When I started writing this post, I was thinking in terms of writing. I had just finished reading the excellent column by Tom McAllister Who Will Buy Your Book? * and it struck a chord. I just sent out what I believe is my 20th query for one of my books, and it’s really hard to stay optimistic. As a teacher, I get most of my writing and subbing done in the summer. I have seven short stories out on sub right now. Waiting is hard. But at least I DO have stories out. Last summer was a complete loss — I was deep in the covid shadow and got almost nothing done. I think I sent out four subs in all of 2020.
However, in thinking about 2020, I also started thinking about persevering in general. I became a grandmother in 2020! it was a Bright Spot. Another bright spot (lower case) was transferring to the alternative school. When my district decided they needed to rearrange us because of covid, I agreed to the change, and I’m really glad I did. Those two things, (plus being home with my husband) made 2020 bearable in all its apocalyptic horribleness.
But the blues have hit harder in the last year and a half than they have since my divorce. I take an anti-depressant (yes, I’ve read the articles about how chemical imbalances in the brain are not the cause of depression – leave me alone, it works for me), and I did all the Things which help me cope. I exercised. I ate the good food my husband fixed. I read books by authors I love. (Nancy Kress, Deanna Raybourn, Gail Carriger, Tamsin Muir, Katherine Addison, Becky Chambers, Alix Harrow) I survived, and I continue to survive.
I just attended (by Zoom) the Cascade Writers Workshop, and the encouragement from other writers got me to send out my first query this summer. How do I keep going? I believe in my books. I’ve been working on all of them, on and off, for years. All my new writing is short. Living in a world that reminds me so strongly of Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower makes it impossible for me to write long.
Ultimately, it helps me cope when I write and when I read, and I can’t help but think that somewhere there is someone who would be helped by reading what I write. So I will keep going, in fits and starts (as my mother used to say), because I need to do this for me. And just possibly I need to do this for you.
- Note: Yes, I put McAllister’s How to be Safe on hold at the library. When I read the description — it’s about a high school English teacher who is briefly suspected of being a school shooter — I was surprised that I hadn’t already heard of it!