I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about mental health and writing and publishing, but I really doubt anything I can say is going to be better than much of what’s been said by Anne Lamott.
All that I know about the relationship between publication and mental health was summed up in one line of the movie Cool Runnings, which is about the first Jamaican bobsled team…. The men on [the] team are desperate to win an Olympic medal…. But the coach says, “If you’re not enough before the gold medal, you won’t be enough with it.”
I’ve published two novellas and twenty-one short stories and I can testify to the truth of this really, really hard. I think I used to have this vague idea that publication would validate me, that it would make me happy and fulfilled and I would finally and at last stop feeling sort of inadequate and I would finally and at last stop feeling the need to prove myself to myself and to the world at large. And I really should have known better.
Publication does not fix that glaring personality flaw. It does not make you less lonely. It does not make you better understood. It does not make you more mentally healthy or less paranoid. If anything, it magnifies and intensifies all of your various issues in new and exciting ways. Only now you have a jones for the next acceptance, and the next, and the next. At least in my experience this is so: it’s never enough. You always want more.
That Rumpled Silk Sheets has apparently been nominated in the anthology category in the Preditors and Editors 2010 Readers’ Poll (yay!). If you picked up a copy and you liked it, I and my co-contributors would very much appreciate your vote.
Believe it or not, this is a question I’ve struggled with a bit. Well, maybe not struggled–that implies that I’ve got some kind of major stake in labeling my output, when generally I’m just happy to have output at all. But if you identify yourself as a writer in any sense, at some point someone is going to ask you what you write. And they might just be humoring you at a party so that you’ll fill the awkward silence for long enough for them to make an escape without seeming like a jerk, but you should still ideally have some kind of answer lined up. Generally, when it comes up, I say “science fiction and fantasy”, since for the most part that’s at least technically true, and almost everyone is probably going to know what I mean when I say it. But at least as far as I’m concerned–and usually I’m the only person who cares–things aren’t quite that simple.
I got into this original-fiction-writing-and-selling-of business through sf/f, yes. But the sf/f was of an erotic flavor (my first couple of publications were through Circlet Press). I went this route because, honestly, it seemed easiest. Good erotica is naturally not going to be all sex scenes all the time, but you can still safely operate under the assumption that when you sit down to write some erotica, there is going to be sex somewhere in there, and in a very prominent position (heh). In my experience, this gives one a thematic center around which to build a story, and a conceptual focal point at which to anchor it. For someone making their first hesitant foray into original writing, this kind of structure can be a comfortable place to start, especially if, like myself, you have something of a background writing porny fanfiction of various flavors.
My erotic lesbian (sort of kind of) fantasy short “The Kitsune’s Laughter” will be featured in the trickster-themed anthology Like a Cunning Plan!, coming soon from Circlet Press. Michael M. Jones is the editor, which means that, counting this, Scheherazade’s Facade, and Rumpled Silk Sheets, this is the third time we’ve been involved in a project together, which is happy-making. It’s fun to work with fun people.
This will also mark my fifth anthology publication with Circlet. Perhaps I can call myself a frequent contributor now?
Me, I’m trying to get back into the swing of things after the holidays, though I am still technically on winter break and will be until the end of the month. Some of the time is being taken up with a conference paper, and some of it should be taken up with the MA thesis that I’m avoiding, and some of the rest of it is going into an as-yet untitled story that I’m writing for Kasma SF, the money for which will be going to benefit The Trevor Project. In addition, I’m still hoping to get the novel–still wibbly on the title–out the door and enslushed in the next few weeks. And there are numerous other exciting projects on the horizon that I’m feeling pretty positive about.
All in all, I think I actually had a pretty good 2010. 2011 looks decent so far; here’s hoping it sticks with that all the way through for one and all.