I handed off the first substantive pass of Radioland a few weeks back to my editor and, lo and behold, two weekends ago found myself without a novel to work on, which was the first time (I’m not counting vacations, etc, obviously) I’ve not had a novel to work on in years. It was and is such a weird feeling.

I’ve been working on Radioland since about 2016, and last year, when it was being circulated to publishers, I was working on Book Three, which is currently simmering in a figurative pot as I wait to see if I can get any C/O/T Arts Council grants to be able to afford an editor for a substantive reading of it. I’ve never gotten a grant in my life, which is not to say that my previous applications have been sterling or anything — it’s just that I’m not hopeful. Windfalls are for other people, or so I tell myself. And yet it’s silly if I don’t try.

I’m not going to get notes from the editor on Radioland until August, and I’m trying not to reflexively fill in the intervening time with — surprise! — another writing project (though I wouldn’t put it past me). I’d like to give myself time to reflect.

I don’t like the literary world. I don’t feel I fit in, which is saying something considering writers are interloping creatures to begin with. There’s a lot of smarm, a lot of performative politics, a lot of preciousness, a lot of passive aggressive bullshit, and a lot of public ass-kissing. I don’t want to get caught up in any of it. I don’t want its insecure “loving” hypocrites, or its logrolling. All of this obscures the highlights: the truly deserving people (writers, publishers, editors, publicists, agents, reviewers, and readers) whose passion and support for others are unwavering.

I just want to write and find (let alone build) an audience. And I worry the day will come when I have to choose between belonging to the literary community (and potentially worsening my eyesight because of constant eye-rolling) or just walking away. Or I can just get off Twitter — ha.

I also want to think hard about the future projects I need to get off my chest, versus the ones that are “nice to have”. I’m over 50, and while my ability to churn out work is better than ever, I can see how it’s possible to have resentment build for projects I commit to that end up eating my weekends and spare moments. I suppose to some extent I don’t know what I want the next 50 years to look like. I know what I don’t want it to look like, let’s put it that way. Among other things, I don’t want to feel (or be made to feel) like I’m competing with people in their 20s, like in some fucked up Logan’s Run reboot, nor do I wish to see the landscape scooped by a literary version of Spotify, where we are asked to write faster for our rewards.

It’s been a long year.