Jay Lake: Writer

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[Cancer, Publishing]

[publishing|cancer] Some good news, and some career thoughts

First of all, my recent Asimov’s steampunk lost colony religious novella, “The Stars Do Not Lie”, has been acquired by Gardner Dozois for next year’s edition of Year’s Best Science Fiction. I am quite pleased, and also more than slightly boggled to be included at novella length. I’m pretty familiar with word count budgets in anthologies, after all.

Yay me!

This is a small glimmer of good news in what has otherwise been a discouraging couple of years for me in my career. Cancer and its discontents have cut my overall productivity by at least half. My mortality odds combined with my treatment paths mean I’ll likely not write very many more books in my lifetime — two if I’m a little lucky, maybe a few more if I’m a lot lucky. Even short fiction is a real challenge. I expect to be able to finish “Rock of Ages”, my METAtropolis: Green Space novella, before my brain fries out completely, but I won’t likely write any more new fiction before June of next year.

All of this means the Sunspin project is two years behind schedule. It means due to productivity issues and a lack of ability to respond to market requirements, I’ll be pretty much losing my shelf space in the Tor stable after Kalimpura is published. It means my short fiction output has tumbled to handful of stories a year. It probably means my career is never really going to come back, unless we beat some serious odds and put this cancer down and I have some years of run room to build back up to my old pace of writing.

At the same time, my social and public role in the field continues to diminish. I’m not at World Fantasy Convention right now due to chemotherapy. I won’t make any convention or public appearances between now and Memorial Day of 2013 at the earliest. Depending on how quickly and vigorously my cancer comes back after this round, my window for future appearances may be slim to none.

I’ve said off and on having cancer is like dying by degrees. The disease drives everyone around me to distraction, desperation and beyond. It saps my energy, my time, my parenting, my writing, my ability to love and live. It’s eroded everything from my publishing career to my sexuality.

Loss. So much of my life is loss.

Yet still I write. Still I celebrate my successes, such as this YBSF nod. Still I plan future projects and seek creative ways (such as collaboration) to get existing projects to market. Because as sad and dire as this all makes me feel, I don’t give up.

I just wish I didn’t have to fight so hard to retain less and less every year.

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