If you’ve been following Fantasy Author’s Handbook for the past few months, you’ve heard me talk about my love/hate relationship with my current work-in-progress, the Fathomless Abyss novella Devils of the Endless Deep. I started with a report on my progress then ended up with a deeper examination of depression and writer’s block. The former post started with this question:

“Coming in February?”

Well, obviously not.

I missed that, it turns out by four months, which is way too long for a novella that probably won’t top out at more than 30,000 words.

But it’s not really the length that was the problem. I won’t belabor the whole writer’s block thing again, or pile on excuses from my professional or personal life. Actually, I’m doing really well, working my butt off, bringing in new consulting clients, paying the bills, engaging in a wide variety of interesting work that’s much more fun than stressful. The family is happy and healthy, and even the weather has been cooperating. Yesterday’s rain aside it’s been unseasonably warm and sunny up here in the Pacific Northwest, wiping out a gloomy winter’s worth of seasonal affective disorder.

And here’s something else to be happy about:

I finished the damn thing.

I finished a first revision pass of Devils of the Endless Deep on May 15 and promptly sent it off to two of my fellow Fathomless Abyssals, Mel Odom (who’s become my partner in crime and trusted first reader) and J.M. McDermott, becuase his own novella (which I’m currently taking a second edit pass through and it’s phenomenal!) shares a corner of the setting with mine. If all goes well, they’ll have their notes back to me next week and I’ll dig in again. While doing the second read of J.M. McDermott’s novella I’ve been keeping a list of notes of things to add based on his take on the village of Smogland and life among the Tabagie. It also occurred to me that something should be done with that gun at the end—no spoilers, you’ll see!

Oh, holy crap, what a relief it is to be done.

But it’s much more a relief to know that not only is it done, but I like it. No, actually, I love it. That can sometimes be a bad sign, though, since it’s harder to see flaws in your own work if you’re convinced it’s awesome. That’s where Mel and Joe come in.

And this is where I recommend, for the umpteenth time, that you have trusted readers in your life, too. Work as hard finding and nurturing these people as you do on the rest of your writing. They’re that important.

In the case of a group project like the Fathomless Abyss, those first readers are conveniently built in. When I get the notes back from the first two and have had a chance to do a full revision, I’ll share the manuscript with the rest of the collective, too. Once I’ve had a chance to react to their comments, I’ll get some final formatting stuff done, and get this thing up for sale for both the Kindle and Nook. I missed February, but have a very good chance of getting this one out in June.

And I already have another project that I will be starting on today—more on that when it’s safe to talk about. I’m busy now, people. Too busy for depression and writer’s block and laziness.

Or really long blog posts.

I hope you’ll join me once again in the Fathomless Abyss next month (okay, early July at the latest!), but in the meantime, if you haven’t read Tales From The Fathomless Abyss, shame on you, but you can easily rectify that sorry situation by buying the Kindle or Nook edition and starting to read.

And if you’re still struggling with writer’s block, like I did with this one, keep your chin up. This too shall pass.


—Philip Athans


About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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  1. Alyse says:

    Can’t wait!!!! 🙂

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