And I was initially very productive in lockdown. Not creative. Well, I did learn to use BookBrush and I did make a bunch of book trailers. Not much writing happened, but a lot of other catching up on stuff did. I dealt with some of the audio, print, translation, and marketing chores that have been hanging over me forever. That felt great. That felt like I was moving forward even though I was worried and uncertain about the future.
But now... It's been just about three months since I last published anything. Secret at Skull House came out at the end of April, and since then I've written a little here and there. I started Mystery at the Masquerade, I started a short story, I'm working on the outline for Haunted Heart: Spring, I've done a couple of codas for Patreon. Obviously, it's not the year any of us planned on, but does it have to be a full-blown crash-and-burn disaster?
I mean, there's still half a year to go, and there's no reason I can't pull myself together but...
73,000 NEW CORONA VIRUS CASES REPORTED YESTERDAY. I mean... Seventy-three THOUSAND???? What. The. Hell.
And that's not even the scariest news of the day. I mean, just a glance at the headlines on the political front are enough to suck the breath out of my lungs. (Which is not to say I don't do plenty of yelling about it--just ask the SO.)
But really, as worrying as all that is, I've been writing through the last three years. I don't see why I can't write through this.
And some good things have happened. I got to see my family (finally) at our socially distanced 4th of July celebration. Our taxes are done (the bleeding has nearly stopped). The dogs have their shots and vaccinations for the rest of the year. We're having socially distanced dinner and cocktails with my sister's family tonight. We're figuring it out. We're navigating uncharted waters. We're okay. I'm okay.
I just have to begin writing again.
But so far, not so good. I've had to once more push Haunted Heart: Spring back. I've seen a few comments wherein irate readers say I should just cancel the book. Why? No, seriously. WHY? I still plan on writing the book. I still want to finish Flynn's story. Why would I cancel the book simply because some petulant petunia is disappointed it didn't arrive when originally promised? As a reader who has also endured having to wait for books I really wanted to read, I far prefer to get the book later than expected than learn it's been canceled for good. Like, I still hope that maybe, maybe someday Poppy Z. Brite will return to the world of John Rickey and G-man Stubbs, as unlikely as I know that is.
Should the day come that I realize I no longer have any stories in me, then that's another thing. I'm not there yet. Not even close. In fact, I was brushing my teeth this morning and I realized Sam and Jason dialog was running through my brain. That's a really good sign. That's something that hasn't been happening for a few weeks.
So, yes. I'm struggling to find the words and books are running late. But the words haven't vanished. Thank God. If I could snap out of it on cue, I would. But I can't. I have to work my way back to where I was. My plan is to play around with some Patreon stuff and hope that shakes loose a little more creativity, and then I'll tackle something small. Probably a short story--probably the short story I started and then abandoned last month. Or maybe not. I just don't know. This is something new for me. It's not exactly burn-out, but it might as well be.
One word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time. This is the advice I've always given, and I know it works. So that's the plan. I'll keep you posted.