I’ve been creating versions of this post for months now, on and off, always with a slightly modified answer.
I’ve tried both short versions and long versions, and here, I guess, is the shortest possible version:
I don’t know.
Here’s the longer version:
I’m being obtuse not because I want to be obtuse, but because a lot of the things I could talk about aren’t necessarily mine to share.
That is, I suppose, the life of a semi-public figure. If I was George RR Martin or Neil Gaiman, you’d already know what was going on, and all I would really have to share was my take on it. (Or, alternately, I suppose I could provide a plea for privacy during this time. But knowing me, I probably wouldn’t.)
But let’s give the short version of the obtuse, shall we?
In Neil Gaiman’s book Make Good Art (which is more of a speech, but never mind) he says that sometimes things interfere with making art. He specifically cites death, and if I recall correctly the death of a father, because he had just gone through that when he wrote the speech.
The death of his father put a halt to Neil’s writing for a while, and keep in mind, that’s all he does. I’m not downplaying his loss in any way, mind you. What I’m saying is, he didn’t have to get up, take care of the needs of his young child, go to work for eight hours a day, and then attempt to create a work of fiction.
All he had to do with sit down and create. And he didn’t, for a while.
So here’s what’s been up with me for the last twelve months:
One family member lost a job. Another one was in a hospital for a few days. A very good friend (as in, this person was supposed to take care of my children if I died) passed away, and the funeral fell on my birthday, which is not my friend’s fault, but this throws you for mortality loops you don’t want to know about. Another good friend (one who performed my wedding ceremony after travelling nine hours to do so) literally passed away today after a bout with cancer.
I wrote more here, which I’ve now deleted, because I think this is enough for anyone to cope with in a given year.
And all of this happened atop my day job. So unlike Neil Gaiman, who just has to get up and make art, and have his assistant handle the rest of his day to day stuff, well, I have to get up, feed my kiddo, make sure she’s ready for school, go to work, get the wee one, come home, take care of the little one, which involves food and homework and various other things, and then, after all that, I can either read or maybe watch an hour of TV or work on a book.
Only by then, there’s no fuel left in the tank.
How bad did it get? There were nights that we put the kid to bed, and my wife would fall asleep, and I would eat an Oreo and have a small glass of milk just to give the end of the day a little bump of happy, and then I would give up and we would go to bed.
We were both so physically and psychically exhausted that watching thirty minutes of television was beyond us.
Just going through the process of editing the Blood Calling books again was often more than I was capable of, and all that should have required was me reading the books again and making sure they still said what I wanted them to say, post-editing.
Probably the hardest part about all of this is that all these items would overlap each other, pushing my family from month to month to month of psychic damage.
So if we got a week off from thinking about what had just happened, and then what was coming, and I actually opened up a manuscript and started reading it, thinking about writing some more… inevitably, something else would hit and all my ambition would be drained again.
The problem, of course, becomes one of apathy and rust. After several months of being barely able to churn out blog posts about the TV I often wasn’t watching, trying to write about people I made up in my brain has gotten harder and harder.
I started two manuscripts over the last year – a modern fairy tale story, and a continuation of the Blood Calling books, and both of them have just flat-out stalled. I simply haven’t had the time or the energy to keep the creation flowing.
If you follow my Facebook page, then you may already know that that only thing I’ve done in the last year is write a single short story. That took me two weeks, and the labor of coughing up those few thousand words was agonizing.
But I will say this: It felt good to do it.
As I type this, it’s the 9th of October, which puts us about 22 days from Nation Novel Writing Month.
I seriously doubt that I’ll get much accomplished in the next three weeks. I’m going to try to find at least one more anthology to send a short story to, and then to produce that story.
And then my hope is that also, during those next three weeks, I can reread the novel fragments I’ve already written.
My plan is that I can sit down in November and try to launch myself off of my already-started story, and even if I don’t finish all 50,000 words worth of writing, I can at least find my way forward to writing something.
What will happen then? Good question.
I’m a firm believer that an indie writer can, given the right set of skills and a whopping pile of luck, become and remain a full-time author.
But I’m not sure if I can do it. My skills have proven pretty minimal, and honestly, the best thing that ever happened to me writing-wise was that Red Iris Books plucked me from total obscurity to semi-obscurity.
Maybe it’s just because I’m tired all the time, but seeing as how I can barely find the time to create, I’m about 99% sure that I can’t get up the energy to figure out where or how to promote.
So… I’m not sure what’s going to happen on that score.
For now, know that, yeah, I’m trying to put out more books for y’all to read, and if you’ve supported me through buying, or reading, or sharing via social media, I think you’re swell.
But as for what comes next? And when? That’s a bit of a mystery…