State of the Author, August 2015

Posted in writing.

Michelle — that would be me — suffered what might be called a cata­strophic crash in the middle of May, and recov­ered in time to do a frenetic revi­sion, a book review column, and copy-edits of the afore­men­tioned frenetic revi­sion. This did not lead, oddly enough, to a stable, happy frame of mind when I once again confronted my personal nemesis, Grave. I was very burned out.

I’ve mentioned before, but will say it again: when the writing is Not Going Well, I tend to with­draw from the wider world. I’m not terribly social-media active to begin with, so it’s not always imme­di­ately obvious, but I reach a point, when strug­gling with words, where I begin to feel that I am not the writer that people want to interact with — that writer is compe­tent and orga­nized and gets things done. That writer writes books that people want to read. Instead of, you know, nuking a book three times back to page one because it still isn’t right.

Objec­tively, I know that all people have bad days at work. It’s a fact of life. Writing, however, requires a very partic­ular type of subjec­tivity, and these two things don’t always mix well.

(Also: In July, I dropped a chair on my foot and broke my toe. I could not wear shoes for two weeks without screaming in pain. Bare feet work fairly well for chil­dren under the age of six; they really don’t work well for adults. I forgot about this on the first day I tried to go shop­ping, and ended up wearing … house slip­pers. After that, I stayed home until I could wear shoes. So, there was that as well.)

I had committed to going to Sasquan, this year’s worldcon, and I wasn’t certain how that was going to go — but I’m very glad I went. I got to meet readers, I read the first chapter of Cast in Honor, about which I was very anxious because, well, neurotic writer. It reminded me that no, every­thing is not Disaster. I got to see a bunch of friends, and meet people with whom I’ve corre­sponded, but have never met face-to-face before, which was great.

(Of course, the day after I got home, while taking the kids out for lunch, a wasp flew down the front of my dress, and, while I was shrieking and attempting to remove it, bit me. Giant welt. Plans for wasp geno­cide. Ahem. It’s been that kind of Summer.)

I also figured out a crucial missing piece for Grave which is – and I’m sure this will, at this point, surprise no-one – still not finished.

I am behind in War, but I’m also working on it; it is not causing the diffi­culty that Grave, and before it, Touch, caused.

And yes, I still have the Sigurne excerpt, which is still not here, but I’ll try to get it presentable within the next couple of weeks.

So: I am, after a stumble, working again. I apol­o­gize for making you worry, because I know some people do.

33 Responses to State of the Author, August 2015

  1. Michelle your an inspi­ra­tion to an aspiring writer like me. Your elantra series has a heroine several of my family say /is/ me. I hope one day soon I can catch you at a conven­tion and meet you to say in person just how much of a hero you are to me. And how much sharing your life through your blog gives me advice and encour­age­ment on my own jour­neys. Thanks a ton.

  2. Shanna says:

    Wow. You’ve had an eventful summer! Just so you know I think your books are simply amazing and wait eagerly for every new release!!! They are amazing because you care so much. I think we all reach a point where we need to hide from the world and that’s ok! I’m just glad you’re out in the world again! Do take care of your­self! When we take care of ourselves every­thing else falls into place!!!

  3. Zia says:

    I’m sorry to hear things are still so stressful (and I am even sorrier to hear that one of your toes decided to add to it by attempting to be less fixed in form) but I am very, very happy to hear from you! Hope­fully every­thing falls into place soon, and I cannot wait to read any/all the up coming books no matter when they come out.

    Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to post here!

  4. Rita says:

    No need to apol­o­gize. We, as your avid readers who love your writ­ings, wish you only health, peace, joy and a world without wasps.
    Sounds like you need a vaca­tion or at least a spa day. I for one am extremely grateful for your books. We should apol­o­gize to you for any pres­sures we might have inflicted for our own selfish enjoy­ment. I hope you have a long and fruitful career. I await you next book with eager­ness but patience.
    Health and Peace to you.

  5. Lisa says:

    I am with commen­tator Rita. It sounds like you need the freedom of a mental vaca­tion. Tell your dead­lines to just hang out. I don’t mind re reading your wonderful books while you take a break. I also know there are no breaks with chil­dren. Enjoy them while they are there knowing your wonderful imag­i­na­tion is re ener­gizing in its own good time. I love your books and can tell you write from your heart. Give your heart time to rebal­ance your life. Have some fun, laugh some belly laughs. We fans can wait and will, don’t worry!! We will be there when you are ready again. You are such a wonderful story teller ????????

  6. Aaliya says:

    I would join you on the wasp geno­cide but I’m sure there would HUGE rami­fi­ca­tions, which always seem to be the case when some­thing small is taken out of the picture.
    As a HUGE fan of your Elantra series, I am always eager for new books but just like most things, waiting is good for the soul. Patience is a virtue I struggle with regu­larly but when good things come from hard work, it’s worth it.
    What I am trying to say, far too elab­o­rately, is that, have patience with your­self. You need it. You deserve it.
    Creative minds either freak with pres­sure or bloom.
    I’d rather struggle to wait for your work and know you are happy and well then get a quick fix and have you suffer for it.
    Ok, sorry, just wanted to send you posi­tive thoughts and encour­age­ment!

  7. Andrea says:

    I’m glad to hear from you. I started worrying because it’s been a long time… even for you???? I’m not a writer but the word “dead­line” would reduce my creative flow. It would be diffi­cult sto continue working on your nemesis with a pen.(maybe a ball bat, fist or sword) Hope the rest of Grave comes together without diffi­culty. I look forward to Cast in Honor. I wish I was there for the reading of chapter 1 and meeting you in person. If anyone took pictures please post a link.

  8. Mary Knight says:

    Your chron­i­cles of elantra series are my favorites. I am thankful that you care deeply about what you write. Looking forward to Cast in Honor.

  9. DebbieH says:

    I enjoy your books so much, that while I have no patience when waiting for the next book in my favorite series — for your books I will wait a long time. I hope you can take a few days to relax and not worry about dead­lines. You are much loved and I hope Grave settles down for you. Looking forward to Chapter 1 of Cast In Honor. I can’t under­stand how you think you are a neurotic writer when you have such loyal fans — we love your writing. I hope you can find the joy in writing that we get from reading your wonderful books.

  10. Tim Bowie says:

    Your apology is not neces­sary, Michelle. Still, if it were, you would be completely forgiven. The wasp episode is trau­matic enough without the broken toe, so you needn’t feel badly. We love you, we love your writing, and we will continue to give you what­ever support we can. *HUGS*

  11. Tchula says:

    Wow, sounds like a frus­trating summer! I’m glad you got to see some friends at Sasquan – laughing with friends makes every­thing better! I hope the rest of the year goes smoothly, and don’t stress too much about dead­lines; your loyal readers will wait for you! ;-D

  12. brenden11 says:

    Sounds like a summer with nature deciding to inter­fere with your life. You don’t realize how impor­tant some things are until you lose them or they get injured and you still have to use them. Toes/feet, fingers and your back are a good example of this. Try doing anything when one of these don’t work right.
    I know we are all desper­ately waiting on your next book because that’s what we do. Be well and know that we are patiently waiting. If you need any assis­tance with wasp geno­cide don’t forget to ask, we all are willing to help

  13. Jess says:

    I am sorry for your toes, I broke my big toes a year apart and I felt your pain. It’s ridicu­lous how such a small part of your body can give off such pain! Give your­self time to be human, we all procras­ti­nate ourselves into circles at times. You have many books behind you and I’m sure you can get through those in front of you. I read the first chapter of Cast in Honor and I thought it was awesome. You can get through this!

  14. Danita Lee says:

    Just finished another reread of Cast in Flame. The work you do with so many layers and shades in your writing is amazing to me. It is always worth the wait.
    The wait however is not easy. Jess, can you tell me where you found the first Chapter of Cast in Honor? If it is publicly view­able. Please feel free to PM me.
    Regards,
    Danita
    aliciadev@​aol.​com

  15. Agustin says:

    MIchelle, jia you! Just remember to take some rest and distress out of your system some­times. Stress blocks creativity, sure enough. <> We’ll wait patiently for your books; just blog in a bit more frequent so we know that you’re alive and going. The absence of your update was longer than usual this time and it worried me. Good to hear that you’re still going despite the eventful summer. A big jia you and cheer on for you! ^^

    Agus­tine

  16. Jess says:

    I thought I read it a few months ago, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere. I think maybe I was mistaken, sorry about that.

    Jess

  17. Mary says:

    I was so glad to see your post this morning. I was worried as you usually posted more often in the past. I am sorry you have been having so many prob­lems phys­i­cally and with your writing. I love your books and look forward to the next but can re-read a series (Sun Sword or Hunt Brothers ) to hold on til Cast in Honor is avail­able. I will be praying for you and hope the fall is better. In my life the bad makes me appre­ciate all the good things.

  18. danita says:

    Since she posted about reading chapter 1, I thought maybe it was out some­where. Thank you for taking the time to look Jess. Much appre­ci­ated. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the offi­cial first chapter posting.
    Danita

  19. Donna. says:

    Michelle, I hope you are feeling much better now and your toe has mended well enough for shoes. I am looking forward to your upcoming books but do not want you to be suffering so much to get them done. We readers will be here when they are.

  20. kat1e says:

    I don’t know if this would help … and I’m likely presuming too much to make a sugges­tion to an author when I’m no author myself .… but some­times when I’m having a horrible time working out how to get a partic­ular section (just work­place writing) expressed effec­tively I might make a note or two of some disparate thoughts I’ve had on that partic­ular part, perhaps sketch an outline, and then I dump it to one side so as to move on to another section that is much easier to bang down and get out of the way. Come back to that diffi­cult section later and if I still can’t quite artic­u­late it how I’d like, make a few more notes, move on again to another part. Rinse and repeat.

    Once I have a number of thoughts noted down, and have the other easier parts banged out on the page I find it much easier to complete the section I had diffi­culty with because I now have those other easier, completed sections to slot it between, and those disparate thoughts as threads to weave it into the whole.

    It’s kind of like allowing the various ‘ingre­di­ents’ of that partic­ular passage time to ferment together.

    Hope this was helpful and not overly presump­tive of me.

    Alter­na­tively — printing off a copy, folding it into airplane, and throwing it violently at my computer from a metre or two away is also very ther­a­peutic. But only when most other staff have already gone home and I’m the only person left on my floor . Witnesses to this action tend to lead to the manager discreetly placing the contact details for the Employee Assis­tance Program on my desk, so it’s prefer­able to avoid them.
    =================================
    Also .… pepper­mint tea. Very refreshing for the mind. Or I find it so, at least. Although admit­tedly I tend to put a lot of sugar in my teas, and perhaps without the sugar load it’s prob­ably not as reju­ve­nating as I think it to be : )
    =================================
    You mention above a reading of chapter one of Cast in Honor (I’m presuming to an audi­ence).

    Might we … possibly … hope­fully … get a peak?

    Pretty please?

    Mind you, I’m just an Elantra junkie who’s jonesing for a fix pre-release. Some­thing to tide me over til I can get a full hit :D

    I’d ask if you were “looking for a good time honey?” if it would increase the like­li­hood of a pre-release teaser, but honestly, me in fish­nets … not a good picture.

  21. kat1e says:

    You know what … it was stupid of me to make that stupid. Don’t bother reading the first 3 para­graphs. :D

    But seri­ously — pepper­mint tea is some good shit maaaaaan.

  22. kat1e says:

    …and deeper down that rabbit hole I go

    stupid of me to make that *sugges­tion*”

    ie should have put “sugges­tion” in place of the second “stupid”.

  23. kat1e says:

    HOW THE HELL DOSTOP THIS SPIRALLING DOWN OF COMMENTING ON MY PREVIOUS COMMENTS????

    …It’s entirely possible I’ve over­dosed on pepper­mint tea.…

  24. Kick says:

    I suspect we would all love to hear from you when you’re having prob­lems. Afterall, no one really wants to be around perfect people. We like to know that other people struggle too. That other people have periods where nothing is right and have to keep going other­wise. It makes you human and acces­sible. I’d rather hear from someone who is strug­gling than someone who has it all together.

    BUT.… there are people who are happy to show their process to the world and other people who only want to show the final product after the struggle is finished. You strike me as the latter sort of person. I know I am.

    SO.… we always long to hear from you. Any post would be appre­ci­ated. BUT at the same time, we under­stand it is not your way, so it is OK. (unin­ten­tional rhyme there)

    the little person in me, though, still says: just send me all the little scraps of writing you are throwing out. It is very hard being addicted to your writing and the beauty of your worlds because I always want MORE MORE MORE!

    I hope your fall is better than your summer. I’m also looking forward to you finishing GRAVE because it’s getting in the way of the ending of WAR and what­ever you’re currently calling the next arc of the story. I have specific suspi­cions about plots and char­ac­ters and it is driving me crazy not knowing!

  25. A. Williams says:

    I under­stand your terror with the wasp. I had the joy once (read: very not joy) of watching a yellow jacket free its head from being stuck in my jacket button before walking up and into my jacket to sting me. To this day I have no idea how it got its head stuck in a snap-button.

    I am ecstatic for the upcoming release of Cast in Honor! The cover alone gave me chills. The only possible way to wait now is to re-read all of its prede­ces­sors in prepa­ra­tion for its release.

    Take care of your­self, and I hope (as others have mentioned) that you have a delightful and produc­tive end of year!

  26. Lydia says:

    Michelle,
    To echo someone before me, take care of your­self and every­thing will follow! I hope every­thing (stability, feet, wasp geno­cide) improves and that you have a wonderful rest of the year. Of course I am eagerly awaiting Cast in Honor, but I know you need to be in a good place first. Thank you for your beau­tiful books!

  27. Crystal says:

    Thanks for the update Michelle. Having done almost nothing else in my free time since discov­ering Elantra, I’m sending prayers to the universe that they keep your bad days to a minimum ;-) I’m addicted to Kaylin. If you ever need *another* Aussie proof­reader…

    PS Re the toes, having recent damage myself, have you ever heard of huaraches and bare­foot shoes? Check out xero shoes, and some of the vari­a­tions that don’t involve the toes at all.

    PPS Down with wasps. Can I add hornets to the list? I had a helpful passenger behind me on the bus once try to swat one on my back, starting it on a personal vendetta against me. I didn’t win.

  28. Michelle… I never mind waiting for your books, they are so wonderful! I prefer the wait over an rush job. And espe­cially your House series is so intri­cate… it’s a master­piece. I have no idea how you keep every­thing straight and weave the characters/events together so perfectly. Today I am wondering what happened to the child of Cynthia of Maubreche and Stephen/Breodin.

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