In hindsight, I should have posted something like this earlier. But I doubt I could have compiled such a comprehensive list if I did. It took a long time to organize all of this in my head.
However several comments I’ve received recently made me realize that this topic has never truly gone away. Instead of some out-of-place comment in one of the chapters where I feel uncomfortable expanding upon the topic, I’d much rather talk about it in a dedicated post.
First, let’s be frank at this point: Daybreak is more or less dropped. Maybe one day I’ll decide to write a bonus chapter out of nostalgia, but the chances of the main plot continuing is slim at best. I’m not a professional writer, and as a hobbyist I can only dedicate so much time to it. I’ve learned that trying to tackle more than one story at a time stretches myself far too thin, to the point where it hurts my actual career; this happened in 2018 and gave me a major burnout that, to be honest, I didn’t fully recover from until late last year (2019). I’ve also learned since that I really don’t have the temperament to be a professional writer– I lose way too much sleep over what other people think of my stories. So, after many hard lessons, I decided that sticking to one story and not spreading myself too thin really is the best approach. And what that ‘one story’ is will be decided by me, not what others want: because it’s my free time and hobby, because I need to enjoy my time spent and actually relieve day-to-day stress, not build it.
So why not Daybreak then? Well, I’ve written about it here and there, but here’s a more comprehensive list. I’ve compiled it here so I can point to it whenever someone asks me again. I must also highlight that none of these items, individually, would have made me drop Daybreak. But combined together? It gives me a writer’s block every time I lift the proverbial pen, despite the fact I’m still emotionally attached.
- It was becoming far too stressful: Daybreak Volume 3 gave me a really difficult time, and it tested the friendships that I’ve developed with several of my long-time beta-readers– especially Kadi, who has been a huge support to me for the last decade (we’ve known each other since our translator days). Today, every time I think back to the middle of volume 3 when I was depressed, stressed out, and on the verge of ruining long-time friendships because I couldn’t get over some disagreements in writing, I think: why? was it worth all that? Because some the underlying issues have never been resolved, and I’m not keen to face it again.
- Lack of planning: The biggest problem is Daybreak was simply never designed to be written as a long series. I never established a cast based on long-term needs, and the more I write, the more I find myself forced to address this massive flaw. To build a new conflict I must establish multiple new characters, not just antagonists but other support characters to play out their roles. And many of these roles aren’t periphery but front and center, where they hold far more importance than even long-time characters from previous volumes. This dilution of scenes over character development and priorities was giving me a massive headache: I wanted to keep working with the support cast I have, to give them ‘screen time’ and not just to new characters, but I couldn’t afford to slowly work newer characters in due to the important roles they hold. This overstretch of ‘screentime’ was destroying the pacing and really hurting me, bad. Whenever I think about my Volume 4 plans, I realize that it runs into the exact same problems to which I had no solution. In hindsight, I should have used the opportunity at end of Volume 2 to kill several characters off, despite my personal attachment. Because this issue has become that task you don’t want to start because you know from experience you’ll hate it — and as mentioned in previous point, I don’t want to go through the same experience again. This is one of the biggest lessons I took to heart when starting a new story, which I’ve discovered… well, long-term planning from the very start has its own problems.
- It still hurts: I’ve never written about it in detail and likely never will (too personal), but the drama between me and Hachi (the artist for Daybreak) which made us break off all contact really hurt me, and still does whenever I think about it. When you grow to like someone so much and then have your heart so utterly broken, it tends to leave scars. Those scars resurface whenever I look at Daybreak.
- The next step: There’s no way around it: I have no idea how I’d write Daybreak Volume 4. I know exactly what’s the ending I want, down to exact scenes and dialogues in exchange (the final chapter between Pascal, Kaede, and Sylv), but I’m unsure how to get there. I don’t like the plans I once made. I could make new plans but I’m rather stuck facing the same issues, which results in similarly problematic plans that I don’t want to execute. Considering this is a hobby and not a job… why am I bashing my head against a wall when I shouldn’t have to?
- My tastes have changed: I’ve written about this topic before, but honestly my own tastes have changed since I first began Daybreak. I’ve more or less stopped consuming anime and light novels altogether due to my views on Japanese pop-media trends. But… that doesn’t actually affect much since my writing always reflected my non-fiction interests more than my fictional ones. Except there have been massive shifts even there. I’ve stopped focusing on history as the centerpiece of my reading and instead switched more into geopolitics and cultural analysis. I’ve started taking many topics far more seriously than before– for example the more I read about cultural attitudes, the more I realize I’m doing a poor job in Daybreak (some reviewer once pointed out Kaede doesn’t feel Russian, and in hindsight they’re correct). When I look at Daybreak today I cannot take some of its early moment seriously. I’m not ashamed of it –in fact quite the opposite– but nevertheless I often have the same feeling as one would towards their younger days: oh how foolish and simple my views were back then!
- The genderbender problem: I actually wrote a whole post on this, and then decided not to publish it because I was dissatisfied with it. But the gist of it comes down to: Daybreak is a ‘hard’ genderbender, where Kaede, due to her background of having personally changed genders, has no choice but to reflect upon it whenever a new situation pops up where there is a significant difference in perspective caused by her gender. As someone who wants to write about gender issues seriously, I must engage the topic or otherwise feel inconsistent in character. However, when the focus of the chapters is not on the gender aspect, this creates a serious dilution of ‘screentime’ and contrast of moods that it takes its toll on the story. It makes me realize why most genderbenders stay as romantic comedies, because then there is no conflict of interest in terms of the writer’s focus. But while Daybreak has its share of romcom scenes, it isn’t one at the core of its story. This has created a lot of headaches for me. Eve doesn’t have this issue because of the gap between Luna/Alexei — they share the same soul, but their identities aren’t one and the same. Luna was raised as a girl and therefore, while she might reflect upon gender differences (when it pleases me to do so), she doesn’t have to. This saves me so much headache and grief.
- Too much baggage: Again, I lose too much sleep over what people think of my stories, and Daybreak simply has too much baggage associated with it. One of Daybreak‘s biggest advantages was the fact it started as a comedy, and not a serious military/political fiction. This helped a lot in bringing readers to it, but attention is a double-edged sword. It brought in way too many readers in who annoyed me– because they couldn’t even be bothered to read a wiki page instead of running off their imagination on how topics like gender differences work. After years of working through such comments I grew sick of it. Eve represents a new start for me and a way to distance myself from them.
(…more to add to the post when I think of it)
Some people say that I should finish Daybreak first but that doesn’t grasp the story I wrote. I could go on writing 5 more volumes with Daybreak and it still wouldn’t reach a satisfying conclusion, because the core issues between its main characters require certain geopolitical conditions to be met before they can resolve them, the biggest of them being the conclusion of the ongoing war. Do I want to spent 5-10 years of my life just to ensure some readers are satisfied? Do I want to spend a year writing a rushed ending that would satisfy nobody and would only earn my dislike? Ask yourself if that doesn’t sound selfish.
No, I wanted a fresh start, one where I could reflect on everything I’ve learned from Daybreak and create a new story — one where I can rediscover my love for writing and ditch all the problematic baggage that Daybreak built up over the years. Eve is far from perfect, which is why I kept tweaking its start before now. But it represents that new hope for me: to write because I enjoy it and not because I feel obligated to.
Over the 2019 holidays I pumped out 3 chapter rewrites (no plot changes, just new scenes) and 2 new chapters (ch8 in beta at time of this posting) for Eve, because I enjoyed doing so. It took a lot of time but it was fun! I haven’t felt like that for a very long time.
I hope you can understand. I want Daybreak‘s more devoted readers to support me if possible. I try to make Eve something the same people would enjoy. But just as I cannot be throwing away years of my own free time, I cannot ask others to spend their time if they do not like it.
But hey… I tried. I cannot do any better than that.Author's Comment
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