In my last post I updated you on my work schedule. None of that will be possible unless I change a few things.
Those of us from traditionally marginalised groups often find ourselves doing unpaid advocacy and emotional labour for the greater good. One major distraction I had not reckoned on when I signed the contract for Menewood was my new commitment to disability-related issues. I’ve spent inordinate amounts of time doing informal (that is, unpaid and unacknowledged) policy work with various institutions, organisations, and nonprofits. On top of that, one-on-ones with many writers, disabled and nondisabled, about reviewing; about writing disabled characters. It’s been my pleasure and privilege but it ends up as countless hours spent making others’ novels and memoirs better or more marketable. I don’t begrudge an hour of that time—I was happy to do it—but I can feel that well of willingness to sacrifice my time, energy, and focus running dry.
So for the foreseeable future I’ll be declining. And rather than spending time explaining why, I’ll probably just ignore your email. I’ll always have time for friends and family, but other things? No.
More granularly, for the remainder of the year I’ll be turning down requests and invitations–of all kinds.
For the first half of 2020 I’ll be turning down invitations to speak, to teach, to contribute, to blurb, and to meet-strangers-for-coffee-so-you-can-pick-my-brains. Those events I have already scheduled for 2020 I will honour (and at some point I’ll update the Appearances page) but I won’t be adding to them. In the last few months of 2020, assuming Menewood is done, and depending on how interesting the requests are, I might accept invitations to contribute short pieces—but they’ll have to be astonishingly interesting projects and extremely well paid.
As for 2021, I already have a couple of things scheduled, and then I’ll be dedicated to pre-publication for both Menewood and the Aud novels (including writing new fiction, and prepping and performing the audio narration).
I’m not turning into a hermit. I’ll still be going out for dinner and drinks and wonderful conversations with friends, still posting cat pictures on social media. I’ll still go to the park, a film, a splendid exhibition (I really want to visit the new incarnation of the Burke museum but just haven’t had time). I’m planning on a lovely getaway with my sweetie at the end of the year. What I won’t be doing is allowing anything but personal stuff to distract me from my fiction, for at least a year. Essentially, I need to free up time and bandwidth to find the still, quiet place from which all good work springs.
Once again, here’s Meghan Trainor to help you understand:
My name is No.
My sign is No.
My number is No.
You need to let it go.
Nah to the ah to the no no no.
Hat tip to Angie Bennett, a medievalist.