I write slowly, and these days I mostly write long, basically because I suck at short stories and because I’ve (mostly, temporarily) stepped back from journalism. As a result it’s totally possible for me to do an entire year of really intense work and come to the end of it having published practically nothing.
2018 was such a year!
I wrote a book review in the New York Times with a very creepy 1970’s-style sci-fi illustration. An essay of mine appeared in a wonderful book about fantasy maps. I also gave a lecture or two. But apart from that (unless I’m forgetting something, which is totally possible) I just wrote and wrote and wrote and didn’t publish anything.
I spent a lot of this year working on a novel about King Arthur called The Bright Sword. I turned in a first draft of it in January and a second draft in September, but I figure it’s going to take one more major revision before I can really say I’m in the endgame. You wouldn’t think it would take this long but Arthur is just one of those many-layered multi-chambered subjects that it’s really hard to feel like you’ve come to grips with in any kind of a satisfying way. And it’s a very old story, and I want to feel like it’s getting traction on what feels like a very new world while still remaining true to its old-ness.
Plus people have been writing about Arthur for so long, literally more than a thousand years. You look back at that huge long line of brilliant writers behind you, and they’re all looking at you, and you think jeez this had better be good.
But surely my good man you can’t sit around writing about King Arthur all day every day!
You’re right! I really can’t. I frequently burn out on projects and have to put them down for while and get some perspective. To be totally honest I haven’t even really touched The Bright Sword for a couple of months now because when I look at it all I can see is this kind of black-hole-sun thing where a manuscript should be and then I have to make a saving throw vs. madness.
So I’ve been working on other things instead. I read and commented on scripts for the Magicians show as they came in (the fourth season just wrapped a few weeks ago and will start airing in January). There’s also a deeply awesome Magicians graphic novel coming out next summer, which I didn’t write (the brilliant Lilah Sturges did), but I did look over everybody’s shoulders and make them feel uncomfortable while they worked on it.
And there are other other things too.
Up until two years ago I still had a day job as a staff writer at Time magazine, and when I left—and gave up the salary—I knew I would have to start up some non-novel projects, because it takes me so long to write novels that my family would probably run out of money in between them. And I felt burnt out on journalism. So I took up screenwriting instead.
Writing for Hollywood is one of those things novelists are not ever supposed to do ever, and I get that: it can be an incredible time- and soul-devourer. But at the same time when you’re in the business of storytelling it’s hard not to get interested in TV and movies, which are powerful and immediate in ways that are equal to — but very different from — novels. Plus scalewise they’re just incredibly dominant. I mean if you sell a million books you’re a massively successful author. If a million people watch your TV show, well, you’re 1/16th of Young Sheldon.
And kibitzing on the Magicians show, watching those guys work, made me wonder what it would feel like to tell stories that way. Writing is a lot about visualizing the book that you want to read but which hasn’t been written yet and then writing it. I started to realize there were un-made shows and movies I wanted to watch too.
(And there’s the money, right? True. Though for the time being at least I make much more from books than I do from screenwriting.)
So starting two years ago I began flying out to L.A. and talking to people. I did all the things. I lunched. I pitched. I was mentored. And slowly some projects have begun to materialize.
Annoyingly (and really there aren’t many things more annoying than when people say this) I can’t talk about them yet. They have developed to the point where I’m getting paid for them (which is a relief) but they haven’t quite developed to the point where they’ve been announced yet. But I’m super-excited about them, and hopefully it will all be out there soon.
Meanwhile I just badly miss finishing things and putting them out in the world. In most ways this was an incredibly great year: my family’s healthy, my house isn’t falling down, and I’m writing! And I love writing, I love this business of pouring all your thoughts and feelings into words. But with no one reading them it does start to feel a bit like playing Scrabble with yourself.
Which is great, don’t get me wrong. I’ve done enough of it to know! But enough is enough.
I’ll see you next year.
If I only ever seem to post about upcoming events anymore, that’s because these days I’m pretty much only posting about upcoming events.
I’m in a weird primordial state right now where I’m super-focused on the early stages of a couple of new projects, and each one is like a tiny planet, where its surface is still molten and malleable, but it’s cooling, slowly, toward the point where it might one day support primitive life-forms.
This Wednesday I’m talking to Helen Macdonald about her book H Is for Hawk at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. It would be great if you could come. But even if you can’t: find and buy this book, it’s astonishing.
Then next Tuesday, April 14, I’ll be at a literary salon held by an organization called Pen Parentis. More importantly, Kelly Link and Marly Youmans will be there. Almost as importantly, there will be wine.
A couple of months ago I got an e-mail from an artist named Jillian Nickell. She had a proposal: she was going to create a big, beautiful, frameable print to coincide with the release of The
What did I think? Good idea?
I looked at her site. I had to agree: it was a good idea. Jillian is one of those rare people who simply buy zithromax no prescription knows what magic looks like, and she has the even rarer ability to draw it and show it to other people. A couple of months later we have this gorgeous print that celebrates the whole Magicians trilogy, on sale today:
You can buy it through Jill’s Etsy page here. It’s a limited edition, so they may not last. More on this anon.
So January is the beginning of what — in the accursed, eternally burning nation of TV-land — is known as pilot season. That’s when the networks pick some of the series they have in development and greenlight them, meaning they’re actually going to cast and film a pilot episode.
It’s an exciting time. Except if your series doesn’t get greenlit.
This is a hard post to write. I’m really, really disappointed. I also feel bad that I got everybody excited about the project, only onlineusadrugstore24.com to have it immediately fail. I promise you — and I can’t stress this enough — I wouldn’t have done that unless I had some very good reasons to think that the show would in fact be greenlit. In fact I’m pretty stunned that it wasn’t.
I guess those reasons weren’t ironclad. Or maybe they were ironclad but not, I don’t know, adamantium-clad.
At any rate, clearly there was an issue with the cladding.
I’m still in Sydney, still only online once in a while. I’m back February 3. In the meantime look at this image of the Physical Kids encountering their first clock-tree.
If you’ve ever wondered, Alice
[And Now an Unrelated Appendix to This Post: I spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about September 11th, which isn’t the sort of thing I usually blog about, but there it is.
It feels like I’m resuming a cover identity that I had temporarily abandoned. Regular posting will continue. It will simply continue covertly.
This isn’t going where you think it is. It’s not like I turned up at J.K. Rowling’s house drunk and made a pass at her. Or broke down crying in the middle of our interview. Though the second one crossed my mind.
I did do a fair amount of drinking. Edinburgh: not a city to dry out in. And here’s a fine period detail: you could smoke in bars. I found a punk bar near my hotel and sat in it, wallowing in self-pity and Harry Potter, reading book after book and drinking pint after pint and burning cigarette after cigarette. I missed my daughter. I missed myself — the version of myself that had any idea what was going on.
I didn’t go up to the house. Instead I was led to a bungalow a few yards away. In the bungalow was a conference room with a big blonde wooden table. At the table was J.K. Rowling.
OK, now it’s February. Here are some things that have happened since October 23:
Yes, it looks like a giant penny. But not in a bad way.
— I proposed an idea for a sequel to The Magicians to my publisher, Viking, and they bought it. It will be called The Magician King. I’m really excited about it. I’ve never had a publisher buy a book from me before the actual writing of said book — so for example I spent 5 years writing The Magicians without any particular reassurance from the universe that anybody but me would ever read it. For a publisher to commit to buying the book in advance is a big deal. It takes a lot of pressure off.
Of course Viking has also given me a deadline, which is interesting. I’ve never had one of those before either. They said August. I said October. They said OK. But there was a thought balloon over their head(s) that read “actually we really still mean August.” ETA in bookstores: late summer 2011.
— The paperback of The Magicians is coming out in May. With it comes another book tour. I don’t know all the details yet, but it’ll start at the Los Angeles buy zithromax com Times Festival of Books, and will include stops in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, Minnesota, New York City, Miami, Austin and Washington DC. I’m really hoping to make each of the events kind of special — when I toured last fall I was still pretty freaked out to be in front of an audience, so hopefully I will not look as traumatized on stage as I did on the last outing. I’ve written a new piece just for readings, set in the Magicians-verse but not available in stores! as the TV ads used to say.
Also I’m planning on doing more post-reading drinking this time. So there’s that. The schedule is pretty close to being firm, and I’ll post it in Events as soon as I can.
— More good news associated with the paperback: I’ll be fixing typos and continuity errors! So far all those who’ve pointed out that they couldn’t have driven from the house upstate to Albany and back in the time allotted, if the house is — as I clearly imply — west of the Adirondacks, know this: I’ve got it totally under control.
— Sometimes people point out to me that although The Magicians gets some good reviews, it also gets its share of hate as well, and what’s up with that? I’ve looked into this, and I think I’ve figured it out. See, sometimes demons ascend from a lower realm to this one, possess a human and devour him or her from within, like some hideous larval parasite, leaving behind a hollow, ambulatory man-rind in that person’s place, a humanoid mockery of all that is good and true. Those demons then head straight for a keyboard and review The Magicians online. And some of those demons have really crap taste in books. So I hope that clears that up.
As you can tell from the slackening pace of these updates, we have entered the long and relatively news-free period in between books. Right now most of my energy is focused on an idea for a sequel to The
So some final notes. I don’t want to leave this review of The Magicians on Boing Boing unlinked, because it’s one of my favorite things anyone has written about the book. That it was written by Cory Doctorow, a person I admire a lot, makes me almost painfully proud and happy. Also I want to mention an event I’m doing at The Knitting Factory on November 8. It’s the kickoff of the Largehearted Boy reading series. It’s a great space, and a great buy zithromax online in australia series, and there will be music at it, which will make it funner. It’s also probably the last event I’ll do in New York City this year.
And here’s something exciting. Exciting for me that is: over the past 8 weeks, The Magicians was apparently the second-best-selling SF/F book at independent bookstores nationwide. Holy Crow.
The last thing I want to say is about e-mail. I’ve been getting a lot of it, coming in through here and elsewhere. And I’m so grateful for it. When it started, I swore to myself that I would answer all of it, but it turns out I just can’t. I never thought I would have this problem, but there’s just too much. If I answered it all, then answering e-mail would be all I did. I’m really sorry.