Lisa Shearin, National Bestselling Author

Update on The Gorgon Agenda (SPI Files 8)

Uncategorized Add comments

I wanted to update you all on The Gorgon Agenda (SPI Files 8). Unfortunately, it won’t be out in November as I had hoped. I’m shooting for the spring of next year. It’s only a couple more months.

I needed a break, and this time I actually took one. A month, in fact. July.

Before I wrote this email, I wanted to be sure the book (and myself) were back on track. I’m glad to say it is, and I am.

Here’s what happened. Buckle up, people. This is a long one.

Back in May and June, the book wasn’t “jelling” as I like to say. I was past the point where I’d normally stop brainstorming and start writing. This time, it wasn’t happening. I thought something might be wrong with the plot, so I went back and reviewed the 30K words I had. Nope. That wasn’t it. The plot was strong and solid. Awesome, in fact. But I still couldn’t get started. I was like a horse balking at a jump. I simply couldn’t do it. Pretty soon the thought of trying to write and not being able to would come close to bringing on a panic attack. I’ve only had those three times in my life and was in no hurry to have more.

I knew I had to stop and back away. During that month off, I did a lot of thinking and came to several big realizations about myself. First and foremost, I realized I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I’m a workaholic, or more precisely, a writeaholic. In the past five years, we’ve only taken two vacations. I wrote nearly every day of both of them, and was proud for having done so. That was another realization I had about myself: That was nothing to be proud of. Vacations are for taking a break, relaxing, and recharging. I did none of those. Plus, once I was in the final draft, I would write 7 days a week to get a book into editing and production.

If I only wrote one book a year, I felt like a failure. Other authors I know do two, three, or even four books a year. I felt something must be wrong with me that I couldn’t do that for you all. My oh-so-wise sister-in-law make me realize something that really helped. (Seconded soon after by my sister.) My books are complex, with twisty plots, intricate details, and a large ensemble cast. Not to mention the research. All that takes time. I realized she was right. That helped a lot. I really want to give you all two books a year, but I simply can’t. And by pushing and pushing myself to hit that number, I was wearing myself out, and even worse, I was not taking any time to recharge my batteries. You can’t write without recharging, and I was riding on fumes. The Gorgon Agenda will be my 20th book. And last month was the first time I’ve ever taken a significant break.

I’ve always said that after each book, I would take at least two weeks off before I even started thinking of the next one. Two weeks always turned into two days. Last July after my surgery to repair tiny holes in my inner ear (where the surgeon had to go in through my skull and move my brain aside so he could get to them), I had The Solstice Countdown finished and in editing only five months later. I was proud of that. I should’ve been mortified. I wanted so badly to get that book to you after you had to wait so long since The Phoenix Illusion while I wrote The Entity Game. Before my surgery, I moved a desk into the bedroom, and as soon as I was able to get out of bed and walk across the room, I was back at work. Two and three months after the surgery, we lost Cameron and then Odin (two of our greyhound babies) to a stroke/paralysis and bone cancer. And still I worked. Though now it was more to get through the grief. And even now, I’m tearing up typing this. Derek & I couldn’t have children (after multiple miscarriages), so our dogs are our kids. A few weeks ago, we found out that Dory (our brindle little girl greyhound) has severe renal issues, and Loki (our sweet, big boy grey) has a limp that’s not going away. The vet has ruled out cancer, and think it’s probably arthritis. (Both Dory and Loki are 10 yrs old.) We’re taking it one day at a time, and we’re at peace (at least that’s what I’m telling myself) with what may happen.

The point is, we’ve all had had events, illnesses, problems, and situations that have beaten us down over the past few years. (Thank you Covid.) We’re all absolutely worn out. We’re afraid and we’re angry, and we just want it to stop.

That’s why I’ve told you all this. Not only to explain why my output will only be one book a year and why, but also to perhaps help some of you. The past few years have been tough (hellish, even) on all of us. We’re all going through something, and are overwhelmed. That was the one word that described my emotional state perfectly: overwhelmed. It reached a point where *everything* was simply too much. Heck, I’ve stood in the kitchen more than once and cried because I couldn’t figure out what to cook for dinner, or I knew what I wanted to cook and it was too much work. I was just so tired. Everything that happened was one more weight on my shoulders. I was overwhelmed, and I simply couldn’t do or take any more.

And yes, I’ve been on both an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety med for many years. I tell myself that we writers are wired differently than everyone else. ; ) My meds are wonderful, and until Covid and overwork piled on top of them, they’ve been doing exactly what they needed to do. Unfortunately, they don’t make a pill for stubborn and stupid. I thought I could do it all and keep doing it indefinitely, and oh boy was I wrong. That’s another thing, if you need help. GET IT. See your doctor. Talk to someone. Don’t keep telling yourself that you’ve got this. Chances are you don’t. We all need help at points in our lives. Get the help you need. Don’t put it off. Reach out to your family and friends. I’m blessed with an amazing husband and family. Don’t try to do it alone.

Take time for yourselves. I am. Be kind to yourselves — and to others. A kind word or action could mean the world to the next person you see. We’re all going through something, and a little kindness goes a long way. A lot goes even farther.

I know some of you will tell me to take more time off. ; ) Rest assured, if I needed it, I would. Writing is more than what I do, writing is what I love and who I am. If I’d never had a book published, I’d still be writing. I love it, and I love sharing my stories with y’all even more. But I’ve realized that writing can’t be all that I am. I have to take time for me and those around me who I love.

We all deserve — and need — a well-rounded life. It only took me 19 books to realize it. I know now that I’m not a failure or lazy if I can’t write two or more books a year. I will take time for myself, I will not let work consume me, and I will be happier and healthier because of it. I know I won’t get there overnight. Changing a lifetime of workaholic-ism is a process, a process by which I’m getting to know myself better, be kinder to myself, and taking the time to enjoy the world and the people I love.

I’m happy to say that I’m back on track and writing The Gorgon Agenda. You are gonna love it! Maybe even more than The Solstice Countdown.

As a present to you all, I know exactly what I want for The Gorgon Agenda cover. In the next few weeks, I’m going to get Julie Dillon to work on it. Hopefully we can have the artwork to you by the holidays.

Take care, stay healthy (physically & emotionally), and be safe!

Your on-the-path-to-work/life-balance author,

Comments are closed.