Things are biting. We're not talking nibbles here, the same way perhaps a gold-fish will chew the end of your finger if you leave it in the fish-tank long enough. Nor are we talking nipping either, like a cat might, or when a new mother tells you about the time when their eight month-old child develops teeth and decides using them is the best way to breast feed. No, we're talking grizzly bite-sized chunks. Raw, gnashing, chomping, "I'm-gonna-fucking-eat-you-all-up-if-you-let-me" biting.
It's not hard to see that we are in a recession. In every way, in every facet of our lives we are seeing a degradation in quality. From the dwindling high-street stores, to another drop in house prices, to the way other things of importance just inflate (like food and fuel) it’s starting to take its toll. Authors have been feeling this pinch for longer than most as the book-world has been in a recession for some time, before the banks went crazy and decided to sell houses to people who didn't have an effing clue or without the means to ever pay them back. Books have been in trouble for a while before that, sure, it's just that most other things are catching them up on the dodo scale.
My own circumstances are tied up in what's going on around like 99.9% of us. My day-job is at the mercy of a group of people who think they're surgeons, but are in fact local butchers on speed, with all the aptitude of a nutter wielding a scalpel shouting "slice, slice, SLICE!" In the publishing world, my books are at the mercy of the bean counters who are shouting "Sell now! Sell now! SELL NOW!" In both cases I'm at the mercy of really panicky, impatient people. A shame really, as in both areas of work, patience is more than a virtue. In my day-job, the cogs are so huge that if you stare at just one part of the machinery it doesn't seem to be moving, yet step back and you know the machinery is moving actually better than most machines in other countries and it actually has a purpose. In the writing, again patience is something bookselling needs: patience to get the best book from the author to the publisher; patience to get the book selling from someone quite unknown. Patience, patience, PATIENCE!
In the bitey world, there's no room for patience. From anyone really. We need time to breath, to escape the teeth if only for a short while, and not have to look over our shoulders for that dark, looming shape that wants to sink they're teeth into our butt. Unfortunately, in both parts of my working life, there's no bus ride out of "bitey-world", but I'm learning to navigate the path ahead, to give that grizzly the slip, even if it isn't something I would wish, nor - as in my writing - my readership would wish.
The on-going situation with the Secret War books may well be something that will fall foul of the recession. Like it or not, getting a series published in the middle by another publisher is a tall order at the best of times. During a recession, it's something only a genius can achieve, and while I have one on my side now (see the news in the last blog entry) I'm making preparations for a suspension of work on the next Secret War novel to concentrate on one of the many other projects I wanted to pursue later. The decision is a prudent one given the state of play and while it's partly driven by financial considerations (I'm loathed to say) I want to give the next Secret War novel a chance and the current situation doesn't do that. The new project, a book called "Purgatory", comes at the right time. It plugs into what's happening in my working life and my private life, and has the advantage that it's a shorter book than the next Secret War novel and is a big enough departure to come back refreshed and try another side of my writing I haven't explored. Unlike The Black Hours (which I'll be completing at the end of the month) "Purgatory" will not be discussed in any detail on this blog - this project is being kept largely under wraps due to the plot and the genre. The idea is quite original, so I've been advised to keep it to myself until it's all done, otherwise I may find those gnashing teeth getting a bit close for comfort.
As for the Secret War… Well it hasn't been chewed up and spat out quite yet. It's a series I will complete - I've done too much work for it not to be; I just need the time and space to do it, something which that grizzly of recession isn't allowing me to do. But I am flexible, and I now have a spirit-guide to advise me on what to do next so yeah, things are biting, and it's hard not to let your head drop, but you keep on going and ignore that sharp, hollow crack of snapping jaws and teeth behind you, and remind yourself that you're in control.
At least for a little while...