Saturday, September 13, 2014

Where Authors Go

Winds of Winter, coming....????
Several years ago, Neil Gaiman wrote (a now famed) blog post in which he uttered the phrase, “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.” The post was targeted at Martin fans who were complaining online that Martin owed it to them to hurry-up and finish his A Song of Ice and Fire series. Gaiman’s message was loud and clear: Martin is entitled to go about his life however he pleases and doesn't owe readers anything. As Gaiman elucidated in his blog, authors are people too, each with her or his own writing process.

And sometimes life gets in the way…

Between my own recent experiences, and the authors in the field I've spoken to, I know that Gaiman is absolutely correct—sometimes life simply gets in the way of writing. Acclaimed science fiction author Bruce McAllister, whom I interviewed for Black Gate magazine earlier this year, is an extreme example. He was unable to write for ten years because of a misdiagnosed illness (but thankfully is back with a vengeance!). For steampunk progenitor James P. Blaylock, teaching creative writing at Chapman University and directing the creative writing conservatory at the Orange County School of Arts  (OCSA) left little time (and creative energy) for writing new books; his recent streak of productivity is attributable, at least in part, to retiring from his post at OCSA and taking a semester-long sabbatical at Chapman.

And what’s my excuse? Why the two-month disappearance from Prose & Cons? Why did I solicit volunteer beta readers on Facebook for my sequel to Dreamwielder back in early August and then fail to get the manuscript to them? The answer isn't exciting.

Authors, just like anyone else, fall victim to life’s unexpected turns.

Sometimes, just when you think you've got it all figured out, the simple move into a new rental place you planned turns out to not be so simple after all. No one is willing to rent a place to a person with two huge dogs, even if they are gentle giants, and when you do find a place, it will be tiny, meaning you have to get rid of half your earthly possessions, and it turns out you’re more of a hoarder than you thought. Sometimes the “part-time” summer teaching work you pick up turns out to be a 60-hour/week affair, and on top of the move, you haven’t taken a day off in three months, and your right eye is perpetually bloodshot, twitching, probably with some sort of zombie virus. Sometimes on top of all this—on top of the security deposits for the new place and the moving costs—one of your dogs will break a molar and require surgery to extract the tooth, and your fiancĂ©’s cat will get plugged up like a cement mixer and require expensive laxatives, and your car will inexplicably spring a water leak in the cast aluminum throttle body, and all that extra money you thought you were making is gone before you have it. And sometimes, all the work, all the bullshit fate throws at you, doesn't make you upset, because you know next month you’ll be getting married to someone who makes it all worth while.

It’s nothing to complain about. It’s simply life, but damn if it doesn’t make it finishing a book that is already 99.9% done hard.

On one hand, I’m nowhere on the same scale as Neil Gaiman or George R.R. Martin, but on the other hand, it’s encouraging to know I’m very much on the same scale, because just like them—just like everyone reading this blog post—I’m human too.



Garrett Calcaterra is an author of dark speculative fiction. His newest book, Dreamwielder, is an epic fantasy novel from Diversion Books. He is currently working on the sequel to Dreamwielder and an unrelated sci-fi novel. Learn more at www.garrettcalcaterra.com


8 comments :

Peter Hogenkamp said...

Garrett, cat laxatives and zombie viruses? Things are bound to turn for the better. Thanks for the post! peter

Sue Coletta said...

Congrats on your upcoming nuptials, Garrett. I hear yeah. Man, do I hear yeah. I just had another $400. visit to the vet. What are you gonna do? They're family.

Susan Clayton-Goldner said...

This blog resonated with me, Garrett, because I'm flat on my back after having surgery for a ruptured disk that was pressing on the sciatic nerve. I suffered with it (barely able to move) for 3 weeks before the surgery and now 5 days post surgery I'm feeling guilty that I'm not writing. Of course, I feel guilty sometimes when I am writing--neglecting family and friends. It's a no win. But it's what we do. Congrats on the upcoming marriage.

Eliza Cross said...

I so appreciate your message and positive outlook. We all do the best we can, and I wish you some unexpected gifts of writing time as you navigate these many transitions. Congratulations on your marriage next month, too--that's the best news!

Garrett Calcaterra said...

Thanks, Peter!

Garrett Calcaterra said...

Thanks, Sue. I hope my next book sells well, because my animals aren't getting any younger. The dogs are 12 and 10, one with a thyroid condition, one with allergies, and the cat is 15 with an enlarged heart and partially blind. I predict many more vet visits in my future. Here's to good health for humans and pets all!

Garrett Calcaterra said...

Thank you, Susan. I hope you're feeling better. I feel exactly the same in that I'm torn between responsibilities. Alas, it's just part of being a writer.

Garrett Calcaterra said...

Thanks, Eliza!