Reader Questions: Doing it all

Thirzah asks keeping kick-ass real? Why is it ok to have a hero/ine shoot people in fiction, when we’re opposed to guns & violence in real life?

Well, I write about a god-fighting shaman, so I’m not sure how *real* I keep kick-ass, but… :)

I think it’s all right for us to explore violence in fiction precisely because we don’t in real life. It’s a way for us to imagine and experience things we actually really hope we don’t encounter in real life. A lot of fiction is about heightening experiences, or exploring the dark/scary/interesting places in our own heads, and getting the thrill of the visceral reaction to it without, y’know, being a murderer. Or getting a sword stuffed through us, or whatever.

Thirzah also asks: Also! How [do you] write a zillion books, post a billion posts, walk a trillion steps, raise a small child and *still* get time to go to the cinema?!

Pretty sure this isn’t actually the part of the question Thirzah expected me to answer in depth, but I’m going to.

I have not, in fact, written a zillion books since having a small child. I’ve written…*stops to count*…6. (shaman rises, stone’s throe, mountain echoes, skymaster, seamaster, baba yaga’s daughter, because somebody’s gonna ask.)

Okay. Six is quite a few books in 4 years. I’ll grant anybody that. However, it’s 1.5 books a year, and previous to having a child I was writing a lot closer to 3.5 books a year.

People think it’s pretty funny when I’m stressed and unhappy about only getting a book and a half done a year, but it’s amazingly not funny to me. Dropping from 3.5 books to 1.5 books a year is a *huge* blow, and I have extremely high–unreasonably high–expectations of myself. It is literally an every-day struggle to not beat myself up or try to anticipate what I could be doing if everything went smoothly today. It’s incredibly difficult to not commit myself to all the projects that sound like fun, and it’s equally difficult to try to narrow down what specific project I should be focusing on next when I’m accustomed to being damned near able to do it all.

I’m told that people have a perception of me just being someone who Gets It Done, apparently partly because I don’t talk about my difficulties a great deal in public. (I certainly feel like I do enough in private.) That’s very flattering, but it’s also frustrating, because I don’t at all feel like I’m Getting It Done a lot of the time.

As for walking and the cinema, well, I walk to the cinema because if I don’t get some time to myself I’ll lose my mind. But I am aware every goddamn minute that I’m going to movies or watching TV or whatever that I am not writing, and while I recognize that in fact I cannot be working every hour of the day (because who are we kidding, parenting is relentless work) I still feel torn up and guilty about it. So that’s the reality, actually. It’s not only not as easy as it (apparently) looks, but it’s not even half as functional as it (apparently) looks.

And I try to schedule blog posts in advance. *schedules this one…* :)