The Five Year Update
Today marks the five year anniversary of my writing full-time. The time has been fast, but it has also been a lifetime, something I worked toward forever and then, once achieved, haven’t really appreciated as I should. And while time is relative and calendars are arbitrary, five years makes for a nice and comfortable chunk. So today, a reflection.
I tell people that writing is really the only thing I’m good at. That’s not entirely true, but it’s the one clear talent I have, the one thing I’ve done for as long as I can remember and have always been a little gifted with. I wrote my first stories at a very young age, and decided it was what I wanted to do while still in elementary school (the only other profession I claimed an interest in was inventor, when I only understood that job in terms of the Wright Brothers and Tesla. I imagined days of whirling electrical orbs and new ways to do impossible things, but then I ran head long into math and realized it wasn’t for me. All the cool stuff, the stuff you could do in your garage, had already been done) and while I had a clear inclination for writing, I didn’t take concrete steps in that direction for a long time.
Once I started writing, though, I burned fast and bright. My first professional sale came in six months, and within five years I was selling every story I wrote. I had the attention of a great agent, so when I sold my first novel (on spec! what!) I was convinced that all of the good things were happening in the order they were meant to happen. And then they didn’t. I’ve told that story often enough. Go through the archives if it’s news to you, but five years after my first book came out I was pretty deep in the doldrums of an unremarkable career. My life was in chaos, personally and professionally. I had become self-destructive.
Part of coming out of that meant quitting my job and jumping out into an abyss of uncertainty. All credit and love for this go to my wife, without whom I would be a broken thing. Without whom I certainly wouldn’t be here, and happy, and on the way back up.
The first few years of writing full time were tough. I wrote a book, then I rewrote it, then I rewrote it again. I accumulated a lot of rejections. I started to doubt. And when I did sell it, that necessitated another rewrite, perhaps truer to my original vision of the book, but certainly different than what I had produced after three years of hard work. Nothing worth doing is easily done.
And now we’re here. The Pagan Night has sold well, certainly better than anything I’ve produced before, but it hasn’t been life changing. The Iron Hound was difficult, and I’m in the first round of revisions on it, and it’s not any easier. I’ve started The Winter Vow, but can’t get any further into it without resolving some issues in book two. It’s all a process, but one that I wish would get easier. Maybe it has, and I’ve just moved the goalposts, aimed for a better book. I don’t know. But it still feels like writing my first words.
What else? In the in between bits I’ve written a book called Wraithbound, which may or may not ever see the light of day, but which I quite enjoy. I’ve written half a dozen short stories, only two or three of which have sold. I’ve started four different YA novels, producing maybe thirty to forty thousand words on each before fizzling out. I’m just not sure I know how to write YA to my satisfaction or the market’s expectations. The first full novel I wrote was YA, and it was good enough to get the attention of my agent, but far from publishable. That might be a road I’ll never fully walk.
I’ve also written a dozen or so projects for various game companies, returning to the discipline that first published me (in college) and making enough to support my miniatures habit. I may do more of that, or less, or keep going at the current rate. Who knows?
So. Five years, which is fifteen years after I started writing with intent, and forty-four years after I was born, and God knows how many more to come. But if I put everything into each year, and each day, and each word… well. What more can we ask for? What more can we want?