Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The T&T Autopsy

They can’t all be success stories. That’s basic statistics. So, with the last “Time & Tied” part put up a week ago, and the final Commentary posted today, here’s some outgoing perspective. Make of it what you will.



T&T was originally written from 2000-2009. It was dusted off in 2014 after three years of “personified math” was deemed a failure. Book 1, 80.5K words, Book 2, 78.2K words, Book 3, 74.1K words, Book 4, 76.8K words. It’s longer now, having been edited as I went, but whatever, all 96 parts are in separate files. 310,000 words is a good enough estimate, I likely cut words along with adding entire parts.

That doesn’t feel like any sort of accomplishment. As Alice would say (quoting Voyager’s Doctor) “You can’t help but have starships and holodecks and chicken soup, because it was all determined twenty billion years ago!” (or 8 years ago). I haven’t missed a weekly update in over two years, the website goes on because it must go on, I never start things I’m not going to see through. (Now, the drawing was new, and slowed me down, but pretty sure only one guy liked the drawings.)

T&T launched April 3, 2015, after over 6 months of “Epsilon”, right after doing my first “April Fool” over at Jim Z’s site. It went live in the Web Fiction Guide (WFG) system in mid-May, and got a 3.5 star review from Billy Higgins on May 20th. That was it. Otherwise, four months of total silence. My friend Scott did speak up on some of my Commentary posts (and has shared religiously, with thanks), and I let a spam comment through once, when I was lonely. In November 2015 (at Part 33), I had a week with 8 page views across the whole site. In 2016, after 11 months and 3 total comments (same person) across 47 posts, I just couldn’t for a bit.

T&T relaunched June 24, 2016 (Book 3), after taking three months off, the site having fallen back on “Epsilon” to keep the posting streak going. During that lapse, shoutout to Maddirose for a review, and J.A. Waters for RTs to this day after I wrote his “April Fool” post. And again a shoutout to Jim; in some fun parallelism, I wrote a guest post on his site not long after the relaunch. This time, a couple of his readers spoke up on my site (the backlogs probably helped keep them).

Shoutout to ChrysKelly, who became a commenting machine that August, going through the old Book 1 and writing another WFG review. Shoutout to LE Erickson for linking her site to mine (Jim did too), and to k-fish for a link and mentioning me in the RRL forums (and in her latest update).

Alas, November 2016 (at Part 70) was the site’s worst ever month for views that year, even lower than the initial T&T launch 20 months earlier. Despite a shift to twice weekly posts. Feedback from Tartra prompted making the menu page into the landing page and I guest posted at Stable’s site, but T&T was a hemorrhaging patient.

At least she didn’t die quietly. In February, T&T launched daily on RRL and picked up a random review. Comments by Mez in 2017 were in time to cause changes in later parts (which frankly had been the point all along). Tartra posted a review May 6th, Rev Fitz did a site analysis May 21st (and the earlier “April Fool”), and I guest posted at Drew’s site May 23rd. That last influx finally shattered the 150 page view ceiling on a single day. Over the last seven days, 14 people have read the final posts. One could say the funeral was well attended.

The only real sad part is that I’ve been on sabbatical from teaching for the last year. Writing has effectively been my full time job for the last 11 months. Guest posts, tweets, twitter chats, talking to another time travel serial writer, Facebook updates, Tuesday serial, forum short posts on WFG, commissioned art, NaNoWriMo forum, re-edits for RRL, new stab at Wattpad, business cards for coworkers and friends, time travel forum... well, there was a point I got 6 votes on Top Web Fiction. Hope may have died an early death with T&T (personified math came back), but I wrote 28 Commentary Asides over these two years which went into the posting and history of the story, if you want specifics.

What would have made T&T a win for me? That’s the key question. The chicken soup has existed since 2009. It wasn’t all silence, there are the reviews, and improving my writing does count for something (more than the drawing, apparently), but such learning also happens in failure. I still can’t market for beans.

I finally arbitrarily decided that, if I could maintain 10 plot votes on my latest “Epsilon” entry? That would mean people might stick with me for future writing. The elusive double digits, after 32 months, to signify progress, a tiny sign that a niche audience is finding me. I even posted the update to Discord along with everywhere else. So far? 5 people. No change from 2014.

Time & Tied, requiescat in pace.


At SOME point, it's gotta work...?

I hope this doesn’t come across as whining, it’s meant to be a clinical analysis, a shot of realism, possibly a way to benchmark your own stories. (But I am a cis white male, so I wonder about privilege.) Also, don’t get me wrong, my WP site will continue, because much like breathing, I update on a schedule. Have since 2011.

It’s worth noting, reviews helped in the short term, and I do appreciate everyone who pitched in along the way (hope I didn’t forget anyone). Maybe some day the T&T sequel ("Time Untied") will even be written? Maybe not. A couple people (including a belated comment from someone off Drew’s site) liked the premise, still, I need to start thinking about resuming full time work.

T&T can be marked “complete”. They can’t all be success stories. Make of that what you will.

I posted a slightly shorter version of this in the WFG forums, where for all I know there may be some discussion about further suggestions.

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