An update about Volume Four

Hello to all of my deer friends out there (and to all of my human friends as well),

I begin this post the same way I begin most of them - with an apology. Sorry I've been so silent and slow to respond over the last... how long has Covid been a thing? Three years? That can't be right... Dang. Okay, moving on...


Anyway, as you can probably guess from the title of this post, I wanted to offer a status update regarding the fourth main book in the Tales from the Gas Station series. It's been well over a year since the release of Volume Three, and while it ended on a certain note of finality, there were a few unanswered questions left lingering.


When I set out to write one final epic installment to cap off the Tales from the Gas Station quadrilogy (or "tetralogy," if you're pedantic like me), I knew it would be no easy task. The plan (you guys remember plans?) was to finish and have it ready to hit shelves at some point in the beginning of 2021 (you guys remember 2021?). But I hit a few distractions. Some internal, some external.


I knew this was my only chance for a perfect goodbye. I wanted to make sure that this was going to be the send-off the story deserved. That meant finding the "right" way to wrap up all of the mysteries of the gas station, which is, of course, impossible. The whole time I plotted my swan song to the universe I've spent four and a half years living in, I carried with me the unsettling knowledge that – no matter what I did – I couldn’t possibly finish the series in a way that would satisfy everyone. Heck, no matter how I ended it, my decisions were inevitably going to upset a lot of my long-term readers (for those of you with hopes or expectations, start preparing yourselves for disappointment).


There were other unexpected speedbumps along the way. A snowstorm. A hurricane. The abysmal mislaunch of Cyberpunk 2077. Also, I suppose enough time has passed now that I can finally mention the failed (but awesome) attempt to develop the gas station series into a television show. I learned a lot in the process and have but one regret... that it didn't pan out (this time). It was a great experience and I learned a lot in the process, but it absorbed quite a bit of my time and attention that otherwise could have gone to finishing other projects.


Speaking of other projects, there was that experimental ARG puzzle that eventually turned into Bedside Manor (now available in paperback!), a graphic novel adaptation of the Mayfly story (coming soonish), and a new podcast featuring original stories and discussions from me and a couple of my childhood best friends (give us a listen, wouldja?).


On top of all of that, there was this pesky global pandemic going around killing millions of people that really zapped my creative mojo. But I tried to power through. I forced myself onto a writing schedule. At certain points, I pushed too hard and burned out and had to step away to refocus. And then time started doing that thing it does. The early 2021 release goal came and went, and I changed my projection to be a much more realistic "late 2021." And the closer I got to the end of the year, the more certain I felt that I was going to hit my goal. I had a decent collection of words and sentences that kinda sorta looked like a first draft. All I had to do was get it the rest of the way from "mostly ready" to "ready." And that's when I realized something...

This book is a tube of toothpaste.

The first 90% went so quickly! And the next 9% went a little slower, but still relatively quickly. The last .9% went at a decent speed. And so on, and so on, until suddenly it was the far-off year of 2022 and the book was sitting at 99.999999% of the way done but still somehow giving me more work to do before I could send off to my editing team. I was beginning to think this story was going to defeat me and never get finished. Which is why I decided to skip book four altogether and go ahead to writing Tales from the Gas Station: Volume Five instead.


(Haha, nah, I'm just kidding. Can you imagine?)


I'm happy to report that the train is finally moving again. I have a good, solid, real draft of the book that is warmed up and ready to send to the editors.


In its current form, it's 170,000 words, 479 pages, and 42 chapters of 100% brand new, never-before-seen material. That's down from the original 350,000+ word story, but still way too long.


So what happens next? Well, I've got to go through the hardest part of writing a book, emotionally speaking. I have to decide what else I can cut out while still being able to live with myself. I've already removed the entire wedding scene, the section with Rosa going to the North Pole to kill Santa, the part with the moon succubi (sorry, Jerry; I know you were really excited for people to see what happened to the crew of Apollo 69), and the three chapters that were written entirely in French (admittedly, those were only there to mess with Mr. Creepypasta during his audiobook recording).


After that, it’s just a matter of refining, cleaning, and then pulling the figurative trigger and facing the repercussions.


So how long will all that take? Great question. I don’t know. It could be a month. Could be longer. But for the next week at least, I’m going to take some time away from the gas station to relax, read a few books, and probably work on the next couple episodes of Starship Mudskipper.


When I have more to report, this is where you’ll find it.


Love you all. And thank you so much for everything.





-Jack

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