I hate this question. This question is one of the main reasons I kept my desire to write secret for so long. People want to be nice. They may actually be interested in how the story is progressing. They care. But this is a hard question to answer, at least, without going into specifics about the story itself. People also tend to ask it too often, and I feel somewhat guilty when I don’t have “enough” progress to report. Which is ridiculous. But no less true.
I got asked this question last week, and for the first time it didn’t stir those negative emotions. It was a genuine question from a fellow writer, and I actually appreciated that someone who understood cared enough to check in on me.
Backstory: I’ve mentioned before that I entered James Patterson’s 2017 co-author competition, and was selected as a semi-finalist. I’m also semi-active on the associated forum, which is filled with thousands of writers seeking feedback, offering resources, and just generally supporting one another. A lot of users requested that the semi-finalists post their submissions, so, when I learned that I was not chosen to move forward in the contest, I posted mine.
I got an overwhelmingly positive response, with a lot of users encouraging me to finish the book and swearing they would buy a copy when I published it. And for a while, that was my intention. It still is, maybe. I haven’t given it a whole lot of thought. I did work on it further, at the time. Another semi-finalist messaged me privately and suggested that we set a challenge for ourselves. The finalists had to submit completed outlines for review by a certain date in May. He suggested that we write our own outlines and meet the same deadline.
So, I started on the outline. The problem was, when I wrote the submission chapter, I had no concrete plans on what the rest of the story may contain. The outline was a struggle, and I eventually abandoned it. I wanted to get back to my current fantasy project, which is where my interest was anyway.
Then 10 days ago a user posted a comment on my submission chapter. “Jessica, I enjoyed reading your chapter. How’s the progress of your book coming along?”
I told her the truth, basically what I just told you, only in fewer sentences. But it made me think more about the question. She asked in genuine interest, and I discovered I actually appreciated the question.