Blood Magic officially concluded on December 31st with the release of Balancing Act, Part Two, but I still owe you a reflection post about the series as a whole and what I learned in the process of writing its thirty-seven episodes (thirty-six normal episodes plus one bonus episode). Maybe I could have written it sooner, but I wanted both to leave sufficient time for you to finish the series, and for me to be appropriately removed that I can attain a semblance of objectivity. Enough time has now passed that I think we can look at some lessons learned from the effort, but consider this your spoiler warning if you haven’t yet finished reading the series.
When I made the decision to do the series, I had two episodes written, a rough map, and a frighteningly sparse outline for thirty-four more episodes. My writing time was severely limited, but I figured that if I was already two episodes ahead, I could manage to reasonably write six thousand words each month (which is how long I originally planned for most episodes to be). I knew going in that this would leave little time for revisions, but my goal wasn’t to create a magnificent piece of fiction; rather, it was to practice, to create artificial, public deadlines for myself that would force me to concentrate on a single story no matter how difficult the writing might get, and finish those stories through beginning, middle, and end.
Whatever else you might say about the series, the Blood Magic project met and exceeded my goals. I established that I can consistently write over ten thousand words each month, I practiced, repeatedly, solving storytelling problems through all three phases, and I learned a great deal about the process of creating stories and what works best for me. When I began, I didn’t really internalize that I was effectively setting myself up to write an entry-length novel every year for three years, but I’m glad that I didn’t, because I’ve learned that it is remarkably approachable to write that much, and the experience is already serving to guide how I schedule my writing for the actual novel I’m working on this year. Most valuable, though, is simply the amount of practice that I forced myself into with the undertaking.
Writing Blood Magic also gave me the confidence to start working on and submitting other projects. One of the most difficult things about writing is judging your own work in an objective fashion – some authors inevitably think their work is beyond reproach, while others insist that everything they write is terrible – so being able to see how my writing has evolved from the pilot episode to the conclusion of Balancing Act is quite educational. From the perspective of my progress as a writer, therefore, I have no regrets, which is not to say that the series is perfect. We haven’t talked at all about the stories themselves.
I’ve come to understand that the inevitable thing about writing is that I will always be able to write a story better after I’ve done more writing and gained more experience than I was when I first wrote it. It can be tempting, therefore, to put off a story because I don’t think I’m yet able to do it justice, but if I were to always do that, I would never write anything, and I would never improve. The trick, therefore, is in choosing the stories that you can do adequately at your current level so that eventually you can do the harder ones. If I were starting today, from scratch, I would change plenty about Blood Magic. There are entire episodes I might scrap and replace, I would drastically alter the timeline so that it isn’t so compressed, and I would provide more intentionality to the character arcs, and that doesn’t begin to touch upon the improved foreshadowing I could include, or the technical changes to the writing itself that would improve the reading experience. I call this the revision loop, and I think it’s important not to become entrapped by it, which is why I was so determined this past year to make sure that I finished the revisions for season three episodes before they went live.
Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t write Blood Magic purely for utilitarian purposes. It was genuinely a story I wanted to tell, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out in its final form. So, here’s to hoping that Blood Magic is just the beginning, and that the next thing I write will be an opportunity to take all that I’ve learned from writing Blood Magic, apply it, and learn even more, so that each story I write is better than the one that came before it. Thank you for joining me in the adventure. I hope that you enjoyed Blood Magic even more than I enjoyed writing it, and I hope that you’ll continue to find out what stories I have to tell in the future.
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