This is a hard post to write.
I suppose I should start with a clarification. Lance Eliot isn’t completely dead. He’s mostly dead. As the creepy old man from The Princess Bride reminds us, “There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.”
Long ago, I resolved to write and publish a novel. I wanted to be an author. It was my dream. For years, I worked on several versions of a story about a college student named Lance Eliot and his unexpected adventures in another world.
I sort of succeeded more than a year ago with the publication of The Trials of Lance Eliot, the first novel in a trilogy called The Eliot Papers. I had done it! I was a novelist! The first book was published, and all that was left was to finish its two sequels.
At the moment, I don’t think I can.
For nearly eight years, Lance Eliot’s story has been my greatest passion as a writer. I’ve invested so much in it. I want to have it finished. It hurts to abandon it.
All the same, I think the time has come for me to let it go.
To clarify: I don’t intend to abandon The Eliot Papers forever. I hope to finish the trilogy someday. It just won’t happen anytime soon.
Most of my readers probably don’t care, but I know a few have enjoyed The Trials of Lance Eliot and want to read its sequels. I owe those readers an explanation and an apology.
The apology is shorter, so I’ll start there.
I’m so sorry to keep you waiting.
If you’ve enjoyed The Trials of Lance Eliot and want to know the rest of Lance’s story, feel free to contact me with questions. I’m happy to share plot details with readers who want to know how Lance’s story ends.
As for the explanation: I think Hergé, the creator of The Adventures of Tintin, put it best: “Right now, my work makes me sick. Tintin is no longer me . . . If Tintin continues to live, it is through a sort of artificial respiration that I must constantly keep up and which is exhausting me.”
At this time, I feel the same about Lance Eliot as Hergé felt about Tintin. I love the character and his world and his story. I simply can’t keep them up. They’re exhausting me. What began as a dream has become a burden.
I have other reasons for setting aside The Eliot Papers. I have a job and a blog and many other commitments. I sometimes suffer from depression. At the best of times, writing fiction is hard. Working on a massive project like The Eliot Papers is exhausting and stressful. The addition burden of author stuff—updating a book blog, maintaining a Facebook page, gathering reviews and promoting my writing—is simply more than I can handle.
There is one final problem: The Trials of Lance Eliot hasn’t sold well. I regret to say the novel hasn’t even recouped the money its publisher invested in its publication. This is mostly my fault; I should have been much more active in promoting the book. All the same, it’s definitely a deterrent from investing endless time and effort in sequels.
In the end, I was left with two options. I could, in addition to many other commitments, keep working on The Eliot Papers: an exhausting, discouraging project without much chance of success. My other option was to let it go.
After much coffee and even more careful, prayerful consideration, I’ve chosen the second option.
My publisher has graciously accepted my decision. I’ve already deleted the book’s blog and my Goodreads author page. My Facebook author page is in the process of being deleted, and I’ve made many tweaks to this blog to eliminate inconsistencies and links to sites that no longer exist.
My decision to let go of The Eliot Papers has left me sad and discouraged. It’s hard to see a dream die. At the same time, I feel free. My life has become simpler. I can work on other projects, and I can spend free time reading and gaming without feeling guilty. That vague, constant burden of anxiety is gone. I can be a writer again without being an author.
Lance Eliot’s story has been quite a journey for us both. Working on The Eliot Papers taught me pretty much everything I know about writing. It was exciting, challenging, fulfilling and fun. In spite of its discouragements and failures, I thank God for The Eliot Papers. It was definitely an adventure.
Lance Eliot isn’t all dead, and I hope he returns someday.
For now, though, I have my own life to live.