That’s my word count so far. Work continues; slower perhaps than I had hoped, but I’m writing, and that’s a good thing.

For the last few months my biggest distraction has been the open-source Flash adventure game engine I’ve been developing, but I’m finally nearly done with it and ready to release it to the unwashed masses of the Internet. Why create an open-source adventure engine? Why not? I’m often seized by these pointless diversions, but lately I’ve stopped really fighting them. I figure if I’m passionate about something I should just do it. At least I’ll have some kind of product to show for it, and honestly, it’s a rare privilege to actually enjoy putting a lot of time into a project. No sense wasting passion.

Plus, it’s been a great learning experience, both in terms of the nitty-gritty Actionscript programming and the more high-level concepts of video game design. I’m hoping to make use of this engine to create a full-on adventure game with a complete story and challenging puzzles, but that will have to wait until I have a complete draft of Hubris. I’m not completely without priorities.

Speaking of priorities, I’ve decided to get back into serious querying for The Northerners. I spoke with friend and fellow novelist Dana Kaye recently and she brushed off my 43 rejections as “barely scratching the surface.” It made me realize that yes, there are still a ton of agents out there, and yes, it’s worth keeping up the campaign. She’s already suggested a few more agents to try, and I’m dusting off my query letter for another round.

This is good because it makes me feel less rushed to complete Hubris. I think on some level I was ready to give up on The Northerners and just wanted another novel finished so that I could start querying from scratch. I had this idea that Hubris, being urban fantasy with an easy-to-explain conceit, would be an easier sell. It may well be, but I’m realizing that this is not a really good attitude to have. A sense of hurry is not healthy for an unpublished author. Getting published is a process that takes a lot of patience, and as patient as I thought I was when I started this process, I have a long way yet to go.

If I really want to get published, I need to make sure my novels are as strong and well-revised as I can possibly make them. And they won’t get that way if all I can think about is some arbitrary self-imposed deadline. Moreover, this isn’t just about getting published; I’m writing because I want to tell the best story that I can. Better I take more time to finish something that gives me a real sense of fulfillment and satisfaction than I struggle mightily to slip something mediocre into print.

That’s what I love about novel writing: unlike a screenplay, when I finish writing, I have a final product in my hands. It’s ready for anyone to read and get the full experience of what I’ve created. Getting published is great validation, and the opportunity to make money doesn’t hurt, but it’s not the real heart of the process.

That said, I do really, really want to get published. Back to that query letter.