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Driver Eight, Take a Break
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I am not so good at living in the now. I'm a striver. I'm always looking over the next hill, setting the next goal, reaching for those crazy stars, yo. Any laurels I've acquired are wholly uncrumpled, because I don't spend much time resting on them. When I sell a story, I'm ecstatically happy for a few minutes... and then I start thinking, "Sure, but what have I done for me lately?" (The ecstasy lasts quite a bit longer when I sell a book, fortunately.) That's part of why I tend to juggle so many (sometimes too many) projects -- if I'm not moving, I get antsy, and unhappy. I like being productive, and productivity is a crucial subset of happiness for me.

It's funny to think about how many projects I've created -- and sold -- just because I was bored, and felt like I hadn't accomplished much lately. Both story collections and my poetry collection came about that way. I was between projects, feeling antsy and fretful, so I started drawing up tables of contents, figuring out line-ups, doing word-counts, fantasizing about afterwords, etc. And, after creating manuscripts just to keep my pinwheeling brain occupied, I figured the natural next step would be to try to sell them. I sent Little Gods to Prime after talking to Nick Mamatas about the collection he'd sold them, and they bought it. I sent Hart & Boot & Other Stories to Night Shade Books because they're my favorite small press publisher at the moment, and they bought it. I sent If There Were Wolves to the Yale Younger Poets competition first, and when they rejected me, sent it to Aegis, because I knew they were publishing Sonya Taaffe's marvelous poetry book, and they bought it.

Same thing with my publishing ventures. Heather and I did holiday chapbooks because they made great gifts, and because I love diddling around with layout. (I'm hardly a master designer, but if you look at, say, Living Together in Mythic Times compared to our latest chapbooks, you'll see I've come a long way.) When I don't feel like writing, I often feel like playing around with desktop publishing, and we started Flytrap and, more recently, began doing chapbooks by other people, basically as a way of keeping me from being fretful and at loose ends when the fiction isn't coming easily. Heather contributes more than I do when it comes to editorial matters, and she takes care of the lion's share of mailing and distribution stuff, but I do the actual clicking-and-dragging of layout, often in a sort of zen state of happy productivity.

These days, though, my ducks are in a row. I've sold my next two fantasy novels, and the next fantasy novel I'll try to sell after that is drafted. I have a collection of stories coming out early next year, which means it'll be several years before I have enough stories to put another collection together. I won't be selling another poetry book anytime soon (my poetry production has dropped drastically in recent years). Basically, apart from some layout stuff for Tropism Press, I'm set.

And I'm already getting antsy. Which is why I've been thinking about writing novellas, or doing a science fiction YA early next year (that is increasingly a very serious idea, by the way). I need plans. I need work -- not upcoming publications, work -- on the horizon. Maybe it's indicative of some deep sense of insecurity, terror that one day I'll wake up with nothing to do, no project at hand? Or maybe I just like keeping busy. At any rate, this striving is the reason I've had whatever successes I can claim. I like to keep busy, so I do a lot of projects, and some of them sell. That's it.

What drives you?



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