Saturday, April 5, 2008

giving up writing

From: Autumn (

I have really enjoyed all of your books so far especially The Blue Place and Stay... Are you writing any new novels? If you have already answered this question previously I am really sorry this is the first time on your web site.

Thank You for you time.

I'm always writing something. It's what I do--or perhaps who I am.

Do you ever play the What-If game in terms of what-if-I-had-to-choose-between-X-and-Y? I do. The two most important things in my life are Kelley and writing. What if I had to choose between them? (Stupid game, I know, but it teaches me a lot about how I think and feel about things, how I approach the world.) I always end up picking Kelley. Apart from anything else, I literally can't imagine a world where I don't write, so choosing to let it go in favour of Kelley's continued existence feels like a no-brainer. (Unhappily, I can imagine a world without Kelley. I spent the first twenty-seven years of my life without her. I've watched countless family members die.)

Anyway, my mind work something like this:

Okay, if I can't write novels, then I'll write screenplays. Oh, screenplays aren't allowed? Then I'll do a comic. Comics aren't allowed? Huh, then I'll come up with ideas for a TV series, I won't actually write the teleplays, just the series bible. What do you mean, I can't do that, either? All right, I'll go back to being a singer. Song lyrics are writing? You've got to be kidding. Hmmn, I know, I'll... And on and on I go. I literally can't imagine not writing. Even if I bricked up all the outlets I can think of, it would find some chink to flow through.

However, there have been times when I've considered quitting publishing. It's a deeply stupid industry. And at the worst of these times--dealing with the interminable senselessness of Big Corporate Dimness--there have been moments when my bitterness and cynicism leaks into the writing pool and turns everything brackish. It's one of the reasons I won't be writing anymore Aud for a while. It's why I've moved my focus to an entirely different genre.

At the end of last year, I started on a brand new novel about Hild of Whitby, a woman in 7th century England. I've started a whole blog to talk about why and to aid in my research. It's the book I've wanted to write for twenty years. It's the book that will change my career.

I've decided that I need to write with complete freedom. For the first time, and deliberately, I have no agent of any kind--not in New York, not in London, not in Los Angeles. I have no contract, no deadline. I will finish the novel, rewrite it to be exactly the way I want it to be, and fuck everyone else. Then I'll decide what kind of marketing it needs (including cover, and blurbs, and publicity), and then I will find an agent who can find a publisher who can get that for me. It's time to be in charge.

The sense of absolute liberation I feel while I'm doing this is fueling the best work of my life. I'm working in a voice I've never used but always suspected was there. I'm living in four simultaneous languages, at the nexus of more historical cultural change than I ever believed possible. And I'm writing a novel about a woman who has never been written about before, but whose influence shaped the beginning of England. It all feels so amazingly right that I think I must be dreaming.

This blog has moved. My blog now lives here: