What Do I Do Now? - Krystle Matar

25 Apr 2023

There’s something very surreal about launching a book. I’m very much an “all or nothing” type of person, so in the last year? Two years? Legacy of Brick & Bone was the centerpiece of just about everything I did. When I drove around running errands, I was thinking about plot holes. When I was busy cooking, I was planning the next scene so I could execute it quickly as soon as I had time to sit down again. I started drafting B&B three years ago (yes, before I was finished with Brightwash) but the process started even further back, since the first “draft” I wrote several years ago functions very much like an outline for the whole series after I decided to break that draft into piece.

And now… the work is done. There’s nothing left to do, there’s nothing left to fix. I can’t tweak anything, there are no more passes to devour my attention. It’s finished. I can’t fiddle with it forever. Amazon, wisely, locks us out of our book in the last few days so we just. Stop. Touching it.

I find myself wandering around the house, aimless and lost. My head feels like it’s buzzing because habit says I should be thinking about Brick & Bone but there’s nothing to think about. It’s just done. Time to let it go, etc. Fly, little (big) book. Fly free!


I find myself wondering if I could have done better. If I’d had time to just do a few more passes…

What if I missed something…?

I could have pushed that character harder…

Nope. It’s done. All done. Whatever else I want to do, it has to be in the next book. Not this one.

It makes me think about how I got here. Now that I’m 34, I’ve been writing about Tashué for 20 years. Well over half my life, time that I wouldn’t have without him, I think. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: he saved me. And so, publishing him (not once, but now twice!) is an immense victory that rolls throughout my whole life. I want to reach backward and tell the younger me that we did it. We fought and we survived and we came out the other side. People feel seen by his story—or Jason’s story, or Ishmael’s story, or Stella’s story, all people characters who came to exist as Tashué evolved through the years. Fast forward through the years, through children and barely scraping by and surviving domestic abuse and then standing on my own feet and then finding someone who understood me and marriage and more children and an attempt at farming. In the last year alone, health issues nearly knocked me right back out of publishing, but we pivoted our lives back to the city (moving a family of six in a race against the snow and the cold made finishing this book extra challenging!!) but now the book is done. I did it again. I truly thought I wouldn’t make it this time, but I did. We did. (‘We’ as in me and my family. ‘We’ as in me and Tashué.)

I’m excited. I’m filled to the brim with energy. I’m relieved. I’m moved to grateful tears by how supportive this community is. I’m tired, but in a happy way.

But, to be vulnerable and honest, there’s also a creeping melancholy. Another book leaves my hands and thus my control. I can’t fix it anymore. I can’t protect it and I can’t make it better. It simply is. It lands in the hands and the hearts of its audience, and all of my intentions and skills, and ambitions are exposed. Judged. This is the natural life cycle of publishing. It’s a beautiful thing. But it’s also terrifying.

Last time, when I published Brightwash, I thought this feeling was me being melodramatic. But now I know it’s deeply normal, and so I can embrace it. A dear friend told me a story of one of their friends, who goes through a process that feels a lot like post-partum depression after every album she releases. We, as creatives, spend so much time and energy nursing this project to life, tweaking it and editing it, and changing it until it’s as perfect as we can make it, and then we send it out into the world to be perceived. The moment of separation always leaves me feeling a little bit lost and aimless. What do I do with my time, what do I do with my hands, what do I do with my thoughts? What do I do with my keyboard and my pens and my ink and all the piles of notebooks?


Of course, the answer is ‘another project.’ The next book. The next idea. I have so many ideas. Some are for the continuation of Tashué’s story, but some are independent of him. Mostly independent, anyway, because even though he won’t be in them (and in fact, my current stress is “How do I write an old warrior without just writing another Tashué?”) they will be influenced by him. I learned how to write for him and with him. My career stands on his shoulders, and all the opportunities in front of me now are thanks to him.

But first, I know I need to feel this. I need to let myself exist in the moment of emptiness. Take stock of how my life and my identity have been changing over the last two or three years, take stock of how my skills have evolved. I need to appreciate the quiet and make decisions about how I want to work going forward. How I prioritize my time, my attention. How I make space for my mental health, my family, my relationships. My career. This exquisite melancholy is part of the gig, so it’s better to acknowledge it and let it process its way through me. Fighting against it last time made it harder to deal with, I think.

So, what do I do now?

I celebrate. I celebrate a life that maybe wouldn’t exist without this drive to tell stories.

I celebrate another book. A growing career. A sprawling series.

I celebrate a community who has been embracing me and supporting me for years now.

I celebrate the people who will love Brick & Bone. I celebrate the people who won’t. I celebrate everyone in between. Because ultimately, whether someone loves my work or not, we’re all here because we love storytelling, and that’s magic.

I celebrate the changes and I celebrate the sacrifices, because even if things change, it’s for a good reason. I left that farm land because I made a choice to prioritize publishing. I’ve been fighting for this for two decades. This is all I’ve ever wanted.

I celebrate being alive to see it. I celebrate relationships that gave me the time and space I need to make it happen.

I celebrate Tashué.

And, dear reader, I celebrate you for joining me on the journey.

Do you feel the curiosity to know more about Krystle's characters? You can get both books from the following links:
-Legacy of the Brightwash: https://geni.us/brightwash
-Legacy of Brick & Bone: geni.us/brickandbone

About Krystle Matar


Krystle Matar has been writing for a long time, but things got serious when Tashué Blackwood walked into her life, an amber-eyed whirlwind. Her debut, Legacy of the Brightwash, is an SPFBO Finalist, an r/Fantasy nominee for Best Debut and Best Indie.

When she isn’t arguing with Tashué or any of his friends, she parents full-time. She has a lot of children, too many hobbies, and one very excellent husband.

She is currently working on lots of stories set in the Dominion, is 1/4 of the Swords & Corsets Podcast, and is probably obsessively rewatching BBC’s Ripper Street and/or anything that Dennis Lehane worked on like Apple TV's Blackbird.