With everything going on, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I’m getting by. It isn’t easy, what with a political coup and a global pandemic both still going on. The concept of the disaster bingo card, while hilarious, is also very on-point for 2020-2021, as we reel from one piece of horrible news to another. My coping mechanisms are sorely lacking; trying to stick to some kind of routine helps, but it’s easy to get sidetracked.
There’s certainly loneliness – I miss seeing my friends, and miss the camaraderie of conventions a great deal right now. Zoom and Facebook live chats do help, but they don’t convey the warmth of a hug or even a handshake. It’s better than nothing, but I’m in a serious touch deficit, and T can only do so much to help with that.
I’ve started painting miniatures again. We had to do some re-arranging in the basement, and my painting space is now crowded and not very accessible, so I’ve had to improvise a standing paint station. What that means is I can’t spend as much time at it in one go; standing on a concrete floor for hours is very hard on my back and legs, so I have to limit myself to half-hour segments. It makes getting things finished a little more challenging, but at least I can still do it. I’ve been slowly gathering a batch of finished work – Warhammer Fantasy and 15mm Napoleonic Wars miniatures are occupying my attention these days, and I have a few of each finished, awaiting more to justify a later mass sealant coating for the bunch.
I’ve been hearing the debate among bloggers regarding whether or not to include political material in blog posts. Frankly, no one cares what I think about it all, honestly. More importantly, we are bombarded with plenty of loud, shrill voices already, and if you’re like me you’re tired of it. Accusations of cowardice aside, I don’t see any particular need to run my beliefs up the flagpole. If you’ve had any conversations with me ever, you already have a good idea what my opinions are. I may well post a rant from time to time, but the end result is fewer people read those kinds of posts, so that answers that question.
I’ve been trying my best to find joy in little things. My writing career has very clearly stalled, though I haven’t completely lost hope yet and keep plugging away at a couple of things I’m working on. The lack of sales for steampunk work has forced me to abandon a novel I’d been working on in favor of something more sellable, and I died a little inside at reaching that realization, however reluctant I was to admit it. There’s also side projects, of which I have a couple going right now. They aren’t big but they keep my brain occupied, which is a Good Thing, right now especially.
The only real writing success I had this year was the launch of Changing Breeds: Wild West Tales, a digital-only anthology of fiction chronicling some of the other were-creatures besides wolves: bats, spiders, bears, tigers, and more are featured in this book. Set in the wild west, these 10 stories are essentially about fighting the good fight. Despite the subject matter, they aren’t really horror as much as they are action/adventure dramas. Sales have been slow but steady, and while it hasn’t been very financially rewarding, I’m gratified that the majority of participants seem eager to work on another, similar project with me. I recently received some very complimentary remarks on my story in this anthology as part of a review, and it made my heart soar! I’m trying to harness that energy for other projects – wish me luck!
To be honest, I have no great desire to be an editor; I don’t think that’s where my strengths lie, though I could do it in a pinch and perhaps do a solid if unremarkable job of it. Putting together an anthology is a lot of work; it’s not as bad as herding cats, but there’s no small amount of time and effort involved in just keeping in touch with everyone and making sure things are on track and running smoothly, never mind actually editing the stories. I’ll be giving very careful consideration to whether or not I want to do that again anytime soon, but for now I’m satisfied with the results of this little project.
I feel very lucky: despite having to go out and forage for groceries regularly, I’ve tried to be smart about it, and limit my trips to one day a week or less. I’m trying to utilize curbside services more often, which should also help. I encourage all of you to wear masks any time you go out; it may not be a perfect solution, but it will definitely help contain the spread. Be safe, be well, and keep reading books!