This blog post might get a little depressing so I will start off upfront with a fun fact: Freyja survived the Christian conversion period. I can’t stop thinking about this factoid from one of our primary Norse mythology sources, Snorri Sturluson. I hope more of the pagan deities from humanity’s past survived as well.
Back to the depression, my world has grown very small over these past four months. As an intel analyst, as a historian and a researcher, one of my many interests has always been the topic of disease. I often felt like Cassandra constantly bringing up the topic to my corporate overlords who, it turns out, did not give a shit. When reports of Covid started circulating out of China, I warned my employer. As the disease grew closer and closer to home, I could see the path it would take under our utterly and maliciously incompetent administration in the U.S. Then, I was laid off. My world shrank. The economy tumbled. I am now reliant on the Trump Administration and unemployment as our income. We are staring down the barrel of losing our house. My dad, now the sole income earner in our family, desperately wants to retire, but even he has been reduced to half salary.
I know I shouldn’t complain, that I shouldn’t focus on negativity.
But holy fucking fuck. How can I not?
My world is crumbling. After being let go from a job I was starting to trust had stabilized, I fell back on the one skill I know I possess that no one else does. I am a published goddamned neurodiverse author, for all that seems to matter during this heartrending query process. I went from taking a year to write a book that I desperately wanted to publish, that was then canceled, to finishing a novel in 10 days.
I obsessively research agents, I look through their #mswl, their manuscript wishlists, their previous deals, every public statement they’ve put out. I have queried over 70 agents and received 64 rejections. As near as I can tell, those rejections have been form ones. I am rapidly running out of hope that this process will end in success. With the evidence I have, how can I believe differently?
I know my book is weird. I know it is fantasy, which doesn’t seem to be in vogue right now. My book is different. Michelle keeps reminding me how strange, but also how wonderful it is.
This was the only route I could see to safety, to financial movement again. The one skill I have that no one else does, at least not quite in the same way, and not about the same story, finally shackled and put to my purpose. The skills I have honed from my graduate degree in international relations, from five years as a corporate intelligence analyst, assessing and predicting, all point to further disaster on the horizon. Finally, I am putting those skills to my own purposes, thus far to no avail.
Pumpkin the Badger isn’t a typical protagonist. Her family isn’t a typical family. Ascham as a setting isn’t something I have personally seen before in fantasy, but what do I know? Yes, there are dragons, and dwarves, and gnomes, but there are also dinosaurs, and Bigfoot, ghosts and crossroads devils, muskets, and magic. I drew deep from all the stories I’ve ever loved, the places where my memories are brightest, the people who have stood beside me through thick and thin. This book is my attempt to come to terms with my ADHD diagnosis, with this pernicious condition that explains so much that has gone wrong with my life.
My world is rapidly shrinking, my hope with it. I know that others have and are enduring far worse, but that doesn’t minimize the pain and despair I feel.
We are rapidly approaching yet more economic cliffs. Fiction, particularly escapism, is the only route out of this I can see. All I want is for this novel to be published, to get my foot in the door, to allow me the breathing space to write more.
I’m running a marathon with limited support and so far there are no water stations in sight.
On top of this, my parent’s dog, my beloved sister, is dying. She stood with me and helped me process my OCD diagnosis as I suffered a mental breakdown in my junior year of college.
This has been one of the roughest periods in my life, something for which I was well unprepared. I am really struggling to find hope in the here and now, to follow the advice that says to put my head down, shut up, and write something else.
My world continues to shrink. I miss my expanded horizons of possibility.
As always, loyal and true reader, I thank you for your kind time and attention. I wish I had better news, but that seems pretty hard to come by these days.