On 2022

I’ve had a book on submission with a publisher for eleven months now. That’s a long time – by no means a record, but a long time nevertheless. In the meantime I’ve got halfway through the (second) sequel, as well as doing a hell of a lot of commercial editing, so I’ve hardly been sitting on my hands. But I’ve not been submitting. I have been waiting.

This is how 2022 is going to go for me. This book is either going to be accepted for publication or I’ll be rejected. If the latter I’ll be very disappointed but, y’know, life and all that. I’ll then have to consider whether I go on trying to place it commercially – all the hells themselves won’t know where, mind – or if I’m going to take all the lessons learnt from New Gods and self-publish.

If it’s accepted – well, it probably won’t be published before 2023 and there’s all the rounds of editation it’ll need to go through, but I’ll know what I’m doing. I can get on with first-drafting Breathing Fire, and editing Our Kind of Bastard, and I’ll keep the hope of being some kind of ‘success’ alive.

Of course I’ll do all that writing and editing anyway because it is, at the end of the day, what I do.

2022 is to be determined, for me, by a binary choice made by someone else. This is not a good way to be and I don’t advocate it – which is, of course, why I,’m trying to carry on as if that’s not happening. I am still keeping my eyes open for other submission opportunities – I’m not beholden to anyone – but I’ve already been rejected by all agents and, for this trilogy, this seems like my last chance.

So how optimistic am I about the year to come? I have no idea. Not very? Somewhat? I always try to expect rejection because that way it doesn’t hurt as much when it happens. I guess, though, this time I am afraid because I can’t see a road ahead with a no.

And that’s what I really fear. Not the rejection itself, but the feeling of helplessness that is likely to accompany this one. This is a good book. It’s levelling up on my past work – or at least that’s how I feel anyway. I just won’t know what to do next if the thumbs turn down.

2021 can get in the bin. It was not a good year for me. 2022? Well, we shall just have to see.

Schrodinger’s email

Disclaimer: This post was written about a month back but shelved as I had another idea that I thought was better. Unfortunately I’ve had a magnificently unproductive week, writing-wise, and so I’ve been unable to upload my unconscious urgencies unto my computer. So, rather than stall, prevaricate or panic – or, worse, to improvise – I’ve wheeled this out just for you.

Remember: your eyeballs and brain-cells will recover, but my reputation will never recover its sheen. May the Flying Spaghetti Monster have mercy on my soul, and may my readers have pity upon me.

Well. Another week. Another draft complete and Night Shift is back with the agent. Now I have to forget all about it as I await, anticipate and dread the response. For all we do this work – and it has been a hell of a lot of work – for these moments, nothing is quite as terrifying as receiving the E-Mail of Doom. Knowing intellectually that Yay or Nay doesn’t really mean all that much in the grand scheme of things, but still being terrified to open that email. Knowing that a no is much, much more likely and yet still fearing rejection and still feeling the pain in an almost visceral way.

Schrodinger’s email could sit in the inbox forever unopened. If it’s unread then it must contain both a yes and a no. Only the act of reading will collapse the waveform, let the phase-space disintegrate and leave you with a cold, hard, irrevocable Answer.

I suppose really I should take a little time off now – or, failing that, get back to work on Night Shift’s sequels. Or even look at a Plan B and consider self-publication or testing out other avenues of agency/publication. Nuts to that. I need a break. I desperately need to get out of Antarctica. So I’m going back to the world of dreams to actually write something new.

I’m a grafter. I am not given to genius, I’m stolid, persistent and dull. The actual act of creation doesn’t come along too often; maybe I’ll write something new and unique once every eighteen months. The rest of my time is spent nibbling away at editing and redrafting and agonising over the placement of individual commas and semi-colons. The chance to actually write doesn’t come along too often.

I don’t mind this: it’s the puzzler in me, the workhorse – and, for people like me, it’s what writing is. But still, there’s nothing to compare with the white-hot joy of creation, when you get far enough along the story that all the pieces fall into place and you’re writing downhill again…

It’s time to reboot. It’s time to use all the skills I’ve learnt over the last year – to focus on what I’ve found are my weaknesses and grow them into strengths. To realise that I have, in previous novels, failed to consider plot deeply enough and especially characterisation, and start again.

It’s time to write a new story.