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Building the buffer

The publishing work I planned for October rolled over into the first week (or so) of November, but all the episodes from books 1 to 6 are now ready to be published, and the publishing schedule is taken care of until August 17, 2021, at which point there’ll be 277 episodes on the site.

The work I’ve been doing on book 7 this month, means I have episodes already written for well into September 2021, which has me feeling pretty confident about the publishing schedule for the next few years — assuming all things are equal and nothing crazy happens to us all in the near future.

That’s a safe assumption after 2020, right? 😬

I’m finding having this buffer between writing and publishing incredibly reassuring. At my current production rate (I track episodes written per week), the projected number of episodes in the buffer will run out in a little under a decade (my story tracking app keeps track of this for me too). Which means I can keep an eye on production schedules, but mostly focus on new stories without worrying too much about deadlines or finding myself feeling like I just have to get the next chapter out.

If I were releasing these stories as novels instead of one chapter at a time, I likely wouldn’t even need to think about production schedules at all, but seeing those numbers on my dashboard every day means I’m less likely to skip a day here and there without good reason. I find improving my numbers incredibly motivating.

Work on book 7 is going well, but as that won’t even start publishing until August next year, I’ll wait until then to share thoughts about the story itself — though one of my favorite characters from The Bastard Cadre who’s been absent in Cogs until now, turned up unexpectedly, and she is kicking ass and getting herself in trouble in ways that only she can.

Just as with Zealots and Ascendants (Cogs 6), before I started writing this one, I didn’t know what the story would be about except in the broadest possible sense. I knew where Avril would be and what he’s up to, but none of the details.

Prior to starting writing, there’s a definite sense of what if I can’t think of anything, but so far, that hasn’t happened. Just starting with a character in a situation and a sense of where the arc fits into the larger story is enough. If I’d planned the story out ahead of time, I doubt that favorite character would have found a way in to this one.

Heading into the end of the year, I’m starting to think about what I want to achieve with these stories in 2021.

2020 has been a prick of a year for many people, and I have no reason to complain by almost any standard. My family is healthy, the place where I live is comparatively unaffected by the pandemic, and I’ve been able to continue at my day job without any major interruptions. All in all, I’m incredibly fortunate.

2020 was the year I wanted to launch Cogs, I had planned to publish the first episode on the first Monday of the year, but that didn’t happen. In fact, the story didn’t appear until the end of July, but it launched and it’s ticking along nicely.

In 2021, I plan to start sharing the stories with people who might enjoy them, without leaning to heavily into marketing. I have some ideas, but whatever I do in that space it will be slow and steady (much like the release of the story on the site) that I hope will build and have an impact over time.