“How’s the Writing Coming?”, Plus the REAL Questions

Once upon a FAQs page made 6 years ago (which is a surprisingly balanced combination of ‘totally outdated’ and ‘still relevant to this day’), the world inquired: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…

How's Your Book Doing_via Twitter

…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.

Open Journal: Who Died?

I don’t recall when I started thinking so, but it occurred to me that the depression I’m going through right now feels a lot like grieving. It’s not a constant thing – not just all the time down and sad, 24/7. There will be moments – minutes – hours – in which I feel pretty much fine. Then I’ll Remember, and boom. Crash. Back down again.

And if this is grieving – if this blue lethargy and difficulty coping with the smallest disappointments and inability to harness the true might of my Get ‘Er Done superpower and authorial magic is all a form of mourning – it begs the question: Who died?

What was it inside of me that I lost during That Time at the end of Germany?

And can it be someday, somehow, returned to life?

*

A number of online friends have quietly reached out to me in concern over the past few weeks. Thanks, guys. You know who you are. And if you were thinking of or meaning to check in/offer support and just couldn’t make yourself get around to it, hey – I see you, too. I know exactly how that can go. Engaging with people – even just typing a few words in a private message box – can take more out of you than you’ve got to spare. That’s the case for me, anyway.

I’ve been spending a lot less time in my social media spaces than in days of yore. As an introvert, I didn’t have a ton of social energy to start with, and there’s even less to go around these days. But I’ve yet to drop out of sight completely – in part because I’d hate for everyone to be like, “Haven’t heard from Danielle in a while. And last I saw, she seemed really down. Aw heck, did she kill herself?!”

Because even if you’re not me, whose default assumption that anyone who disappears for an hour is dead, I can see how my disappearing just now could be construed as alarming.

Don’t worry. Wistfully morbid fantasies aside, and despite the fact that I don’t always feel like staying alive, I’m not about to deliberately take my own life. 1, I haven’t got the guts. 2, it would be wasteful, and I detest waste. 3, my loved ones would be too sad. As someone apparently in mourning, I can’t bear the thought of putting my family and friends through this kind of grief and then some.

sometimes-he-comes-in-the-clouds

The thing about grief, though: Life goes on. Drops of joy slip in amidst the rain, and sometimes he comes in the clouds. The whole may hurt, but parts are maybe worth it, if we make it through.

So I’m still here. And barring accidents, here I shall remain. If anybody wants to send over a nice sympathy casserole, though, I’m sure Will Scarlet would make me eat it.

Open Journal: Third Person, Inactive Voice

Danielle has mad respect for people who can sing well while in emotional distress. When she’s sad or angry or anxious, vocal control is the first thing to go. She goes all tight – mouth, throat, chest, and deeper – locking up the words, strangling the sound. Forget making music – just talking’s close enough to impossible.

*

The more I have to say,

the less I do,

because I know for sure

you wouldn’t hear me.

Once, at her desk, she scribbled that down, and then crossed it out, then got back to numbly performing her day job.

It seems some people spill all their business on social media. Got angst? Throw a wall of text at Facebook, or rant it out in a long thread of Tweets.

Danielle can’t do that.

Or she could, but she doesn’t, because she’s not sure which would be worse:

Being seen as a melodramatic complainer…

…Or not being seen at all.

*

Because I don’t have the time, she thought, re: why she couldn’t get in the NaNoWriMo zone this year.

Because I don’t have the energy.

Because I don’t have the inspiration.

Upon further reflection, none of that was the problem.

The problem is that she’s been broken.

During her last days in Germany, someone wrecked her. Knocked her half-senseless with words. It was all she could do to choke out a stammering reply without crying, and face a morning of mandatory socializing without collapsing, and fake a smile that hid the truth she half-wished somebody would see and save her from.

The day before, she’d been working on a story.

In the days since, trying to explore fiction has been like singing in distress.

Two months later, her author self is still locked up tight, and she doesn’t know how to coax it out again.

longhand

*

Sometimes, when Danielle’s too upset to talk, she’ll have a character do it for her. Usually Will, if he’s not too upset on her behalf. Or Allyn, if he chooses to favor the conversation with his presence. Or Gilbert, whom you still haven’t met properly, but has been mentioned before a time or two.

Danielle thought of having one of them write this blog post for her. Maybe one of them has. You wouldn’t know. This post’s voice isn’t polished up for show; for sounding how one’s “supposed to” sound. It’s just about forcing the words past a locked-up chest and squeezed-tight throat and clamped-closed mouth, out and free into the open. It’s about speaking the truth aloud (or whatever you call the typed up equivalent), and that’s easier done for Danielle in the third person.

So. Now it’s out.

Which will be worse: Seen, or unseen?

Probably whichever one she has to live through.

“Multifaceted” or “Looking for Versatile Ways to Celebrate Versatility”

For the fourth time in Ever On Word’s history, I have been awarded kudos as a Versatile Blogger! For those who’ve forgotten or never knew, here are this particular award’s entourage of rules, shared verbatim from the post that nominated me, fairytale/folklore news source, The Grimm Report:

VersatileBloggerAward

Number One: List the rules and regulations of this time honored tradition.

Number Two: Display the badge of the Versatile Blogger Award for all the world to covet.

Number Three: Include a link back to the blogger who was able to spot your genius.

Number Four: Divulge seven (7) interesting facts about yourself.

Number Five: Nominate fifteen (15) others for this outstanding achievement.

The gratification that my fellow bloggers wish thus to acknowledge me never fades. The handling of the award’s acceptance, on the other hand, grows more challenging every time. The fact that finding over a dozen new bloggers to nominate just isn’t going to happen for me today aside, how to keep my response fresh and interesting when we’ve done it all before? After all, if people are going to keep thinking of me as versatile, I’ve gotta walk the walk.

Today’s solution: Focus on one of “versatile”s fine synonyms – “multifaceted” – by listing words representing seven facets of my personality, with the catch that the first word will have one syllable, the second will have two, the third will have three, and so on. I’m sure there’s a word to describe why I love turning list-making into a word puzzle game, but let’s not spend too long dwelling on that. We’ve got other words to explore!

1 = Vague. I use this in the “indistinctly felt, perceived, understood, or recalled; hazy” sense. I don’t really get me. Even having lived with me all my life, I’m still trying to figure myself out. …or, more accurately, I’ve only recently started trying to figure myself out. I’d find it more interesting if I were a fictional character I planned to write a novel about, but I’ll give it what I’ve got regardless.

2 = Trusty. You can count on me to be count-on-able! …Not necessarily when it comes to using real words, obviously. But I’m a gal who takes her vows seriously. Which is why I’ve learned to be selective in making promises.

3 = Affected. …As in, easily-. It can take next to nothing to rocket me up to the thermosphere of joy, and just as little to bring me crashing back to earth. My body can shake with a character’s anger, even as my heart’s doing flips because, gosh darn it, that character looks so crazy cute when he’s furious. The weather, the background noise, whatever that thing was that happened three hours ago… it all influences me, for better or worse.

4 = Fastidious. From the arrangement of words to the arrangement of a sandwich, I’m a Goldilocks who wants everything to be just right.

5 = Inconceivable! I don’t mean what you think I mean. (This all goes back to me being easily-affected. By unrelenting memes.)

Ironically, “pop-culture sellout” also has five syllables. -_-
Ironically, “pop-culture sellout” also has five syllables. -_-

6 = Overcomplicating. Y’know, like I’ve done with this list. Couldn’t just list my seven favorite fruits or character crushes, oh, no…

7 = Sentimentalization. If it’s a crime, I’m guilty of it a lot. What can I say? I’m a dreamy romantic who loves an emotional high.

And that, readers, is just a part of what contributes to multifaceted me.

As for the 15 nominations rule, here’s what I’m going to do instead: Every nominee that I’ve named for this award the past three times I received it will get their names linked here again*. But I’m not going to swing by their blogs and officially yell, “Tag!” So theirs shall be all of the exposure of the award, minus all the responsibility. (Proving that either exposure and great power are not the same thing, or Uncle Ben Parker was in error.)

*Some names changed or omitted to protect the innocent. …Or because they renamed their blogs or appear to have gone on hiatus.

A Most Singular Adventure

Butterflies and Dragons

Deadline? What Deadline?

Emerald Barnes’ Dreaming Awake Blog

Her Inklings

One Little Library

Reina Cottier NZ Artist

Seven & a Half First Drafts

Sonya Scribbles

The Hyperteller

The Kate That I Know

The End (at long last! My fastidious side took way too long on this puppy!).