s) & Feorag, & don't drink TOO much....

33:

I committed to delivering it in 18 months. That doesn't mean they'll publish it in 18 months, 12 months after delivery. (The publication schedule is not yet determined.)

It's actually a single story, 300,000 words long, with two dotted lines marked "cut here". So think of it as a single rather long novel with a couple of internal cliff-hangers. That's rather easier to write than three separate novels with separate settings.

34:

Both Piracetam and (probably) Modafinil have neuroprotective effects. The LD50 of Piracetam has never been determined because nobody can get an animal (or person) to eat enough of it. No reported overdose or reaction with other dugs. Medically, it has been given in does up to 100g per day.
Modafinil is more conventional with an LD50 around 1g/kg ie around 1000x an effective dose. Major side effects are extremely rare.
Legality - Modafinil legal to buy and possess but not sell. AFAIK no restrictions on Piracetam. Supplies - you have to find a reputable supplier by word of mouth and stick with them. Both drugs are dirt cheap to make so there's little incentive to sell fakes.

35:

BTW, LD50 of Modafinil is higher than caffeine

36:

Good luck with the schedule, Charlie! Happy [insert humorous pre-Christian holiday name here] season! And always remember rule #1!

37:

(About Hivers)

and I don't mean the species in Traveller

Now I began thinking that where is the Hiver that manipulates our host to write as much as he does...

Though it might also be the covert Vilani agents.

Charlie, I can see why you are exhausted, that sounds like a lot of work. I have been hoping for more dimension-hopping, so you made me happy.

Thank you for your writing, both here and in books.

38:

Rule #1 - Do not talk about "Fight Club"? ;-)

39:

I've often been curious as to what rules 2 through 33 are.

40:

Rule 17 is: "Shut up, Chris!"

I've had to use it when on SF convention committees. It's very useful.

41:
Because I just signed a contract for a trilogy, delivery due in 18 months

Average it out and take 18 months off afterwards? ;-)

42:

Congrats on the last novel, and good luck on the next novels.

You might be getting to the point where a part-time typist/dogsbody makes sense, if the economics make sense.

43:

I've seen several versions, but try here.

44:

Since I'm not on twitter, I'll comment here--totally out of context--on this from @cstross:

if you're at The Hoose tomorrow I'll show you what I'm using.

That sounds dirty.

45:

Charlie, you will probably not remember this, but when you were in SF a couple years ago, and we all went to the pub and drank together, my husband asked you about the MP series and what you would to do plot-wise to continue the story. At the time, it was mothballed, and you did tell us, to our delight. My question is, are you still going to do what you said you wanted to do?

46:

Very probably, yes. The notional first line -- it might not make it into the book -- is "fifteen years later ..." and I still plan on using the viewpoint protagonist I was talking about in SF.

My publishers want this series to be an entry point for new readers; having a new protagonist who can get sucked into this universe serves that end quite neatly. Meanwhile, many of the characters from the previous books will still be alive, albeit older and greyer.

47:

You did a very good job at the time of not getting our hopes up, which makes it all the sweeter now. Thank you, and take good care of yourself. No, seriously. You keep messing up that bit. Selfishly, of course, I want you around for a long time, but more importantly, I'm pretty grateful for your existence and I'd like you to be happy and healthy.

48:

So, may we ask what's your expectation as to what will be published when?

(Yeah, yeah, I know, this is all about us rather than about sympathising with you over having agreed to take on too much work, but that's us, selfish all over.)

49:

My head hurts when I try to summarize the schedule!

UK schedule:

April 2013: "The Bloodline Feud" (Merchant Princes omnibus #1, containing "The Family Trade" and "The Hidden Family", remastered)

May 2013: "The Traders War" (Merchant Princes omnibus #2, containing "The Clan Corporate" and "The Merchants War", remastered)

June 2013: "The Revolution Trade" (Merchant Princes omnibus #3, containing "The Revolution Business" and "The Trade of Queens", remastered)

July 2013: "Neptune's Brood"

Late 2013: "The Rapture of the Nerds" (with Cory Doctorow)

July 2014: "The Rhesus Chart"

Q4/2014-Q2/2015: Untitled MERCHANT PRINCES: THE NEXT GENERATION #1

... the crystal ball stares into a fog bank.

US schedule:

July 2013: "Neptune's Brood"

??? 2014: Possible launch of MP Omnibus editions

July 2014: "The Rhesus Chart"

Q4/2014-Q2/2015: Untitled MERCHANT PRINCES: THE NEXT GENERATION #1

... the crystal ball stares into a fog bank.

TL:DR; in 2013, the UK gets FIVE Stross titles, comprising EIGHT novels, although all but one were previously published in the USA.

In mid 2014, there is a new Laundry novel.

In very late 2014 or, more likely, 2015, the US and UK get the start of a new Merchant Princes series (starting 15 years after the old one ended).

50:

Thanks; full version sent from my Mum's account to my normal machine.

51:

Down to the bookshop!

52:

Q

I don't have a copy of "Toast" except an on-line copied version.
Is/are there printed (you know a BOOK) versions available?

53:

Greg,
Wyrm Publishing in the US published a signed hardcover edition of Toast in 2010, which is still listed on their website. Amazon.com lists it, and a trade paperback edition from some years ago.

Enjoy!

Frank.

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