Attitude Adjustment Required

I’m a pessimist. Sort of.

I have this idea if I anticipate the absolutely worst possible outcomes in any situation, none of them will come to pass. So basically I’m an optimist who’s hypervigilant about the negative.

I am very annoying to live with.

One practical upshot of this is I tend to be negative about writing, most of the time. I talk in terms of what I “have” to do, or what I “should” do. (My mother always told me to banish all the “shoulds” from my life.) And this is a shame, because writing has been my outlet for pretty much everything since I was a little girl. Things have changed since then, for certain, and I can’t pretend that blows and setbacks haven’t affected how I relate to being creative.

But you know, if it didn’t mean everything to me, I would have stopped in October of 2017, and I’d be filling my spare time with crochet and bad drawing and…

What else? There are other things in the world people like to do, I’m told. Not that it matters, because I’m still writing, because whatever I think of it, it’s as much a part of me as my blood and my bones. I can resent it, be depressed by it, neglect it, get angry with it, but it’s not going away.

So this year, I’m going to try to remember that I love it.

I have a lot of work I want to do. I have my 80-90% finished series book, which already has a cover:

Starship against orange and black galactic swirls, above a dark, crenelated platform. A small figure falls from the ship to the platform.

Isn’t it beautiful? I’d like to get it out into the world before the artist becomes too famous to do the fifth cover for me.

Mostly, I’d like to finish the book. There are reasons this one has been difficult, but there are no good reasons. I would like to focus, and do the polish work I know needs doing, and make it something I’m happy to offer to the rest of the world. There’s one more book in the series after this, and I know how it all ends–it’s just a matter of getting it written down.

And I’m gonna do a hardcover of this one. I know the others don’t have hardcover versions–that’s out of my hands–but the hardcover of Arkhangelsk is so pretty. I mean, yeah, it’d be cheaper to have the art done in a high quality print I can hang on the wall, but there’s something about a really lovely dust jacket, you know?

Once this book is done, I have an in-progress standalone, tentatively titled Only The Dead. This one has seen two NaNo iterations, and I think I have a pretty good idea of where I want it to go now. Initially I wanted it to be a horror story, but it’s hauled me back to the SF side of things (although there are still a lot of horror elements). I spent a lot of time poking this one with a stick before I figured out the ending, and now it’s this whole big vibrant thing–in my head. I’ve written out about a third of it–yes, it’ll get cut down in revisions; I suspect it’ll end up Arkhangelsk-length, which is 110K-ish–and I have some things to figure out about the middle. But I do love how it ends, and I do love the setup conceits. It’s always lovely having new people come alive in my head.

What happens when it’s finished? I haven’t decided yet. Conventional wisdom suggests I query the thing, and see if I can get a trade deal. There are good reasons to do that. There are good reasons to not, as well. I’ll decide once I’ve written it, I suppose!

After Only the Dead is the as-yet-unnamed last book of the Central Corps series. I know how it ends. (Spoiler: Everything ends as it’s supposed to.) I have most of the final section sketched out. Given everything else I need to do this year, it’ll likely be 2024 before I can make a decent start on it (I’ll shoot for this year’s NaNo), but it’s percolating.

And I have a small clutch of ideas for short things, maybe a little Central Corps tie-in that would bridge the time between 4 and 5. No commitment there. I’ll let it bubble for a while.

Writing has always been an act of turning myself inside out, of baring my soul in the guise of fictional events. I can feel it–usually–when it works, when I’ve said exactly what I wanted to say. Not everyone is going to hear it, of course; not everyone will enjoy the delivery, or resonate with the themes. No book is universally liked; I myself loathe some of the Big Serious Books that others cling to like a lifeline. Humans are beautiful and different and unpredictable, and I wouldn’t change that.

But there’s satisfaction in making the story exactly what I need it to be. I can’t control what others think of it, and past a certain point (you must market to be visible, people!) it’s counterproductive to try. But I can write things that please me. I can write something that works, that is true to its nature. There’s joy in that, no matter what sort of commercial fate it might have.

So here’s to joy in writing in 2023. Which means I should get off the blog and do some of it.

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