I’ve been thinking all day about what I would post today and have tried to gather my thoughts into something cogent.
Helix mules philosophical diatribes green grass watusi.
Clearly I’ve failed.
Allow me to give that another go.
I went to the ‘Authorpalooza’ mega-signing event that happened today at the Orem, Utah, Barnes & Noble. By the way, I have to thank my friend Sterling Nixon for reminding me about the event by coming to my house and dropping off a flyer.
Anyway, he’s in my ward and is a pal. Interestingly, he also married the daughter of my favorite high school teacher. Small world.
So when I got back from helping someone move, I saw the reminder and immediately said, “Graglebonnet.” Okay, maybe not that exact word, but whatever I said it encapsulated the following feeling perfectly:
A bunch of local Utah authors are gathering in a bookstore, in other words a fantasy wonderland, to sign their books, hobnob with other authors, and visit with adoring fans. I suck because I haven’t got a book ready to sell yet and I’m freaking 36 and I should be at that freaking event with a freaking book ready to go and the only freaking reason I’m not is because I let myself screw around when I should be freaking writing and revising and spending every spare cubic milliliter of energy I have on making my dream happen.
So I said “Graglebonnet,” or something very similar.
Do you see the vanity?
Given all of this, I wrote the title above at first without the question mark. Then I got to thinking.
I’ve launched my official website and I own my domain. I’ve met and talked to some spectacular authors over the last few months. I’ve moved seriously forward on my current work in progress, Servant of the King and have a plan to finish it and then revise a previous novel and start digging up a literary agent. I also have recently been trying on a new schedule and am falling in love with going to bed early and getting up really early and writing in the morning margin of the day. I am more disciplined, focused and capable than I have ever been.
So I’m impatient, but not really discontented. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about the craft and am excited, for the first time EVER, to go back and revise my books. I am jittery about starting another new novel project that has been percolating for some time now.
Hoo boy, I can’t wait to be able to talk about it here! Lots of nifty ideas are stewing about this world, the people and culture and a story that I just can’t wait to write. Here’s the kicker, I think it MIGHT be an epic fantasy. It has all the trappings, but I’ve never, no not ever, well hardly ever, imagined myself as an epic fantasy writer.
I will stop now.
Back to my thoughts.
Becoming a writer, to me, has always been about getting a book on the shelves and selling it and supporting my family with what I love to do– tell stories. But when I get deeper, it’s also been about proving to the people I’ve known my whole life that I can do it. However, they have never doubted me, that I know of. They certainly don’t spend much time at all thinking about me and my career intentions.
Why would they? We’ve all moved on in life.
So that’s just repulsive vanity and I will continue to fight it.
What this all adds up to, my friends (if you’re still with me here), is that becoming a writer is NOT about getting a book on the shelves and saying, “I’m a published writer.” It can’t be about that to me anymore.
And as I’ve come to this very sweet place in my life, I feel good about it. Then I’m at Authorpalooza and I overhear Brandon Sanderson saying this very thing to an adoring fan and obviously aspiring writer. He said, and this is a near quote, “First, don’t write to sell. Selling comes later. Your first step is to write because you have a story to tell. Write your art and your craft. Write the best book you can because you want to do good art. Then become a businessman and sell that book.”
I have a lot of respect for Brandon.
So enough with comparing my age with other young, successful authors. Enough with comparing success. Enough with jealousy, coveting and impatience.
I want to make sure I am writing because I love a story and want to tell it and discover it as I tell it. I want to find truth in myself, the world around me, and my characters and put some of that truth in my story. I want to stop saying, “I wish I’d been as original as Garth Nix, or as diligent as Brandon Sanderson, or as dedicated as Dan Wells, or as devoted as R.A. Salvatore.”
Instead I want to say, “Well done. I love (author’s) writing because of this, that and the other.”
I am no longer discontented. I am still impatient and vain, but I am going to fight that hard and write, write, write.
I invite you to do the same. Let me know how it goes, and I will do the same for you.