AKA “When’s that book coming?” Fall ’14 Edition and “Why the hell aren’t you online anymore, Skyla?”
So I’m not dead yet, despite recent appearances to the contrary.
I’m sick and I can’t be fixed, though. Which wasn’t really the outcome I was hoping for, since I already have a chronic illness called being bipolar that takes up a lot of my energy.
Thankfully after nearly six months, one nurse practitioner calling me crazy, one internist implying I was wasting his time, one fill-in doctor whose hands were tied, a wonderful surgeon, my own badass primary care physician, and my rockstar mum advocating for me, I finally have drugs to hopefully put me in remission and a referral to a specialist who will help me not get sick and lose sixty-five pounds again.
Of course I’m not stupid and know all of the steps that contributed to developing a chronic illness–while I don’t have the usual risk factors for this autoimmune disease and was extremely healthy when it developed, I have stress. Lots of stress. I’m wound very tight and I try to do everything and work miracles for people and worry about rent and volunteer and think about my pets being sick and don’t ask for help and constantly feel like the sky is falling and it’s going to kill me at some point. Like probably literally.
So my primary concern for the next forever is prioritizing my own health over everything (except probably my pets because I’m still me).
I’ve already taken a big break from social networking because I haven’t been well enough to sit at the laptop all day (and also because I can’t listen to people talking about dieting while I’m basically starving to death) but now it’s a mental health concern; I simply can’t do this always online thing. I’m overly sensitive and get easily overwhelmed by bad news; I get exhausted by the constant drama in publishing; I get anxious trying to keep up with everyone. Now, Facebook I hate to begin with, so I’ll just continue to avoid it; Twitter, I adore, but I’m going to have set daily limits. Pinterest isn’t bad because I don’t have to talk to anyone. I’ve already deleted GoodReads from my bookmarks because it’s too tempting to look and see who hates and has pirated my books today while updating what I’ve read.
Basically, if you want to talk to me, send me an email.
Of course, that’s the next area: I’m having set times for email-answering and that’s it. It’s distracting when I try to work and I can’t do this available 24/7 thing. Email if you like, so long as you’re not fucking creepy, and I’ll hit you back when I can.
Also, if you’re asking me to do something for you and you’re not going to pay me well for it, my answer is “no”. I’m practicing that. I have a medical reason now to be a selfish bitch so no no no no no noooooo.
No. (I’m getting the hang of it.)
Now, since this is my blog, and I’m a writer, and I have readers, here’s that update: this means I don’t even know wtf for books.
Being sick for a long time with no answers, it’s really easy to assume the worst, especially when I have NEVER been sick like this in my entire life. And while I try not to worry because worry is completely useless when it’s over something out of my hands, periodically out of nowhere an uncontrollable fear vortex would start and sweep me up in it. Everyone and their mother was telling me I had lupus. Strangers were remarking on how sick I looked. A lot of my symptoms were similar to misdiagnosed women who ultimately had ovarian cancer so there was lots of OH GOD WHAT IF I’M DYING.
Like I could feel the hard plastic of the chair in the doctor’s office, smell the recycled and vaguely antiseptic air, and see the doctor’s steady gaze as this bad news was delivered–in my very overactive brain–and I kept thinking but I have stories. Thinking about my worst case scenario, THAT was my overwhelming concern.
I have stories to tell. They call to me and need my focus. And I know I could live sixty years, six years, or six weeks, and I will still die with more stories to tell, and that thought is more upsetting than anything else I could face.
But I’m not dying yet.
It’s a very weird place to be in, with your gut telling you to be happy but knowing happy = starving. I have to pay bills and every month I’m one emergency away from not being able to pay rent. It would be nice to be in a privileged position where I could say fuck everything, I’m going to spend all my time writing the stories I love, but my reality is that following one’s bliss isn’t an option if that bliss doesn’t put food on the table. If you’ve never been in it, poverty is a really ugly cycle that seems designed to keep you in its clutches.
My urban fantasy doesn’t provide me enough money for the time spent on it. This causes me a lot of stress and worry. The re-release of River, which I put a tremendous amount of work into rewriting and promoting (while I was very sick and in a lot of pain), has sold 32 copies*. That is far below what even the re-released Demons of Oblivion books sold their first few months last year and River has traditionally been WAY more popular than those books, so I dunno. And that’s okay–I put out a book and if people don’t want to buy it, that’s disheartening but understandable. No one is entitled to money simply for writing a book, myself included.
But this is why I have to say I have no idea what next year will bring given that I really have to consider my health now. Because publishing sucks the fun out of the whole thing and stresses me out, and e-serials don’t generate any income. As much as I want to get the rewrite of Wolfe done and released, and Oblivion written and released–all in a timely fashion–or release something fun just for fans, I also can’t put myself in another situation where I can’t afford groceries and get stressed out and get sick like last spring. And I’d rather be honest about this when I know people are looking for updates than throw out another vague “stuff and things going on, I dunno, be patient *hand-wave distraction*”.
So when is the next book coming out? No fucking clue. Either I wait until I have money saved up so I can cut back on paying work, I wait until I want to finish these projects for my own pleasure and can squeeze in the time, or…wait until the money fairy comes, I guess? (And my experience has been there’s a hook in the bait when a money fairy does offer.)
I am exploring options as to how to make writing UF/non-romance more sustainable for me because you there reading this who loves my books, I love you right back, I appreciate you, and I do want to find a way to bring more stories to you–but right now that kind of problem solving is stressful and so it’s not priority. Paying bills, staying calm, and writing pleasure projects is priority.
I need rest and I need to not think about publishing.
I’m really tired of worrying and feeling guilty about it. So books will release when they release. The sky is not going to fall. I’m not going to feel bad or pressured about this. I love when you tell me you’ve enjoyed my work but please don’t email me with demands to hurry up. I promise I will tell everyone when a book is coming out.
Don’t expect news until next year, when I’ve been in remission for a while.
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Gonna go practice my zen now.
* I included that exact number because there is so much mystery and vagueness around publishing and books, and I imagine “How low can sales REALLY be?” probably comes up. Well, folks–including the pirates always hitting my site wanting freebies–that’s the reality. I came from small press where there was little support, I now self-pub my backlist, and the number I gave is not unique to me. There have been thousands of illegal downloads and a handful of sales. It should be clear why I’m not eager to put out another book right now.