Friday, July 8, 2016

A Blog Post

I find myself at a loss today.

I was going to try to avoid anything remotely political or even socio-political, and instead mention that I've put together a print collection of my historical novellas. Three of the novellas have previously been in print, but had been allowed to go OP. And the third, "This Rough Magic", has never been available in anything but digital.

I read an article recently in Publisher's Weekly about "digital fatigue" and the ongoing decline of ebook sales. I've never stopped loving and collecting print books, so I have no idea whether digital fatigue is a real thing or not. Clearly declining ebook sales are real and can be graphed, but they don't seem particularly relevant to me. My sales have stayed pretty steady -- there's just that little problem of not being able -- motivated-- to write.

I'm still not exactly sure what's going on there. Am I just giving into laziness now? Am I more burnt-out than I realized? Or is this a natural lull in my productivity? I don't know. There's really no one to consult.

Is it depression? Is it a product of the fear and anxiety the TV serves with my morning coffee? Yesterday yet another young black man was shot to death by police. And today comes the news that five police officers were shot to death by snipers. The world seems increasingly violent and irrational -- and going on Twitter sure as hell doesn't help.

The world has always been violent and unpredictable. You don't need to be a history major to know that much. And the world is always in flux. Some things get better, other things get worse...and there's no guarantee we won't blow ourselves and the planet up in the near future.

But really...that being the case, what are our options? We can go on Twitter and harass and blame each other for not caring enough or not expressing ourselves properly. We can perpetrate our own violence in the name of...what the fuck ever. We can tune out entirely.

Or we can continue to do the best we can with the resources we have.

We can try to practice the tolerance that we preach. We can stop jabbering on Twitter and try actually contacting our political representatives. We can focus on improving the space around us -- and leading by example. Not in a grandiose way, but in a simple treat-others-as-you-wish-to-be-treated way. Because if that actually ever could happen all across the world? All our problems would be solved.

Just treat the people around you the way you want to be treated.

Don't be so godawful stingy with your understanding, your forgiveness and your compassion. It's not like any of us are in a position to judge. (And anybody who thinks they are in a position to judge is a big part of the problem.)

Today I am focusing on what is right in the world. What is good.

1 - Law and Order (because anarchy doesn't work)

2 - Gardenias

3 - Mockingbirds

4 - Tacos

5 - Love

What do you have to say for yourself?


  1. I think you're right and the only way we can make the world a better place, aside from talking to our political representatives is to just be *nice* to people. Pay it forward or back or sideways, but either way be nice to be nice. (Rather than be nice to get something back.) It won't work on everyone; some people simply won't care. But sometimes a smile or a kind word can make all the difference to someone having a bad day or a negative moment.

    Re: the print vs digital - I'm space limited so I've bought more digital than paper the last couple of years or so but for favourite books/ authors I will invest in paper copies as well, if they exist. And recently I've been getting extra copies in audio format where they exist as well as I can bluetooth them from my phone to a speaker in the car/ bathroom/ kitchen and it's a great way to experience books I already love. (The Adrien English audio books are great; the narrator has Adrien and Jake down beautifully.) :-)

  2. I'm trying to focus on the positive too, sometimes it's hard because some people are so negative. But I'm doing my best, and if you do your best, and Sallie Sue does her best maybe we can change the world? Who knows. I got a brand new shower so that's what I'm positive about. And we quite accidently that the dog will hit the beach ball with her nose back into the pool when we throw it to her. I made myself sore playing with her. She never misses, I spend a lot of time chasing the ball around the pool. We both got a good workout. Life has it's sublime moments.

  3. I've been referring to whatever funk I've been in as writerly malaise. I don't think it's burnout, at least not in my case being that my addled brains kept me from working for almost a year solid. The prevailing fog of negativity is horrid, I tell you. Just horrid. Dragging everyone down.

    Anyhoo, I would like to suggest amending line item "tacos" to include burrito bowls. While on a trip, I had a chance to try Chipotle for the first time...OMG, mine are so much better. Also no risk of food poisoning, which is cool. ;-p

  4. I think e-books were a fad for a significant portion of the population, when they first came out, but a lot of us have settled into liking them better than paper books. I love the convenience and the lack of clutter.

    As for your lack of motivation to write, you posit three possible reasons: laziness, burn-out and depression. You have written over 30 books. I think you are too hard on yourself. Maybe it's just time for a break to re-charge and do something for yourself. As a fan, I hope you write again soon, but I hope you take care of your own needs first.

  5. Interesting that you put law and order (in preference to anarchy) up there, and then you reference social media - because social media *is* anarchy - I think that's why I endlessly struggle with it.

    Aside from that, you've basically described what I'm feeling just now and I see similar comments from others. I don't think this is an isolated thing. I think we are in a troubled period at the moment, but I also think that viewing it through the sheer chaos of social media is terribly unhealthy and terribly hard on us as individuals. Once upon a time, there was a limited amount of news you could consume, and what's more, there were gatekeepers on the news. Now things are very different, and yes, there are positives that come with that, but the sheer onslaught of endless desperately awful information, together with the endless hopeless commentary on it is completely overwhelming. The drip, drip, drip of sadness and terror... The truth is, we're not that complicated, us humans. If we keep pressing the 'sad' button, like rats in a lab, guess what happens?

    I think one of the difficulties is that we've all formed these online friendships and if we want to enjoy them, we have to come into this mêlée to do it, even when we know we probably need some time away. I mean, I would PREFER to just meet my online friends in the pub, I really would, but I can't.

    I hope you get over your writing difficulties though, because your words mean a lot to me. I listened to Cards on the Table last week and loved it all over again. The longing in there. The poignancy. I escaped from the all the horror, walking, listening. And it was important to me, that escape.

  6. I'm afraid I'm not a good role model, here. In the wake of the horrors splattered across the news headlines, I have elected to retreat. In fact, what brought me to your blog today was me looking for a old interview I read a while back. It made me happy.

    I'm re-listening to all the Adrien English books, one after another. It's my way of establishing order in the world. The one place I am assured resolution, redemption and a bit of snappy dialogue to boot.

    I should be out there being a responsible adult and doing what grown ups should do when the world threatens to go to crap, but I can't. I won't. I'll put that off for tomorrow.

    I never know what to say to writers when they are having a hard time writing. That you did it at all is tremendous to me. Thank you for writing the things you have. It's brought my immeasurable joy. It's been a welcome light during sometimes very dark days. Be well.

  7. You are so right, Josh. If everyone would begin to treat others as they would wish to be treated, the world would change overnight. It is as simple, and as ridiculously difficult, as that.

  8. Thanks for this post.

    I agree w/ you on all points but mockingbirds. Screeching outside my bedroom window at 1 a.m. is not what is good in my world.

    Gardenias, tacos, and love are though.

    In all seriousness, though: There is a reason I generally don't watch the news. There is just too much madness in this world. And the only thing we can do nice, and surround ourselves with good people.

  9. I am completely with you on law, and of course, love. I would add hummingbirds. They're fun to watch and soothing.

    In terms of writer's block, I recommend writing about anything that moves you now, rather than what you had planned, to find your way back. Maybe, it will be dark because of your worry about the political situation but that's okay. I would think you're a big enough name in the business to have this freedom.

    Also, when feeling political overload to the extent that it paralyzes you, you have to shut it down. Don't go online for a couple of weeks except maybe to the couple of places that make you happy, e.g.,"5 things I love" and avoid all news. This may re-charge you.

  10. I get the distinct impression that you do not have a mockingbird that sings outside your bedroom window at oh dark hundred.....then again, perhaps this is why you can not write.
    Butterflies are quieter.
    The rest of your list: Spot on.
    .....cream is is cheese....

  11. Right with you on the tacos.