I have this problem. I can't say no to work. Pretty much never do I say no to work. I blame the poverty of my childhood, coupled with the absurd cost of not being willing to live on the street in a cardboard box. A direct result of this is that I frequently become over-extended. And usually, that only results in exhaustion. And exhaustion and writing go hand in hand, at least as far as I'm concerned. I'm always exhausted. That's just the way it is. But...occasionally I push things a bit far, even for me. Which gets back to our subject line, and there being no entry yesterday.
Over the last year and a half, several wonderful editors asked me to contribute to several wonderful books, and I said yes to every single one of them. Never mind Sirenia Digest (usually two stories a month) or the novels, or anything like realistic considerations of the allocation of my time. I said yes. So, I've been working harder than usual, getting these stories written, on top of everything else, including promoting The Red Tree.
The Mars YA short story, "Romeo and Juliet Go to Mars," has become a casualty of my desire to say "yes" to every project I'm offered. But...somehow, I'm not telling this right.
This month started off hectic, but I thought I had everything under control (I usually think that, whether it's true of not). But I'd seriously miscalculated the number of days I'd need to spend copyediting The Ammonite Violin & Others. And I felt things began to slip. And I began to have far more serious headaches than usual, the sort that land me in bed. And, finally, Sunday night I had a very bad seizure. Almost always, the bad ones come when I'm pushing myself too hard. Still, I got up on Monday, near panic, and tried to continue work on the Mars story. But by late afternoon, early evening, we'd finally gone to Code Orange. I was locking up and freaking out. And Spooky told me I needed to set the Mars story aside, that it was just too much, especially given that I still have two public appearances and Sirenia Digest #47 to get through in October, and I still haven't put together the long-overdue proposal for the next novel for Penguin (though I've been paid part of the advance for it). Plus there are interviews. So...with extreme reluctance I emailed the editor for the Mars story on Monday afternoon and bowed out of the book as gracefully as I could (first time I'd pulled out of an anthology in years). And then I went to bed, where I spent most of yesterday.
I may resurrect "Romeo and Juliet Go to Mars" sometime next year, but for now, it's going to have to lay fallow. And I may be bowing out of another anthology before the end of the year.
So, no Mars for me, not right now, and should you happen to see me at the Manhattan reading on the 27th, or at the Brown University reading on the 24th, and wonder why I look a bit more haggard than usual, there you go.
Monday night and all of yesterday are a blur of resting and reading and streaming stuff on Spooky's laptop and watching DVDs. I've been working my way through Lovecraft Unbound. Yesterday, I read "The Crevasse" by Dale Bailey and Nathan Ballingrud, Anna Tambour's "Sincerely, Petrified," "Sight Unseen" by Joel Lane, and "In the Black Mill" by Micheal Chabon. My favorite of the lot was "The Crevasse," which is really superb. I would have liked it to have been longer, but I'm not sure that's a valid criticism. And we watched the rest of Season Three of Weeds, and a documentary about David Lynch.
Yesterday, Spooky made me go Outside for a little while. We walked around Dexter Training Grounds for bit. The air was chilly, almost cold. The trees are rapidly getting their autumn colours. There are some photos below. As for today, I am under orders to get get more rest before I have to begin work on the digest, and mostly, I just have this fucking knot of regret over the Mars story. I think the knot is lodged somewhere in my belly. Regret truly is one of the most loathsome of emotions.