…then I went and almost died, which would have been a pretty good excuse had I missed the deadline, but also slightly awkward.

It’s been three days. (Good Gods. THREE. DAYS.) I’m stuck trying to process what happened. Maybe I am over-dramatising or remember some parts wrong because of the fever, I tell myself. Wait, but if I had that much of a fever… well, I didn’t really feel like I had it, so maybe it doesn’t count? Then a realisation hits me: those hours, or maybe minutes, when I thought I was falling in and out of sleep? I was falling in and out of consciousness. The stormtroopers, or whoever they were, might have been very quiet, respectful, and even kinda sad when they kept entering and flanking my bed again and again and again and again… I wonder, was it more minutes or hours? I remember I tried to look and one of them covered my watch, so I couldn’t see. Can a hallucination do that, or was I actually hallucinating my attempt to look, but I actually couldn’t move my hand?

Isn’t this the sort of thing that only happens to other people? I’ve already collected spine injuries, an impressive collection of mental health problems, how about other people take their other people stuff and leave me alone to do boring stuff like finishing books?

CW: The following contains medical talk (I took out the most gruesome bits) and me not dying. It’s also a mess representative to the state in which my mind is as well.

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I will tell you a secret: the release date I had in mind for Children of the Gods was May 28. I have booked my editor for the final pass at the end of March/beginning of April, the proofreader – first two weeks of April, I have planned to send the ARCs (advanced review copies) to reviewers around April 15-20. I even said the words of doom: “for once, I have realistic deadlines and nothing can go wrong”.

Then 2020 happened and honestly, I have not predicted that when I was setting my totes realistic deadlines.

I am writing this on May 6 [and 7 – Ed.]. I haven’t even finished chapter six (out of ten) yet. Yesterday I thought I was finished, then, a few hours later I re-read what I had written and, uh, it’s not finished. My editor has chapters 1-4. My proofreader, who is an angel, forgave me for not having sent her anything but apologies at the beginning of April. Or May. The banner on my Facebook page says ‘summer 2020’, because September 20 is still summer and I’m trying to think positive.

In the last few days some of the people I know started displaying worrying symptoms. One of them said that it felt selfish to go to a grocery store to buy wine. Another felt horrible for eating sweets all on her own. A few haven’t exercised for a week or taken a shower for three days. This makes them believe that they are practically evil. I told them not to be silly, but I’m all talk and no action – I’ve been feeling horrible about not writing fast enough, so I’ve been forcing myself to work more and faster, so now I can’t write at all. My body and brain refuse to cooperate. Every day I must nap at random times, because my mind just switches off and all I can do is scroll Twitter and click little hearts. I go to bed fully dressed, hide under a duvet and a weighted blanket, and shiver from the cold. Apparently this is normal during endless exposure to stress and anxiety that can’t be lessened by taking a holiday, because taking holidays is currently on the list of things that are even less likely to happen than me winning the lottery.

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I’ve been asked to provide some insight into my creative process. This made me feel like a total ~*hipsté-artisté*~ – I never really sit down and open my laptop thinking “ooh, it is time indeed to engage in my creative process” – but it coincided with a curious event.

The book I am now working on, Children, will tell the stories of Magni, the son of Thor, and Maya, raised by Freya – and the stories of Thor donning a wedding dress to recover his stolen hammer; of a giant blacksmith building a wall around Ásgard, the world of the Gods; of Loki seducing the blacksmith’s horse, then giving birth to the eight-legged stallion Sleipnir; Thor’s duel with the giant Hrungnir and his subsequent dealings with the wise Gróa. The follow-up, Land, will tell about the first journey from the Nine Worlds into the tenth, a journey the goal of which will be the discovery of the new Ásgard.

At this point Children is slowly heading where I want it to be and Land is a sketch of a first draft with plot outline. Land will take much less time, since it will be a sequel, but by now I have rewritten Children more than ten times. I don’t even feel ready to send it to my editor. A part of my creative process is that I’m an obsessive perfectionist.

 

The great unknown

My beta readers reported that they were confused by the names of the Norse Gods and the setting(s) – the Norse Nine Worlds. I was surprised, because I believed that everyone must have seen the Thor movies. Not that I’d recommend them as a primer on heathen faith. This added an extra part needing to be written: an index and possibly a companion e-book. It was also another conformation that the beta readers are indispensable. Sometimes when I rewrite something ten times I forget that I took things out and it isn’t until a fresh pair of eyes lands on the text that I find out what I’ve done.

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