I don’t suffer from triskaidekaphobia. Mind you, the main reason I don’t suffer from it is that normally I’m too spacey to count things or remember what day it is, otherwise I probably would. This is because, as a writer, I have every superstition ever created, and invent a few new ones every so often, just to keep in practice. This is the logical result of (at least on the traditional side) my not being able to see direct result from my efforts. (This is not a criticism of my publisher, it’s the nature of the beast, which reports about a year after the fact, so I don’t know what publicity worked, etc. Also I have little control over things like covers and distribution which are almost as important as the quality of the writing for how well a book does.) It is apparently a normal affliction of writers. Anyway, so I don’t suffer from a morbid fear of the number 13 which is a good thing because this has generally speaking been a horrible year.
It hasn’t been anything big and easy to point to, though, so that I can say “I’m sorry, I caught the gnats, so I’m going to take the rest of the year off and crawl into bed for a three-month sleep.”
Instead, as has happened a couple of times before, this year became a never ending circle of working for a few days, getting too ill to work, rinse, repeat.
Fortunately too, we’ve identified (I think) most of the problems. One of them has been bedevilling us for seven years or so, and I need to get it permanently fixed, but even partly fixed has shown me that the intake vent in the basement was a bad, bad idea. Closing that seems to have cut down on the level of respiratory issues, though, of course, after years of irritation my respiratory system is fragile.
We also found that writing weekends away help. Mind you, this is expensive, and so we had two the whole year. But I found I can do in two days the work that normally takes me a week or more. This is proof that part of what is slowing me down (and possibly getting me sick) is doing too much at the same time.
Which led me to examine how much I was doing, and it really is a case of the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was fully busy with my traditional career (average 4 books a year) then I got the indie stuff which is work of a different kind, at least for now (I’m mostly putting up back list, for now, which only involves some editing, not actual writing. In fact, what’s holding up what I call the “Darkship cycle” in short stories is the need to rewrite a lot of them since they’re almost 20 years old.) They involve learning to do covers, learning to format text, the intricacies of the various outlets, etc. It’s fascinating, and, in a way, fun, but at the same time, it both EATS time and seems to “feed” from the creative side (as do art and cooking.)
Then I’m doing articles for PJM. I feel awful for having deserted Classical Values this year, but I REALLY couldn’t find the time. But I do articles for PJM and I started the year by trying to do a blog tour (that collapsed fairly quickly because I JUST couldn’t, but still I must have written around 20k in that.)
Then there are short stories, some for Baen anthologies and some because to be blunt when you get to my point in my career, you owe favors. So… I was writing five thousand words on a SLOW day before I sit down to “write” real stuff.
The end result was that around September the whole thing shut down and I didn’t feel like writing at all. My contributions to PJM were almost impossible to keep up (and I ended up with a lot fewer) and even this blog was an effort.
As you know, I’ve made plans to offload a bunch of that work. There will be a guest post (fixed) once a week, and some weeks there will be two. Saturdays will be “Blast from the past” posts as well as promo posts, which Free Range Oyster is compiling for me. Sunday (other than today) will be a link fest of sorts. That leaves me three posts and two chapters which most of the time I SHOULD be able to finish on Sunday evening. Or at least it’s doable. And that will take the pressure off the rest of the week.
Of course, early this coming year, there will a load of unrelated work, because we MUST get this house ready for staging for sale. We also must find somewhere to rent while selling because (to be blunt) you can’t sell a house with four cats living in it. I’d like to say that will be easy, but it won’t. Right after we moved here, I got on the four/six book a year schedule, which means we haven’t even FULLY unpacked, EVER. So… there’s a ton of stuff to go through/get rid of. There’s walls to paint. There’s stuff to decide to put in storage… It goes on.
And meanwhile I still owe Baen two books — half written — which I need to finish ASAP. And then I’ve promised fans the sixth musketeer mystery (and some of them are bugging me already.) And there’s stuff I WANT to do for indie.
It would help if external crisis avoid us this year. Part of what made 2013 hideous was that we were in uncertainty about Dan’s job for most of it. As a cashier told me yesterday “These days those of us employed are in living fear of losing our jobs, because we all have friends who’ve been unemployed for years and years.” That — knock on wood — barring some unforeseen event of the kind that gets us all in trouble, seems to be safe for the next year. Just the stress off my mind will probably help with health, too.
I’d also prefer — I’d like to say I very much wish — my friends try to stay healthy through 2014. If you could? It would be a great favor to me.
And now, I’m going to shut up, go take a shower and work on Through Fire.
I will have a post from one of the people I’m bringing in as permanent rotating guests (aka the raiding party) tomorrow. I’ll have a “compilation” of links about the year for Tuesday and some sort of “resolutions” (AH) on New Year’s.
The chapters will resume first week of January. Meanwhile, go pet your cats or something. Years ending in 13 are very hard on cats (everyone knows that.) So, go do what you can.