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Necessary

Near as I can tell, I wrote two things in 2018, which is an all-time low for me. I wrote “Kill Your Darlings (Silicone Sister Remix)” (out now in Do Not Go Quietly) and The Ebon Jackal, the last Folley & Mallory book (also out now).

Last week, I finished a novella. I wrote it without a market in mind; I wrote it just to write it, and that was liberating, as it let me noodle with an idea and see where it went. (It didn’t go where I intended? Where I thought?) But.

I wrote it just to write it.

I had the good damn luck to meet Sara Saab this summer — too briefly, but pancakes were involved — and we had time to talk about writing, and how so often we don’t write just to write. We write with an aim to publish, or we write for an audience. We don’t write for the sake of writing or we don’t write just for ourselves.

And that felt like a heck of a thing. To write something for yourself, because you want to. To take an idea out for a walk and see where it goes.

I don’t know that I will sell this novella, and that’s okay. It would be a nice bonus, I see a couple places it could go, but ultimately, writing the thing — and finishing it — were the goals.

Getting my writer brain back after Shimmer closed has been a heck of a thing, too. Shimmer closed to submissions a year ago (a year ago yesterday!), and I wrapped up my work on it in Januaryish 2019. And after that, I just wanted to lie on the floor.

I’ve spent a lot of that time thinking about writing, and talking about writing. I’ve spent a lot that time editing things that are not Shimmer. There is definitely a learning curve to the entire thing — regaining my creative brain.

Reading drafts from fellow authors I admire has also been vital to this process; seeing how a work comes together, seeing how a person begins. And you’re thinking “Elise! You’ve been publishing for nineteen years! How do you not know how to begin.”

And that’s when I’d just laaaaauuugh because sure, I know how to begin, but also I had to relearn it.

Here’s what I learned: it’s okay to not publish for a while (forever). It’s okay to write something for yourself. It’s okay to write for the sake of writing.

In fact, perhaps it’s necessary. Go finish the thing you haven’t finished. Even if only for yourself.

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