Cleaning House (in Advance of Getting Back to Blogging)

*cracks shoulders and settles in*

This blog has always been on again/off again consistent, but generally I like to put something up every couple of weeks or so. That schedule fell apart last year, and then harder still this year.

There was a lot I planned to put up/write since the start of this year — a post about my own writing/sales over the last couple years, a recommended reading list for 2018 work, and a whole host of reviews. All of which are still things I plan to do, but when I break down what I need to work on during a year, paid (or with potential to pay) work always comes first, so the blog is usually the thing that falls by the wayside.

And 2019 has been a year of a lot of work, paid and unpaid, on various fronts. So far in 2019 I:

  • Wrote a 30k tie-in novella to be published later this year.
  • Am writing another 30k novella to follow up on the other.
  • Finally finished a novel that’s been coming together in bits and pieces over the last few years while I wrote other novels in far shorter time. This one is a fair bit more complicated than a lot of other novels I’ve written, and you may have an inkling of why if you’ve read any of the Titan and Serpent stories published so far — which are components of said novel.
  • Wrote several shorter tie-in pieces for as-yet-unannounced projects (listing for some of which are up on the Bibliography page and I’ll update those/post about them once those projects are announced).
  • Did some non-profit/corporate freelance earlier in the first quarter of the year.
  • Put together (with my co-editors) Anathema‘s seventh issue.
  • Am currently putting together (with my co-editors) Anathema‘s eighth issue for release in August.
  • Proofed/edited … uh … a lot of books?

Honestly, that last point has been what takes up the majority of my time. I don’t remember exactly how many books I edited this year alone, though I was running some numbers when the year hit the halfway mark, and by that point I’d edited 116 (118? I can’t recall off the top of my head) titles in some capacity over the last two years and change. 96 of those alone were proofs for Harlequin before I walked away from freelancing for them. Partly because of burnout on turnaround, and partly because a lot of those proofs were also ending up sensitivity reads and wow was I not getting paid enough for that.

I have … thoughts … on this front that NDAs with a couple of publishers mean I can’t talk about directly. But other thoughts aside, whatever you think the general rates are for proofing in the industry, I guarantee you they’re not as good as you’re imagining — with exceptions, because there are multiple publishers who pay extremely well for external editing services. Though at this point, I’ve been getting significantly better rates working on TTRPG edits.

Publishing is an amazing industry to work in — not counting those (many) moments in which you want to set fire to it because of the white supremacy that undergirds so much of it — but honest to god I wish publishing made it easier to make a living doing this. (The eternal gripe from all those of us who work in the field, on all sides of it.)

2019 has been a year of watching a great many people online talk (rightly) about how we need to decouple the work we love from how we make our living — in part if not in whole. Not least of all because it makes it impossible to enjoy the thing you create because it is now an imperative rather than fulfilling.

It’s not exactly revolutionary to note that as creators, we have to fill the well in order to draw from it. And we cannot do so if we never give ourselves time to replenish our resources. But so many of us forget…

For my own part, I’ve been doing far less reading because for so long reading has been specifically paid work for me, and I’ve lost my capacity to enjoy it in casual terms because I’m constantly finding myself asking “But how can I monetize this?” (Yay for burnout and living in a capitalist hellscape.)

Part of the answer for me has been turning back to games as a way of interacting or engaging with storytelling — a necessary shift in framework and medium — both as a player and a creator. I’ve always preferred storytelling and narrative in gaming, so a lot of what I’ve been engaging with has been focused on visual/text/longform storytelling over other aspects of gaming. And I may yet end up talking about some of the things I’ve been playing as part of the blogging I hope to get back to.

GMing a TTRPG campaign has also been a way to get back into a creative mindset after hitting burnout hard this year. Partly, I think, because of the collaborative process that is building a campaign and having people engage in and explore and better the world you are building through their interactions with it. That sense of play and engagement is highly invigorating. Especially when playing with slightly different narrative format (for me) by approaching building that campaign as a couple of seasons of content broken down like a TV series, with respective beats and narrative arcs.

It also helps, it turns out, to have a player base largely comprised of other creatives/writers/artists. It’s a very different experience from past GMing I’ve done — especially since I haven’t GMed in years and I’m a much better storyteller now than I was when I was last doing this.

Sure, technically, it’s taken time away from … um … other things I’m supposed to be doing. But you know what’s fucking great? Giving yourself permission to sit down and just create without thinking about how or where you’re going to sell it. Whether what you’re making is just for you, and/or for other people who want to be part of the story you’re all building together.

It’s fantastic to just be able to fill the well, even while drawing some of that water as needed.

And on that note I’m out for now. And hopefully back in a few weeks to get this blog back on track again.

In the meantime, all of you be well, and may you find whatever gives you joy. :)

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