Don’t Know, Can’t Care

by Laura Anne Gilman

Yesterday, someone asked me what the on-spec manuscript I’ve been working on, was.

My answer: a story.

No, they said, what kind of story?

With words, and characters, and Stuff Happening and their world changing, even if The World doesn’t change for them.

But what genre? they insisted. Is it fantasy? SF? YA? Mainstream? Is it Steampunk or UF? What is it?

I don’t know. Or yeah, I kind of know, because there’s magic and there’s adventure, and there’s growing up and there’s dying and there’s love and faith and the loss of same, and guns and horses and snark and drama…

But I don’t know what kind of story it is. Agent Guy and I have discussed this, and come to no real conclusion except: it’s the story I need to write right now. And when it’s done, then we’ll worry about it.

Because yeah, I’m immersed in the business side of things, as much as I can bear.  I know that to keep going, I have to hit the market, keep up sales, find new readers without losing too many of the old, all that.

But there are times when thinking too much about the business of writing – the marketing and the promotion, stressing about the tropes and the memes and the audience expectations – gets in the way of the simple stillness of telling.

So yeah, when this is done, we’ll figure out what it is, what I’ve done.  Right now, I can’t think about all that.  I’m writing.

What do you think: smart brain-management, crazy as a fox survival tactic, or writerly denial?


– originally posted at Laura Anne Gilman: Writer, Editor, Tired Person.-


About Laura Anne Gilman

Laura Anne is a recovering editor-turned-novelist, with an Endeavor Award, a Nebula nomination, another Endeavor award nomination and a Washington State Book Award nomination under her belt. Her most recent series is the award-winning "Devil's West" trilogy, starting with SILVER ON THE ROAD, and her same-universe story collection, WEST WINDS' FOOL, AND OTHER STORIES OF THE DEVIL'S WEST. The novella GABRIEL'S ROAD was published by Book View Cafe on April 30th, 2019. Her Patreon, featuring original fiction, writing advice, and original Rants, is at Learn more at, where you can sign up for her quarterly newsletter.


Don’t Know, Can’t Care — 4 Comments

  1. Not denial at all — writer brain doing what it should — following the story that is there and staying true to the vision of that story.

  2. Paul – There is a concern that saying “it’s YA” or “it’s adult” (or “New Adult”) might limit what someone will/won’t do in the storytelling, but I grew up reading fantasy before there was a defined YA/adult split, and I probably couldn’t find that split in my writing without a running start, after the fact. So there’s one invisible rabbit I’m not chasing. 🙂

  3. Nor can I. The book is going to be what it is going to be, and if the heroine ages from 16 to 24 (thus passing out of the YA frame), then tough.