Over the past couple of years, I've pretty much completely lost the ability to interact with my body of work. Not so much the books themselves -- I don't look at them a lot, but I can flip through them if there's something I want to check, or if I need to proof a story -- as the trappings (I almost wrote "entrapments") surrounding them. The business shit. Here are the things I still seem to be capable of doing:
- Receiving a clear-cut contract from my agent, deciding whether I want to accept it, and, if so, signing it and sending it back. (e.g. Dell's recent offer to make my first three books available for the Kindle and other e-readers, to which I agreed.)
- Receiving a story reprint offer from a magazine or anthology, deciding whether I want to accept it, and, if so, signing the contract and sending it back. (Jeff and Ann Vandermeer have reason to dispute that "sending it back" part, though I'm sure they are too polite to do so. I thought I had, honest ... )
Here are the things I do not seem to be capable of doing:
- Writing-related interviews and public appearances.
- Digging back through my horrible disorganized files of horrible depressing doomed 40-page book contracts with multinational conglomerates (or even 5-page contracts with agreeable small presses, for that matter), trying to determine what rights I do and don't retain, and then keeping that information in my recalcitrant brain long enough to convey it to the person who asked.
- Interacting with the people (other than those who are already friends) who want to do these projects. Again, no offense; I just have nothing to contribute and would rather not hear about it. The phrase "The producer wants to talk to you!" used to fill my heart with dread. Now it fills my mouth with laughter that the producer thinks this conversation has any chance of happening just because s/he wants it to. (And even with those who are already friends, I don't usually want to hear about the projects, as tjcrowley can vouch.)
People who want to do projects involving my work (if there are any left by now) can still contact my agents (Richard Curtis of Richard Curtis Associates pre-2001; Ira Silverberg of Sterling Lord Literistic 2001-present). As I say, I don't mean any disrespect to these projects (either theoretical or the couple that are already happening), or to my own work for that matter. It's hard for me to explain this disconnect with my former life in a way that doesn't piss people off and/or bring on the JUST SIT DOWN & WRITE & IT WILL BE ALL BETTER advice. It has to do with the levee failure, of course, and with the terrible experiences during my last years of publishing, and with the void that not-writing has inevitably left in my life even though I don't feel the need to write anything geared toward publication at this point. (I don't miss the writing itself and God knows I don't miss the business, but I do miss the relationships. The characters' relationships, my relationships with them. That's been a big loss, and hard to get used to.)
I've turned off comments because I don't want to talk about this. I beg your courtesy in not bringing it up in the comments to other posts, e-mailing, or tweeting at me about it. Thanks.