the prodigal's brother needs to stop

by benjamin hollon on june 6, 2023

Some of you may have been reading The Prodigal’s Brother, the serial novel I was publishing daily updates to. I liked where it was going and some of you did too, but it needs to stop, at least for now.

the situation

If you have been following along, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t published an update since early February. What you may not have known is that for a good couple weeks before that I was writing updates right before the deadline, often finishing only fifteen minutes before they were due to go live.

It wasn’t working for me. Being so rushed meant I was taking shortcuts in the writing and not planning things out fully, pushing me into corners I didn’t want to have to storytell my way out of.

Finally, there came a weekend where I had enough work that I knew I had to choose between schoolwork and getting my updates out on time.

I chose right: I prioritized schoolwork.

I promised myself I’d get back on top of things, but I never did. I think I already knew at that point that this day would come.

The Prodigal’s Brother is temporarily dead. I don’t have plans to continue my publishing schedule and I’m taking down what I’d published.


Here’s the thing: The Prodigal’s Brother is an important story to me. Due to this form, the issues I was having, and some other pressures I won’t mention, I was botching it.

This story is too important to me to mess up, and I realize that now. I need to take a step back, look at it from another angle, and try again.

And I will try again, I promise. I’m not going to let this story die. But I don’t know yet when I’ll be able to publish it or even if it’ll be in the same form. After trying, I really don’t think this plot is cut out for the update model I was using. It fits better as a conventional novel. (And I already have new ideas now that I’m admitting that.)

There are also some fundamental worldbuilding problems I didn’t notice until I was too far into the project to change them. I need to take another look at those. More importantly, I need the freedom to be able to change things I’ve already written, which this form didn’t provide me.

Finally, feeling guilty for not writing toward The Prodigal’s Brother was holding me back from my other writing. Since admitting defeat on this attempt, I’ve written about ten times as much as I wrote in the previous month, toward various projects. Besides launching a new blog, tty1, I’ve drafted some posts for this blog (coming soon), started work on some new fiction projects, and gotten into poetry again.

going forward

I don’t plan to stop writing this story, and I especially don’t plan to stop publishing my writing regularly. I grew unbelievably as a writer over the course of the month and a half I was writing for The Prodigal’s Brother. I need to keep publishing to keep growing, because I know I certainly haven’t arrived at my peak yet.

So, here’s the plan for how I publish what I write, going forward:

If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go get to work!

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