I'll never say that writing fiction is more difficult an art form than any other - because it's not - it's simply art. That quality alone makes it a long, mentally straining, lonely process.
Creating a scene, a city, a bustling metropolis filled with people each living their own lives, even if they have nothing to do with the story, is a relatively simple task. I won't discuss the craft of it, because it's boring even to me (if you are Wanting a discussion about the Craft of writing, keep an eye on the site over the course of the coming months). With that said, building the surrounding area you were able to see in Chef was a simple matter, one fitting with where I was as a writer when I was writing it. With Fowl Play, however, I am not only building a bustling community, I am creating a larger city, a religion, cultural and language quirks and patterns, and even filtering out the harsh truth of how the animals I'm writing about actually exist in the wild (did you know that most sex between ducks is rape?) into a more reader-friendly representation of the world that also goes along with the story I want to tell. It's a little more difficult than the world of Chef.
As far as the difficulty in the building of this piece, it has always been something I have expected, and known would be a part of the process. There have been more than a few nights I have run across something I hadn't thought of, about their culture or religious practices, or even what happened after the events of this book, that I had to process and think of so I could proceed in talking about them. And after I stared at my computer screen for a few hours I realized that the decisions I'd made required me to go back over the story and - at times - completely rewrite scenes to account for the changes. Like a sculptor, chipping away what doesn't look like the statue he set out to sculpt.
What this has done is make a first draft much longer than Chef was (Fowl Play is going to be just about twice as long, which I'm really excited about), and a much more complex story. It has also created a much longer process for writing it, as so much of my work has been in rewriting. My last change, adding a character whose only purpose is to tell one of the main characters "No. Don't do this yet, wait a few days," has made it so that I have to go back and rewrite most of the second part. Don't get me wrong, it has made the book better to the point that I question the writer I was weeks ago that hadn't even thought about it, it's just increasing the time I anticipated working on this.
There are a whole lot of writers whose work I read that I can describe only as art. Jeff Suwak, Pat Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Peter V. Brett, Scott Lynch, Mark Lawrence... they're artists. They take a damned long time, some of them, to put a book together, but when they do it's magic. I used to take for granted the quality of their work, but now I am seeing it for what it is. My work isn't nearly on that level, I know, but that is my goal, bringing you something akin to their quality while still maintaining the me-ness you've come to expect.
My goal of having Fowl Play to my editor was for March fourth. I did not meet this goal. With the amount of work I've created for myself, I will be lucky to hit April fourth, but I am going to damned well try for it. By the end, though, it's going to be a piece of art I am proud of, and something I hope that makes you laugh, and breaks your heart a little, and that you treasure long after your first reading of it.
Because of the delay in getting it to my editor, I am also having to push the expected publication date back to (tentatively) August eighth.
In the meantime, there are a lot of phenomenal books from other authors to read (if you're stuck for something to read, the list of authors above can get you started). If you want to recommend some books for people, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Take it easy, my friends.