Exactly as the title suggests, the twenty-first and final draft of Storytellers arrived from my editor this morning.

The dream I had many years ago inspired the first draft. I was somewhat sick, but not too sick to type, so I wrote it down within the first two weeks of January 2017. At the end of September 2017 I sent what was in my head the final version to the editor, asking only for grammar and spelling corrections. Sixteen months later we both declared the book ready. January 1, 2017 – January 28, 2019. Exactly two years and twenty-eight days.

Obviously, I didn’t spend every single day working on those drafts. When the book was with the editor, I busied myself writing an outline for another book that didn’t work, two drafts for God of Fire which is now in my “perhaps one day in the far future” folder, and recently started rewriting the Norse mythology as a character-driven epic fantasy series. I don’t mind revealing that, because the idea is the easiest part of writing a book…

 

Idea

It all starts with the idea. Many people say they have no ideas. I believe this, generally, to not be true. If you ever looked at your ex and thought “I wish you’d fall into a sewer during the first walk with your new girlfriend”, you came up with an idea you could elaborate on. You, or rather your heroine who would definitely not be you at all, could curse the ex – every time he went on a date, something awful would happen to him. Instead of a werewolf, he could be a wererat or a werecockroach. If you had a conversation and came up with the perfect answer half an hour earlier, you came up with an idea you could write down. Once you had enough of those mini-ideas, you could start writing.

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‘Tis almost the time to start working on New Year’s resolutions. But I’m old and decrepit, and have enough experience with those. Before you make NY resolutions, be aware that:

  1. You’ll probably decide New Year’s Day is a holiday anyway, then Jan 2 is when you have to go to work which is UNFAIR, then the weekend is coming, and you’ll reluctantly get to it on Jan 7, already feeling guilty. (Or is it just me?)
  2. You’ll totally adhere to them for approximately 17 days. (Or is it just me?)
  3. Your reserve to avoid sweets will begin to crumble when your significant other tells you his colleague Jerry did something. At this point your brain will start flashing BEN & JERRY in huge, red lights. (Or is it just me?)
  4. Your decision to go to the gym five times a week will begin to crumble when you realise how many weeks there are per year. (Or is it just me?)
  5. You’ll be ready to start preparing NY resolutions for 2020 around the 25th of January, 2019. (That will NOT be me.)

Instead of resolutions, this year I am trying to have goals. The nice thing with goals is that they’re not a binary 0/1 made it/failed sort of thing, unless you decide to torment yourself by thinking like this, at which point you’ve made New Year’s resolutions, then called it something else.

Imagine that on January 1 you give yourself a goal to become a bazillionaire. (Note the lack of “…before December 31st”.) At the end of the year, you find yourself being a mere multi-millionaire. If it were a resolution, being a mere multi-millionaire would constitute a big FAIL. Since it’s a goal, you’re doing tremendously well. Also, you’re now my best friend and can I borrow $100,000 please?

Without further ado, here are my goals for 2019…

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I’m writing about depression, because they say “write what you know”. But this advice probably applies to most of us who suffer from various sorts of chronic or recurring illness.

A while ago, I saw a recommendation for a book. I will not quote the title or the author for obvious reasons. The gist of the advice provided was “I know it’s difficult, but you just need to work harder and everything will be hunky dory” coupled with “…and if you don’t work hard enough, then it’s your own fault, enjoy your depression”. (Oh, and “buy my books”.) I managed to get to page 11, therefore I am not qualified to give the full masterpiece a 1-star review. On page 11 the author took someone’s suicide note and applied his wisdom to it, noting – I am paraphrasing, don’t google that – that perhaps if the dead author in question had access to useful resources, such as that book, everything might have been fine. The quotes that appear on previous pages can be summed up with “oh, I get depressed, but that’s awesome because it gives me so much insight into myself and improves my creativity, I am so grateful for depression!”.

This is not depression. It’s called navel-gazing. For a person suffering from actual depression this book is actively dangerous.

 

Depression is an illness that often kills.

Again, there’s no need to quote names of people who were famous, successful, appeared perfectly happy, had money, family, whatever else you could possibly dream of, then died of depression. Their loved ones – and people who have never experienced depression – called them cowards for committing suicide. They didn’t understand that it wasn’t “committing suicide” any more than dying of cancer is “committing suicide”. Death is the final result of the untreated depression and is often brought forward by the sort of good advice provided in the book I mentioned above.

So…what is a creative person supposed to do when they’re depressed?

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