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On Asking “When Will You Write Another Book?”

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Jessi Lewis

Staff Writer

Jessi Lewis has her MFA in fiction and an MA in Writing and Rhetoric. She was one of the founding editors of Cheat River Review and now works to bring her own fiction, poetry and essays to eyes each month.     Twitter: @jessiwrit

adamson, outlanderI’ve wanted to track down Gil Adamson and ask her when her next book will appear in a store near me ever since I read her book, The Outlander. Note that I’m not talking about Diana Gabaldon’s line of novels, but instead a single book emphasizing the intensity of the Canadian wilderness for one woman fleeing from her own crime.

I had the same hope that Zadie Smith might come through with something new soon, and then I was met with the awesome news that she will oblige my hope with a new novel, Swing Time. Ever since White Teeth, I’ve been following this lady’s work as best as I can. The world has lucked out with another round from Zadie.

But in regards to Gil’s work, I have to keep in mind another book’s birth into the world is my hope and not necessarily the author’s. If you Google “When will you write another book?” it’s clear that this question is inescapable for many authors on hiatus. And, especially for a writer who has been AWOL for a long time, this is probably one of the primary pressures they do not want.

While it’s lovely that we love their books and want more and MORE, there are many reasons that authors do not produce another. They might struggle with representation or the sales of their last book. They might have had a change in lifestyle (i.e. a kid, a marriage, a death or general distraction), a change in employment, or even a shift in philosophy away from writing. Interestingly enough, readers can forget that they are not the only influences on the production of another novel.

The truth is, writing is a tricky employment, or even lifestyle, since it somehow seems to divide the writer’s life into multiples. I will only ever know Gil Adamson as the novelist, but I will never know her in her personal life. I cannot expect to be able to connect with her on that level, even if I really feel like I could. (Though she’s always welcome to find me on the Internet, or have coffee with me. Notice how creepy this sounds? And there’s a really good chance an author might read what you write about them…. Oh, hey there, Gil.)

What’s wonderful about reading specific authors and keeping up with their work is that they become mini celebrities in your own mind so that even if you can recognize that they aren’t fantastically famous in other people’s worlds, this almost makes them more unique and special for you.

But, they are people. And writing another book places a lot of expectation, hours of work, and a very isolated lifestyle on the shoulders of someone who may be taking a long over due break from this.

I want to find another way to support a writer rather than demand they become a book machine, like discussing and writing about my favorite books that aren’t necessarily on people’s minds anymore because the market has moved on or because there’s another book with a very similar title (Hope it works, Gil. I loved that book so much.).

So I suppose the moral here is:

New novels take the time that most people in the world cannot devote. Maybe we should be a little less demanding of our favorites. Love what you got in front of you, and when in desperation, send some kind thoughts in your favorite author’s direction, reread that novel and hug it tight to your chest.