This year was almost completely dominated by the writing of Oathbringer, Book Three of the Stormlight Archive. The first files I have for the book were Kaladin scenes, written in June 2014. But the book didn't really start in earnest until July 2015, when I wrote the Dalinar flashback sequence. (See State of the Sanderson 2015.) I had those done by October, but November was when I really dove into the novel.
I spent most of 2016 working on it, with only a few interruptions. It was an extremely productive year spent writing on something I'm very passionate about—but it was also a monochrome year, as I poured so much into Stormlight. There were far fewer side projects, and far fewer deviations, than the year before.
I've come to realize I can't do a Stormlight book every year, or even every two years. You can see that this one took around 18 months of dedicated writing time (though that does include some interruptions for edits and work on other things.) My process is such that, when I finish something like Stormlight, I need to move on for a while to refresh myself.
That said, Oathbringer is done as of last week! Here's a quick breakdown of the year.
A lot of this month was revisions. I decided to do something unusual for me, and revise each chunk of the book as I completed it, which let me get my editor working on his notes early in the year—rather than making him wait until this month, when the whole thing finished. That means I'll soon have a second draft of the book completed, though I only completed the first draft a little bit ago.
Also squeezed into January was a trip to Bad Robot, where I had a cool meeting with J.J. Abrams. (In conjunction with a video game my friends at ChAIR Entertainment are making—the Infinity Blade guys. I just gave a few pointers on the story; I'm not officially involved.)
February: Calamity Tour
I toured for Calamity, the last book of the Reckoners. The whole series is out now, so check it out! There is a nice hardcover boxed set of all three available in most bookstores, and it makes a great gift.
While on tour, I read from Stormlight 3, and some kind person recorded the reading for you all. Also, here's another version from FanX in SLC.
March: Trip to Dubai
I was invited to, and attended, the Emirates Festival in Dubai, then traveled south to Abu Dhabi to visit some friends. This was an extended trip, and I often find it difficult to work on a main project (like Stormlight) while traveling. I have too many interruptions. I can write something self-contained, but have more trouble with something very involved.
On this trip, I wrote a novella called Snapshot: a science Fiction detective story where people solve crimes using exact recreations of certain days in the past. It's a little Philip K. Dick, a little Se7en. This one's coming out in February, and will likely be my only release in 2017 other than Oathbringer (which will be in November). More details here.
I got back into the groove of writing, and did a big chunk of Oathbringer Part Two. If you missed the discussions on Reddit, here are my various updates there spanning about a year's time, talking about the book: One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.
I took a short break from Stormlight 3 to write…Stormlight 2.5, an extended story about Lift, with smaller appearances by Szeth and Nale. If you want to get your Stormlight fix before the release in 2017, you can find Edgedancer in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection. (There will eventually be a solo ebook release, but that's a number of years away, as required by my contract with Tor.) I also wrote essays and annotations for each world and/or story in the collection.
When I decided I wasn't going to kill myself (and my team) trying to get Oathbringer out in 2016, I committed to writing this novella to tide people over. I think you'll enjoy this one, unless you're one of the people that Lift drives crazy. In which case you'll probably still enjoy it, but also want to punch her in the face for being too awesome.
I finally got a good long chunk of time dedicated to Oathbringer.
I do love traveling, but it takes a big bite out of my writing time. So please don't get offended when I can't make it out to visit your city or country on tour. I try to do as much as I can, but I'm starting to worry that has been too much. Last year, for example, I was on the road 120 days for tours or conventions. This year was a little better, clocking in at about 90 days.
September: Alcatraz Release & Writing Excuses Cruise
Book Five of my middle grade series, Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, came out this month. (A long-awaited book.) You should read it.
The cruise was a fun time, but very unproductive for me. There is too much going on, and too much to organize, for me to get much writing done. I did finish one chapter of a potential novella on the single day of writing time I got. (The story, called "The Eyes," is a space opera inspired by Fermi's Paradox.)
I might do something with the chapter eventually, but for now I'm sending it in to be this month's Random Hat reward for the $10 patrons of Writing Excuses on Patreon.
As a warning to those planning on attending the cruise in 2017: we'll have a ton of awesome guest instructors, and it will be well worth your time and money. I, however, won't be attending. I'll be on the cruise other years in the future, but (like JordanCon, which I love) I can't promise to go every year. Once every two or three years is more likely. It's just a matter of trying to balance touring/teaching with writing.
By the way, JordanCon, FanX, and Dragon Con had some amazing costumes this year—but I'll save those for another post.
October: Europe Tour
Though I had a few good weeks of writing between the end of the cruise and the start of the Europe trip, I quickly lost steam again as I visited France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal on tour. I had an awesome time, signed a ton of books, and met many people in excellent costumes.
November: Arcanum Unbounded Release
Finally, I released Arcanum Unbounded: the Cosmere Collection. The tour for this was short, and I apologize for that, but…well, there's this writing thing I need to do sometimes…
December: Writing Excuses and Oathbringer
I got about half the episodes for next year's writing excuses season recorded at various locations, and then finally managed to type "THE END" for Oathbringer.
There's still a lot of work left on the book, but I'm confident we'll hit our November 2017 release date.