The History of "Soundtrack to Save the World" or How this mess finally came to be a real book.
This has been a monumental work of love that's taken up nearly 3 years of my life. It started out as a weekly updated web series that initially ran for three months in 2018. It was then re-worked into a longer series that ran for most of 2019 before I hit a plot roadblock.
I was challenged by a friend in November of 2020 to complete a draft by February 2021. A complete novel draft, something I had never been able to do because of my history of overthinking and blowing plots up into uncontrollable messes.
This trend started with my first "novel", a space opera with similar themes that ended up in "Soundtrack". The first version was written across three notebooks in middle school. It came out a bit short of a technical novel, but it was still something I considered a great accomplishment. That was when the dream of writing a full-length novel/series came to be.
I rewrote that plot so many times. Its universe expanded with every re-imagining. I had other plots I wove together into it to create this massive expansive conflict that looked through the lens of so many different characters. I loved this plot, but I ended up having to let it go. I overthought it into oblivion. I could no longer contain it. I could no longer pinpoint what the main plot was or what my intention for it was. It meandered in my mind until I could no longer write it down.
At the dawn of 2018, I was coming out of a rough period of time. I was in a dark place and I felt like I had no control over my life. That was the last time I tried to salvage this plot. It didn't work and it broke my heart. The number of documents I had started and never gotten anywhere with was countless. I was spinning my wheels, it had to stop.
So I scrapped it.
From its ashes rose a project I called "The Q'taxians".
I wrote the first chapter around June of 2018 and just... dropped it. I'm not entirely sure why, but I let it stagnate until September when I picked it back up again and decided I wanted to make it a web series. It ran for three whole months of weekly updates before I decided I'd finished the first arc. I made custom art and title letters for every chapter. It was an intense labor of love.
I had just joined Twitter as a writer and accidentally used #writingcommunity on a post. The next thing I knew I was swept up into this massive follow-for-follow movement in the community. My followings and followers exploded. I was now being properly exposed to this side of the world of writing.
I didn't like it.
Everyone was writing novels and I was here with a web series feeling like I didn't belong.
I was actually picked up by some very nice people who were there for me even before the sudden explosion of writing Twitter. They supported me, but I still felt like I didn't really fit. They were either working on books or already published and I never had any intention of publishing a book.
Well, once I finished that first arc in December 2018, I printed it out and announced I would be editing it into a book.
I hated doing that.
2019 rolled around and somewhere at the start I recommitted to the web series. I wanted to go hard on the music theme. Every chapter shared a title with a song that fit thematically and I began putting together a Spotify playlist for the arc in progress.
I was also going to rewrite it in a more honest manner. I hid a lot in the original run. My main character was cis and in a hetero relationship. By the end, he was pining for the other male lead and I decided I was doing both him and his femme companion a disservice by forcing them together because of my own personal struggles. I started 2019 with the idea of being clear about who my MC was and that was honestly terrifying.
It's not clear in "Soundtrack" yet, but Sylus is a transman. I wrote that very clearly into the 2019 version. It began pre-transition and ended post. His "transition" isn't natural and comes at a high price, but he was put in a unique situation he couldn't walk away from.
The 2019 version ran until early 2020. I don't have the exact date it stopped because I kept forcing updates even after I'd hit a plot roadblock. It became a lot of filler that was getting increasingly irritating. The last post I can put my hands on was from February 2020. After that, it's all gone.
That roadblock drove me insane. I started rethinking the plot. Overthinking it, one could say. It blew up. It was already blowing up. The original site was already promising 5 years' worth of updates in way of an arc a year. An arc consisted of bi-weekly posts no shorter than 10k words. It was insane. The part I did keep ended up being around 130k words. And boy could someone reading it feel every word of it.
It was a SLOG. It really was. I have one or two die-hard fans who genuinely liked it. I received high praise for the first chapter, but after that, no one came back to read any more of it. It honestly hurt so much. I had this great story that was out there to read for free and no one wanted to look at it. I kept advertising it as free thinking if nothing else that was a great selling point. An entirely free novel? Who could say no to that?
Apparently, everyone who followed me on social media.
I even tried some interactive events.
I had a weekly game called "Weird Words Weekly" which was a sort of in-universe adlib game. That got some hits but died off after a few months. My brother had even helped me automate the input and results. A lot of work went into that...
Oh but it got worse.
I devised an in-universe online RP writing game. People could pick a class and begin accruing XP via writing games to level up. Classes determined special weekly prompts and bonuses depending on the daily prompts. I worked out eight classes, four per faction (void v blood [mortals]), and made unique icons. Each class had a short video made for it describing its attributes. A special site was designed and a google sheets doc had been opened for XP keeping. I even had months of prompts planned out and scheduled into a public calendar. I advertised this for months before launch and no one, not a single soul, signed up.
I honestly gave up on it at the start of 2020. I so desperately wanted it to be SOMETHING, but I was starting to question my ability to write at all, much less write something people would want to read.
2020 was a nightmare for me from the start. I won't go into it now because I don't feel like rehashing it, but needless to say, even pre COVID-19, my world was coming apart. I hit the lowest point of my life in the Spring of 2020. I felt so broken and lost and alone. I lost my job. I lost people I once called my family. I lost 10 years of growth and time investment. I lost so much... But I was still alive.
It took me almost an entire year to start healing. In that time, I met some people who've become good friends and rekindled some old relationships that were shaky at best in 2020. It got better by the end.
One of these new friends encouraged me to write again. So I printed out the 2019 web series and began editing it with the intention of turning it into a book.
As I mentioned before, it was a SLOG even for me to read. There were bits and pieces where I thought "Hey that sounds really good! Nice job!" and others where I was like "Why did I do this? What does this mean? God this sucks...". Standard issues with editing, but add to that the sheer length of this mess and its numerous plot seeds... It got frustrating and I started slipping again.
That's when said friend gave me a deadline. The one I mentioned at the start. I had three months to write a novel and do some basic editing before I had to turn it over to them. I figured that was plenty of time to finish editing the web series.
I trudged through editing in November. It sucked. Bad. This behemoth wasn't written with the intent of being a book. It was written with the intent of being this unending tale with branching plots. Trying to distill it down into a novel was incredibly difficult.
My small wood-cutting business picked up in December so I lost a month.
January rolled up and I realized I only had a month. I'd done NaNoWriMo before so I knew I could in theory churn out a novel, but would I be happy with it?
I set the web series aside and started distilling the plot.
I started realizing that I was trying to avoid or subvert tropes. This didn't help anyone. It made the plot the muddy mess it was. I decided that tropes existed for a reason and as long as they were used tastefully, they had a right to exist.
Toward the end of the web series, I started feeling like I was telling the story from the wrong point of view. Originally it was third person floating over Sylus' shoulder. But I began realizing that it was Jeron who should be telling the story. So it shifted to third over Jeron's shoulder. Rather than an old friend, Sylus was a traveling vagrant whose son was living with his aunt and uncle rather than with him (major plot deviation). It was going to become this road-tripping, forced proximity romance with a cosmic conflict rolling on in the background. This plot didn't get far, but it DID lead me to re-evaluate it again.
That's when "Soundtrack" happened. Ten days. I wrote 75k words in 10 days. It just snapped into perspective. The entire plot boiled down. I found the key tropes and leaned into them.
✅Creepy little cloistered west coast town
✅MC is part of this community, but also something of an outsider
✅New arrival causes problems
✅Massive reveal of the true nature of the town
✅MC has to work with new person to save the world
We have our plot.
And that's where we are now. As of writing this, "Soundtrack for Saving the World, Mix 1: His Eyes" is undergoing a second round of professional editing and I intend to self-publish later this year.
Yes, I know, self-publishing is hard, but I'm going to try.
Would I turn down an offer from a publisher? Dunno. I'd have to see what that looks like, but right now, I'm not writing with the intention of selling it to a publisher. I'm writing it for me. If a publisher comes along, we'll talk.
So that was my story and how I came to write "Soundtrack for Saving the World". I hope it was at least an entertaining read if nothing else. I also hope you'll consider sticking around for more updates about the novel and myself as a writer (I hesitate to say author since the book isn't published yet. I've also heard people argue that you have to be publisher published to be an author, but I'm gonna nix that standard).
Thank you for reading and stay tuned for plenty more to come!