So we’re just a week away from turning in the final stories for our weird antho from Atlantic’s Corvus imprint: 750,000 words, covering 100 years. We’re all-in at this point. And I mean that in every possible way. I’ve gained ten pounds the last four months despite my best efforts, drank too much, spent too much time on the computer, been irritable and cranky, and suffered more anxiety than ever before on a project. Gone from incredibly highs to plummeting lows, and back again. Had the stuffing punched out of us and gotten back up and always found work-arounds and ways to get where we wanted to go. (Shout-out to Gio Clairval, our secret weapon, best ally, the spy who knew just enough languages to make a lot more possible.)
Ann’s had it worse because she’s had to deal with permissions crapola while working a day job and running Weird Tales. This is the untold stories of projects that become obsessional, that you believe in too much, especially ones that should take two years but you have to complete in five months. They kind of cripple you, deform your life in the short-run; you need recovery from them, you need people to be proactively kind for awhile. Not just the overload to the brain of reading so much for so long (and yet such a short time, considering), but then the constant pressure of going after permissions, dealing with so many different agents, estates, writers, and other Entities. Not to mention keeping the details straight, which, even with a spreadsheet, is daunting on something this size. (And at the end of the day, despite all of the obstacles, we’ll have acquired all but five of the stories we wanted, as we predicted, and thus reach our word count by attrition not by adding on.)
I said to someone that teaching Shared Worlds and Clarion after our deadlines would be a vacation, a kind of blessing, and I meant it. I don’t believe we have ever gone through such an intense experience. Now we just have to hope it was worth it. Chances are we’ll forget all the blood, sweat, and tears by the time it comes out. Chances are we’ll both shed a tear when the book’s in our hands.
Out in November. Hand-made. Lovingly prepared. Cunningly fought for. If we pull this off, it will be the greatest tactical and strategic victory for any project we’ve ever been associated with, the back story alone worth recounting as a kind of surreal adventure. I don’t know if we’ll ever top it. Just glad to have had such a brilliant reader and editor as Ann as a partner on it.
I’d like my life back, please.