I won’t lie—it’s been a tough few years. Recently, in the middle of a novel I have to finish soonish, and procrastinating over a short story and a novella which I should’ve already finished by now, I’ve realized that the working writers were right, all through 2020 (and all over Twitter)—doing a creative business in the middle of a pandemic is hard. Not impossible—but way, way harder than my enthusiastic, too-optimistic, recently-turned-publisher self could’ve predicted. Creative work is both work and creative, and no matter what literature history would’ve liked us to believe, relaxed and happy goes hand in hand with creative, much better than worrying and tired. (So, so tired.)
But I’m willing to take up the fight once more, and finish the damn novel, at the very least, because I’m ready to go on with my life. And this very day, talking to a couple of my writing friends (sure… we were whining, mostly about things which are out of our collective control), I was once again reminded of one of the many reasons I do this writing gig—if not one of the main reasons.
The title has probably spoiled this one for you—it’s the why. It’s because there is nobody else in the whole county, and country, and probably region, and possibly continent (oh, the joys of a tiny niche) who’s doing what I’m doing in my current series. As far as I can tell, there is nobody in the region who writes (alt)historical sapphics at all, especially not those rooted in tangible local history. (There’s only a handful of us who write any kind of sapphics, actually, around here.) And somebody’s gotta effin do it.
On the publishing side, aside from my partner in (creative) crime and the occasional oneshot novelist and international fandom anthology, I’m honestly not sure if there’s anybody around here who’s editing and helping publish local speculative fiction in English.
And somebody’s gotta do it.
Just as somebody’s gotta write the things I, or you—we—want to write. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again—there is nobody else. It’s our story, our idea, our execution, our creative endeavor (and even more creatively bitten nails and/or coffee overdose, or whatever your poison is).
It’s, after all, our why. Why tell the story in our brain? Why put our favorite local mysteries onto the page? Why play around in local history and make something perfectly new, and perfectly wild? Why not let others share in the wonders that we live with, day in, day out, from the other side of the globe?
So I don’t particularly care how hard the past year has been, nor the one before. I don’t care how long I’ve procrastinated over the current, cursed novel, nor how many deadlines I’ve missed. I don’t care that 2022 hasn’t started nearly as smoothly as I’d hoped it would, not that finishing a series has turned harder than I’d thought it would.
I don’t care, after all, that I’ve found new and exciting ways to procrastinate.
The only thing I care about is the why—and, from now on, I’m going to try to remember that, sometimes, the why has to be enough.
What’s your why?