Ah, another Tuesday and once more into Fantasy Author’s Handbook. Glancing back it looks like I have been a little “ranty” lately, whether it’s unloading a pallet of bile in regards to reviews or bemoaning the fact that for a week or so the air where I live was poisonous, and I guess there’s this whole pandemic thing happening, and an election…

Stress, right? Definitely stressful times. Add to that my own personal things, managing my own family-in-and-out-of-quarantine and project managing not just my own slightly overwhelmed workload but an ongoing string of home repairs, car repairs, body repairs, and mind repairs, too.

A decent night’s sleep? Nope.

Diet even resembling healthy? Hilarious!

Feeling good in any way at all? Not so much.

And guess what… I’m not the only one. I know that for sure. This is quite an ongoing shitshow we’ve found ourselves in, isn’t it.

It sure is.

So after the I’ve-lost-count-of-how-many stressful days in a row I find myself, not necessarily about to lose it or anything but honestly, hovering around the edges of about to lose my ability to stop myself from getting to where I’m about to lose it.

Deep breath time.

I’m okay, actually.

I’m busy, which is good. I’ve got work to do, and it’s work that I love. I don’t feel as though I have all the time I need to do that work effectively, but that’s a problem I can and will solve on my own. No help required. Other things—projects around the house, in particular—I’ll knock off one at a time in small doses. I don’t know how people put themselves through that total home renovation process. I’m going with a project at a time and it will all get done, just not this week. I feel like crap but I’m not actually sick. I don’t have any signs of COVID or any other serious or life-threatening disease. That’s pretty good. I’m writing a little at least, which is better than not writing at all. And to be honest, most of the things I’m really putting a lot of pressure on myself about are not really that big a deal. Time to just take a moment and stop and breathe and be okay.

How are you doing?

Are you writing? Are you ranting and raving on the Internet? Does that help you? It doesn’t help me, but we all have to find our way. Are you writing “enough”? How much is “enough”? Considering the moment, especially here in America, I’d like to put forward the idea that any creative work at all is “enough” right now. Maybe if all goes well next week, we can take another moment or two and regroup for 2021 with plans and diets and exercise routines and all sorts of great stuff.

But in the meantime I’m putting myself in urgent priority mode, getting to work, keeping my head down, and getting through the rest of 2020 with my family, my health, my business, and my sanity intact.

All things considered, that’s not bad.

—Philip Athans

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About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, (https://fantasyhandbook.wordpress.com/) is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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  1. James Ross says:

    I am developing some momentum. Essential worker, haven’t gotten any lockdown time off, but I am finally getting some time in. I’ve got a scrap from a writing exercise where a ghost is trying to stop her still-living lover from bringing her back–not that she doesn’t want to come back, but because she fears for his soul. She’s trying to set him up with a new lover and she’s jealous of her. And the book he needs won’t return to the shape of a book until he kills someone, so she might be right. Unless it’s a test…
    So it’s still in the preliminary outlining stages but all is well. And Covid lockdown certainly got me some police help at work (gas station, night shift.)
    If I can just get back to daydreaming my scene during lulls in work, instead of that Chinese Dopamine Evoker, part scratch ticket, part Youtube–called TikTok.

  2. I’m working toward writing s’more. Finally dusted off my blog (haven’t updated since early August prior to tonight), and priming myself to continue writing. Had pieced together some prose in the meantime that I might share. I have to agree with you — any bit of creative work right now is “enough”.

  3. Dawn Ross says:

    It’s good to see the positive side of things. I probably have it better than most. None of my close family members have been sick. Some friends of the family got Covid, but they’ve recovered. Some relatives had to evacuate their homes because of the west coast fires, but they’ve been allowed to return and the smokey haze has gone. My 18-year-old daughter moved to the south only to have to ride through three hurricanes. None of them caused any damage. My husband gets to work from home. Until the cold set in, we walked together every day. I am a stay-at-home mom and do a lot of volunteer work. Initially, my volunteer duties dropped when Covid started, but one of the places I volunteered for needed even more help. It’s low-risk as far as Covid is concerned so I’m working almost every day now. For a while, I balanced that with keeping my 5-year-old son entertained. He returned to school recently, though. Luckily, his classes are small and the school is taking Covid seriously. I once again have more time to write and am working on three projects at once plus doing some beta reading. As long as I don’t look at the political situations, I’m happy.

    • Philip Athans says:

      That all sounds great! I think in the end (whatever/whenever “the end” is) there will be far more stories of resiliency and opportunity in this than there will be tales of tragedy.

  4. You know, I’ve said to myself more times than I care to admit that if my grandchildren hadn’t come to live with me, I would have TONS of time to write. My husband is an essential worker, so her never stopped working. That means it was up to me to oversee the e-learning and find something to occupy a 9 and 13 year old since March. And still the end of that isn’t in sight. Meanwhile, I had plenty of income-producing work–I develop and teach business training workshops which quickly moved online. The demand was high especially 2nd quarter, so I’ve had lots of that kind of work. The challenge was finding time to do it without constant interruptions from the grandkids.

    So writing suffered BIG time.

    Then, the clouds parted and the angels sang (at least in my mind) because wonder of all wonders a publisher picked up my fantasy trilogy. I had to write book 3 quickly if I wanted him to publish 1 before the end of the year. I dove into that with an incredible passion, writing 110K words in just over 3 months! (Now revising it, of course.) I pushed a lot of work to the side in order to do that, and I know my family thinks I forgot them on some days, but I succeeded. Book 1 comes out Dec. 18, so I have at least one good thing that came out of this crazy-I’m-around-my-family-way-too-much year.

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