3 years, 700K words: Anathema serial is complete.

First of all - Chris, can I get one of those nifty 'complete story' tags? Thanks! :D


So, I finally did it. A bit more than a week ago, I posted the epilogue for Anathema; the final entry to a web serial that took up 10-15 hours of my time every single week for two and a half years. Towards the end I was so burned out that I had to switch to monthly updates of 2 chapters each, and I had to rush the last chapter before the epilogue or else I might never have finished.


Looking back, I can say I have no regrets, and I'm super glad I wrote this serial. I was steadily in the top 10 / top 15 pretty much since the very beginning, got nearly 350K views to date, and - most importantly - I've grown SO MUCH as a writer over those past 3 years. To illustrate how much of a quantum leap this writing development was, check out the first draft of the first chapter I ever wrote for this story, then the final version of 3 years later:


First version from 2014: https://www.dropbox.com/s/h19dhntcx12zx0f/Radiant%20Intro%20May%202014.docx?dl=0

Final version 2017, post edits: https://www.dropbox.com/s/gaveo0jn42xl4hy/3.1%20Radiant%202017%20version.docx?dl=0


Some of you already know that English isn't my first language, which means that for me, writing is a SLOW process. I think I more or less succeeded in competing with native English speaking web serialists, but I'll never be able to write 800 words an hour. Not even 500. 350 is about my maximum, and often it's more like 250. When writer's block hits me, it hits me hard. It's not that I don't know what to write - the ideas tend to come to me when I need them, but sometimes I just don't know how to string those sentences together in a way that flows well for native speakers, and I have to google every other sentence to check if it's phrased well. I'm so jealous of you native speakers. I remember what it was like to write in German. It was so easy! And fun to boot! But I want to reach a large audience, which means that writing in German isn't an option. Plus by now I've probably forgotten how. XD


For that reason, I'm one of those authors who don't enjoy writing. It's really, really hard work all that time, but god, do I love having written. Over the years I've gotten so many amazing, insightful, often heartwarming comments from readers that I just couldn't quit, even though I wasn't making more than 10-15 bucks a month from Patreon.


Some thoughts and reflections...


I'm super glad I did this, but in the future I don't think I'll publish weekly serials chapter by chapter anymore. I've figured out that in my case, time to reflect and edit really improves the quality of my storytelling. If I write by the seat of my pants regardless of writer's block, sickness, or super busy weeks, the quality suffers. I want to write the best stories I'm capable of.

So in the future, I'm going to finish and edit entire novels before I serialize them. I've already gotten started on Gifted by Light, a standalone novel in the Anathema setting which follows the same timeline, but with a different cast of characters.


Here's the first paragraph for the new story:



There were weeks - a lot of weeks, actually - where I caught myself updating for the sake of updating. I didn't know where to take the story so I wrote a filler chapter just so I had something to post on Sunday. Sometimes I wrote several filler chapters in a row. Maybe some of you can relate. :)


For the first 1.5 - 2 years, I was really in love with this story and thought about it often even while doing unrelated things. I thought I could keep going forever because I was full of ideas, had a good amount of readers and loved getting all those awesome comments. I regret not planning to finish sooner. Because when story weariness set in, it made it that much harder to finish. So, here's my advice: don't plan to write millions of words even if right that moment, you think you can. Because that weariness will strike you eventually. I've been there. If I planned to finish sooner, I wouldn't have had to rush that last chapter before the epilogue so much.


Also, I think my autism really helped me out with this serial. I'm not sure a neurotypical person would be masochistic enough to do what I've done. I mean, I never even spent a year overseas or anything like that. Apart from what I learned in school, my English is 100% self taught.


And guess what, people who read the ebooks didn't believe they weren't written by a native speaker! The blog who selected Transition (the first Anathema ebook) as a semifinalist in Mark Lawrence's SPFBO competition said, I quote, 'the writing was SO SO SO GOOD'. I mean, wow. That's insane.


What really put a damper on my enthusiasm at times were comments from readers who stated they didn't vote for me on TWF because I was only updating once a week instead of 2-3 times. If readers expect me to invest 20-40 hours a week in a free web serial then I don't know what to say. Fortunately those kinds of comments were few and far between.


Congratulations! Way to go!


You are one of the hardest-working serialists it is my pleasure to know. We've talked at length about the business of writing, and I don't think I know anyone who has done as much research and put as much thought and care into the process of seeing a work through its workflow from idea all the way to marketing. Writing occupies a nice little cross-section of art and science, and I've noticed a lot of us (I daresay most of us) tend not to give the 'science' portion of it enough attention.


My heartfelt congratulations!


Congratulations, that's a huge accomplishments! I hope your success only keeps increasing with the next project!


Congratulations! Honestly, your writing is better than that of a lot of native English speakers who don't stop to think if their sentences are strung together properly.

Don't listen to the annoying twits who complain about update speed. They don't understand how much time and mental energy is required to write.

Good luck with your next project!


@Chrysalis I've updated your story status and tags.


If things were fair, we'd all be writing and reading in Esperanto. As it is, there is only one story on this site in Esperanto. I challenge anyone to find it lol


Congrats. Now time for the fanfiction....


congrats! Anathema is one of the ones that unfortunately fell on my backburner during Rss issues with feedly, but I will finish! It is an excellent story, and agreed on the writing. You write English better than most native speakers do.


@Walter, unice and Maddi - thanks! By the way, Maddi, how's things? Haven't heard from you in a while. :)


@Fiona woohoo! I'm a little sad I won't appear in the featured updates section anymore, but maybe my next serial makes it in there someday. :)


@Drew: I'm so going to book your ad space for the next book again. I might also potentially steal Kisa. I love my editor, but I'm afraid I can't afford her at the moment. :(


@Moonfeather What fanfic? Ooooh, you're reminding me... I've been meaning to write a Worm fanfic for ages! Maybe now I'll finally get around to it.


@Alexander finish while you can! I might take it offline when I get back into marketing in a few months. I'm afraid ebook readers might google for a continuation of the story and find the serial, which is in many ways inferior to the ebook version. :(


By the way, I just noticed the 'only completed novels' tab doesn't seem to be working anymore... it doesn't show any results. Is it me, or did something break? :(


Mad respect, Chrysalis! That sort of commitment is hard in English. Can't imagine doing it with a second language.


Congratz! That was a long haul ^^


En-Ding. Hmm. Feels like I used to know the word but it's lost all meaning for me...


Congrats on reaching this mythical place.


That is quite the feat! Congrats on your journey :)


Three years of hard work and dedication - and a very well-deserved 'congratulations' on all your success! :D


Want to add, I'm impressed that you kept the 2014 version. (Worried I was the only one to archive my early stuff.) You probably came further in 3 years there then I have in 10, which is doubly impressive given the language barrier. I am a bit curious, did you rewrite the post-edit version almost from scratch? There's similarities (like "You can't hurt yourself" / "You can't cut yourself") but it overall feels very different to me. (Don't feel all we native speakers are speed writers though, 400 words in an hour is about my limit too. And it's not my typing speed, I can type in real time when I do secretary work.)


At any rate, congrats, all the best with your new novel.


Thanks, Tartra! <3


@Mathtans - I actually didn't archive the 2014 version, I had to go and copy it from a private message on Myth Weavers, the play-by-post roleplaying forum where everything began. I found my very first readers there months before I even had the Wordpress site up; I know at least one of them kept following me all the way to the last update. Which is kind of awesome! I'm also pretty sure Myth Weavers is the reason Anathema shot up into the top 15 right from the beginning.


The final version of the chapter turned out quite different because I was working with an AMAZING developmental editor who made me change... a lot of stuff. Unfortunately she doesn't take large jobs anymore, but I learned soooo much from her. I can now spot flaws and inconsistencies (usually, ofc I still miss stuff) without anyone pointing them out for me. My first drafts today don't remotely compare to 2014.


Big, biggest congratulations, Chrysalis!

That is some impressive dedication there and I am glad you stuck to it, even through the idiot comments.


I somehow completely missed this when it first showed up here. Congratulations, Chrys. Now it's time to sit back, relax, and work on that Dragonball Z-style Space Opera where humanity is mysteriously uplifted with ki-powers in order to try and fight off an approaching alien invasion force.


Or maybe a nice novel about a demonic rock star fighting a plot by angels to destroy rock n'roll.


But enough about my spare thoughts, glad you were able to manage it, despite the burnout. It has been good to see you work and achieve success over the years.


@Chrysalis (answering a nearly week-old question) Things have been pretty wonderful, but also so very busy! I think I owe you an email, I should really get my butt in gear on that ^_^