Writing in the time of apocalyse

Statement 1) I am an introvert.

Statement 2) I “retired” from the dayjob in Feb 2018, so I’m 25 months into writing full time from home.

I stand at the counter in the kitchen, at the bar that sticks out like a peninsula and cuts the greatroom into kitchen over there and living room over here. I also raised the bar six inches from normal countertop height so I can write all day. Normally, I work from about 8am until noonish, seven days a week, with a late start on Sundays because I go down to my favorite restaurant and they open at 8.

My goal is always 4,000 words per day. Over the entirety of 2019, I hit that as a monthly average only a few times, but last year my target was 100,000 words per month, and I did hit that. Even in months where I had to grind hard to get there.

Then the world went pear-shaped.

My sales are generally down roughly 25-40% right now from what they normally are. I’m hoping that this is just a quick trough due to everyone spending so much time on netflix or the news, and not having a chance to sit and quietly read. We were expecting this sort of thing to happen come Labor Day, because it always does in presidential election years, through about Dec 1.

This year, it kinda started early.

In fact, when the impeachment got going, I watched book sales fall. And it wasn’t just me, because my author ranking and book rankings on Amazon haven’t really changed. People just aren’t reading anyone right now. Or maybe they are falling back on old books as comfort food and not buying new ones. That’s a behavior I understand.

Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) was going to go see her sister in Vegas in April. That got cancelled. She was going back to a the Licensing Expo in May. That got moved out. Hopefully not cancelled.

We were going to do a lot of things, but most of them are on the chopping block right now. NINC’s annual conference in September was iffy at best. Not happening at all. OryCon in November is hopefully happening. Westercon in July might be, but I haven’t heard anything from the concom about attending and they are too busy right now for me to bother them.

Hunkering down. It sucks, because there are folks out there who were counting on us spending money this year. Audio books. Translations. Even cons.

Not happening, as we dial things down to hoard our cash and figure out what the new normal will be.

The United States will not be the same place next year that it was last year, but nobody knows what that future looks like. Maybe this country gets serious about health care for all. Maybe the progressive agenda that would have blunted a lot of the effects of the virus will have been enacted by this time next year.

And maybe the world will have burned.

Social distancing means that the library where I normally go into town for internet heavy lifting is closed, as are all the coffee shops I might hit. Managed to expand my internet service yesterday, so that helps. When we first got it (cellular through a cradlepoint), it was 5gb/month. Later, that got bumped to 22Gb. Now it is 40GB/month, and can apparently go as high as 100Gb if I want.

The march of technology, mixed with everyone working from home. All your internet tools will have to adapt. Your world will change.

Nothing will be as it was, so start thinking right now about how you can make it better. You’ll need a better hobby than rotting your brain in front of a television, because you’ll never leave the house if you don’t.

Take the time to become a better person.

I’m writing. Getting caught up on a bunch of backlog of editing that got pushed to one side when we were both sick in January. But I’m also speeding myself up a little. Not much. Planning longer novels and longer short projects, so if I get it up to 4500 words/day or even 5000, it won’t be too bad to try to read.

I’m going to keep publishing. Keep writing. Keep editing. Will be working on some sewing projects when I get the urge and the time. Won’t be going into town nearly as much, nor as long. Bought gift certificates to my favorite restaurant, to give them cash now. They’ll make it up to me in the summer.

If you’re trying to write from home, ask the introvert/extrovert question and make sure you communicate with whoever else is around what your needs are. Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) and I don’t even live in the same house half the week, so we’re good at social distancing. But our daily life didn’t really get derailed.

You need to plan. Communicate. Adapt. Things are different and won’t go back.

I would suggest cutting expenses any way and everywhere you can, at least for now. Nobody knows how long this will last, and those of us without day jobs as steady income are going to be looking to scramble. Artists who don’t have cons and musicians who don’t have gigs are going to be hammered, so maybe adopt one and commission some work. Or invite them over to dinner and send leftovers home.

Something to help them survive when their world completely imploded.

The greatest gift you can give right now is human empathy. Use it.