I’m around, I’m breathing, I’m writing.
And I’m waiting.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
Coz being a writer, if you’d not noticed, is largely a waiting game. Of course, it’s not ideal to be idle whilst doing said waiting. You need to keep writing coz that’s the job. But sometimes the waiting takes on a weight of its own and can become very heavy, like a pair of 500lbs parrots sitting on your shoulders, shouting “Polly want a cracker NOW.”
You have to keep writing because the writing is the product, the purpose, the end goal. Sitting around complaining about the waiting, scratching your backside, and feeling sorry for yourself does not get the job done.
I am waiting for several things: to hear back from an agent about a novel; to hear back about a novella from an editor; to get the galleys back for two collections; to get artwork back for one of those collections; for a support letter to arrive for a grant; to hear back from an editor whether she likes a collection or not; to hear the result of another grant application …
At the same time, I have things to do: I have to write six commissioned stories by the end of the year – and three of those are due by the end of May; I have to finish the last of the tales that make up The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales; I have to type up all my nasty scribbled notes for a graphic novel version of Sourdough and Other Stories and make a date with Kathleen Jennings to sit and talk about getting a prototype done that we can approach potential publishers with; I need to go over the editorial report for my novelette Narrow Daylight and get that back to the publisher; I have to write a novella for Spectral Press called The Witch’s Scale for next year; I need to write three brand new stories for my Noose and Gibbet collection for next year. I also need to finish a couple more novels.
It’s not like I’ve got nothing on my plate, but there is inevitably a trough that comes when it seems you’re doing a lot of pedaling and getting precisely nowhere. I am there at the moment. I allowed myself the standard period of groaning and moaning (four days), when I also buried myself in other people’s work: books, films, art. It refills the well and inspires me. It makes me kick myself in the backside (requiring some contortion and general hip dysplasia) and get back to what I’m meant to be doing.
I look at the PDF for my Spectral Press Chapbook, Home and Hearth, and think how much I love the artwork and how proud I am of the story. I look at the artwork for the cover (from Kathleen Jennings, of course) for The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, and think how proud I am of that book and how lovely it will be when it’s all put together. And I look at the papercut artwork for Black-Winged Angels (again with the Jennings), and again I am so proud of those stories and how lovely it will all look. And I look at The Female Factory, which Lisa and I wrote this year and am incredibly proud of it and so very, very grateful to have a best friend and writing partner of Lisa’s talent and generosity.
And so, I eventually find myself coming out of the fugue of grumpy writer limbo. And I find, at last, there are new words for me to write. This morning I woke up with the opening line of “A Stitch in Time”, which is the next Tallow-Wife story. And all is well with the world once more.