Once upon a FAQs page made 6 years ago (which is a surprisingly balanced combination of ‘totally outdated’ and ‘still relevant to this day’), the world inquired:
How’s your book going?
To which Past Me replied:
Which one? A few have crossed the divide into publishing territory, and I’ve always got something in [various stages of] the works. Everything seems to be going reasonably well, though – maybe even /unreasonably/ well, depending on who you ask and whether or not they believe I’m a cyborg. If you’re asking how book /sales/ are going, that depends. Have you bought them?
Back then, I basically was a cyborg. I was never not writing. I was cranking out books faster than even my steadiest fans could keep pace with. I was… very much setting myself up for the psycho-emotional meltdown that finally caught up with me around the end of The Wilderhark Tales.
(Like, is there a reason “The Story’s End” dwelt more on death and disillusionment than the fairy tales that preceded it? All signs point to yes.)
So fast-forward to nowadays, when anyone who knows I’m an author will still inevitably ask:
How’s the writing coming?
And, I just…
…never quite know how to answer that.
Because I haven’t really written anything new since – *checks “Record of Stories Read and Written” document* – February of 2018. Blog posts, sure. Tweets ‘n’ things. A fun song. I’m making words. And I’ve been editing old words into new published books.
But is any of that writing?
Not as I once knew it.
Better if anyone were to ask me:
What are you working on, these days?
That, I could answer.
I could point to my picture-book-in-progress with Hannah Vale.
I could recall that I need to wrap up the little chores standing between me and ordering my first proof copy of #CamelotWIP.
(Why am I dawdling so hard on that? Could it be a subconscious foot-dragging born of the knowledge that, once “Camelot” is out in the world, I’ll be retreating into an indefinite authorial hiatus? Am I hesitant to unbind myself from the shackles I’ve forged from social media and self-promotion and straining to make myself seen by an indifferent world? Do I fear freedom? … Or am I just really not looking forward to all the fiddly work it’ll take to make the cover print right? <_<)
The question nobody asks:
How’s your inner author life?
I’ve had no practice answering that one.
But were I to try, maybe I’d mention the evenings I spend in the company of my characters (and Tirzah’s), listening as they hash out their own lives, their feelings, their fears. It’s not writing – and it may never be writing, as far as these specific storylines are concerned. Not every character crisis can adapt itself into another Outlaws of Avalon novel or “Reality As We Know It”. But in its way, it’s contributing to my craft. It’s growing my empathy. It’s coaching me in character development. It’s generating the stuff of imagination from which all art is born. It is – I must remind myself – worthwhile.
Another answer, and one I could give with some relief: I’m having ideas again. Am brainstorming again. Am rediscovering that itch in my heart that can only be scratched with creation. Even believing in my plan to walk away from my public author persona, for a while, it means more than I can express to realize that my writer spirit is waking up from its coma.
Maybe calling it temporarily quits on trying to sell myself will make room for a creative renaissance.
Maybe I’ll remember how to cyborg and return to writing like the wind.
Or maybe that self is never one I’ll get back, but my new self and her art will have just as much value.
Once upon an author bio page made 8 years ago, you hypothetically asked:
Who does this ‘deshipley’ person think he/she is?!
She’s not so sure anymore.
But she’s curious to find out.