It's something I've heard at almost every point of wanting and trying to build a writing career: you have to be active on the internet.
…But it comes at a cost. There's the inevitable time pressure, yes, but then there's also the noise.
At that time, I was trying very hard to balance my internet time. Not to restrict it, as such, but to make sure I was getting a good signal to noise ratio and — more importantly, for me — make sure I didn't feel guilty for not paying attention when I needed the time apart.
And then I promptly fell off the internet altogether.
I've been reading all my usual streams, and very occasionally tweeting when the mood took me, but mostly I haven't been blogging because, well, Life.
The biggest but simplest attention-occupier has been, of course, my TPP collection deadline. I swore to myself when I was writing Shadow Bound that never again would I sell something I hadn't already written. Now, even at the time, I knew this for an empty promise, but still. The very first thing I did was sell a four-story collection having only written one of them. Er, yeah. The first story of the three I owed, "The Briskwater Mare", came with great difficulty. Much, much difficulty. I wrote 40,000 words of false start before I finally found the story (which ended up being 11,000 words long), and it took me a good two months more than I'd budgeted (and I'd budgeted a lot of slack and generous leeway, because I know my process). Oops.
Luckily, it has, even in draft form, received the stamp of approval for going in to the collection, so now I only owe two more stories. I'm currently working on "The Cherry Crow Children of Haverny Wood" and, er, guess what? Yeah, it's coming with difficulty. So much for hoping the rest of the stories would just pour on out of me, eh? Oh well. I shall valiantly take comfort in the idea that stories which come with great difficulty are because I'm opening a vein or otherwise pushing at the boundaries of my comfort zone. Or something.
I've also, at the editor's request, written a story for an upcoming issue of ASIM. It was perhaps foolish of me to say yes, given I was already stressing over my TPP deadlines, but, well, see above re empty promises and you can extrapolate that to "I'll sell anything I can, and we all know it, right?" Unlike "The Briskwater Mare", this story came without too much trouble, although worryingly it was a rather angry story, instead of the light or humorous or even just sardonic story I was thinking I'd write. Luckily for me, the editor loved it anyway, and all that remained was to edit it (an easy enough task) and come up with a title (a task so fiendish and horrid it had no less than four people staring blankly at walls and blinking at each other, at a complete loss, for months on end). We threw so many suggestions back and forth at each other, all of them plausible and all of them workable but none of them perfect, that I was genuinely beginning to wonder whether I could send a story to print as "Untitled", or some other such meta commentary. But in the end, through gratuitous/desperate wiki'ing of large-scale abstract concepts, a title was found, and it was perfect.
The story shall be called "First They Came…", and it's going to appear in ASIM issue #55, which is due out … well, now-ish, I think.
That's most of the writing/publication news out of the way. There were also other reasons for my silence, most recently due to the Melbourne International Film Festival, during which I decided to see ten films despite a) my deadlines b) my insufficient energy levels and c) Melbourne raining on me every time I left the house.
One I can most heartily recommend is Ernest & Celestine, a charming little story about a mouse who doesn't want to be a dentist and a bear who wants to be a musician. It's just the perfect amount of whimsy and heart-warming, and don't be fooled by the narrative simplicity: there's a very rich world thought out in this one, and although it's never over-explained or harped upon, there's social commentary on the topic of prejudice, ignorance, bigotry and the value we place on various professions.
And speaking of kids, my other, biggest news (which I've oh-so-cleverly buried at the bottom of a very long post where no one will see it) is that I'm going to have one of my own.
It's due around New Years, we decided not to find out the gender until it learnt of the concept of daylight, and the grandmothers-to-be are both beyond excited and into downright agitation.