Here’s a nice long one to cool down with:
Now then, it’s going to be a bit of a different one this time:
A big fat reflection on what the heck I’ve been doing for the past twelve years –
I feel like I’ve finally figured it out, reader. Congratulations to myself, and congratulations to you. I’m confident you’ll have to endure far less schizophrenic mania from me in the years to come.
Of course, I tend to say things like that when I’m in a bright mood, but it’s not even a bright mood, it’s a strange, buried confidence of some kind – something that connects directly to who I have become and what my plans are.
As you probably know, sales for the vast majority of what I write are abysmally low, as not only do I hardly have the time to market the books like a full time author, but I tend to devote most all of my free resources to book covers (a necessary evil in our enlightened age) and things to increase the scope of our little Holyverse.
Perhaps that’s a silly plan, but I’m growing ever more confident that it’s not about finding a lot of readers quickly, but building something that attracts the right readers forever and ever.
I realize now that I’m not a “Fantasy Sci-Fi” author in the typical sense, as if it were some cool badge with a dragon and spaceship to pin on your shirt at conventions. And besides, the Horror badge is much cooler, and has a sick skull on it with a bunch of blood.
“Multi-genre” comes to mind, but I think that label is a bit simplistic. It’s not like I write a to-market, perfectly to-genre fantasy one day and then turn around and do the same with thriller. Everything becomes blurred: gray like a misted horizon in the evening. If you haven’t seen this in the books yet, just give it some time and a few more novels: I think you’ll start seeing those little masts in the mist racing by as well.
Either way, I’m getting off track. This isn’t really a reflection on genre.
I’ve been writing a reasonably long time now by my estimation, about twelve years, and I don’t feel the same anxiety that I did at the ten year mark. Two years ago, I had to lean back and look at all that had happened, and to put it shortly, I was sort of sad. Ten years of effort, roughly 20 books (hardly half of which have been published) and what did I really have to show for it?
I asked myself: “What really is the value of what you’ve done? Pushing aside your desire for it to mean something, and the well-intentioned conclusions of meaning from others, what does it truly give history and the world?”
I was forced to keep myself going with the simple answer of: “It does mean something, but I can’t say what!”
Long were the days I fought, and long were the nights I schemed, but time and again the success I believed I needed to see would evade my grasp. Surely, if the books were good, they would sell. If they were poor, they would not sell. I went on believing that I wrote things that only I loved, and that those around me who said they enjoyed them and pulled meaning from them were only humoring me. Time has passed. Lessons have been learned. Looking back I don’t see how I could have held onto hope for so long.
Now, however, I feel like I have the perspective; at least a great deal more of it.
By visiting this line of thought, I’ve drawn up the net to look at my metaphorical fish, and saw the great tuna that’s been waiting there the entire time. There’s a great value in self-introspection, I tell you: there are things you can gain by sitting in a room alone with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company than by being the greatest ruler of the greatest country.
As for the genre: It is all fantasy, but it is also all literature. The books are connected in a way that not even a so called “ambitious” crossover like The Avengers could match. The books have been constructed specifically to be
“crossed over”. It’s not simply that two worlds collide and characters try to brush up something to delight the readers, The Holy Verses aren’t intended to be a crossover, because it’s not a crossover at all, once you think about it.
The series, they are separate, but you will not go a single one without recognizing someone or something from one of the other books. It’s a massive plan, and the quietness in sales is simply due to people not stepping far out enough to see the bigger picture yet: nothing more. All it will take is enough books to slowly walk a reader out, and then all of a sudden it will click. It is something so big that it must be built for many years before people can even understand what it is.
It is simple to say “I’m writing a thriller series” and have people nod their head. It is something else entirely to speak of the Holy Verses and expect someone to understand right away.
There’s a lot of work to do, but rest assured, I will do it – I will not stop, and so it is inevitable that it will be built: The Great Work.
Perhaps twelve years ago, I had some inkling of what I was about to partake in the first time I opened up that laptop to just “write” a story. In fact I hardly know where the urge came from. It’s mysterious in that special way, like you’re suddenly dropped somewhere entirely new and you discover something that changes you forever – What a joy life is, that we can live so many years and still discover things anew.
Despite failure or success, sickness or health, I will continue the thing I have started. I know we still have some decades ahead of us together, so here’s hoping it’s fun! You and I will be getting to know one-another very well over these years, I hope.
The twisting road of time has many lessons for us, and I will never call my bets entirely, but I can tell you that I will always have The Great Work in my heart, as I hope it will be in yours one day.
…Yup, reading this over makes me sound like a total schizo – oh well; time will be the judge of that too, I suppose.
Even with that said, it’s something I’m going to be continually pushing into. I will build and build and build, as slowly and conscientiously as I need to until I can break away from my formal work and become a writer full time. I acknowledge people will zoom in on the imperfections or the things they don’t understand, and use these findings to dismiss what I’m attempting to do, but with each passing day the burden of proof shifts towards them, not me. I can go the distance, and their criticism cannot follow to the places I’m attempting to bring my readers. The day will come when people will step back and witness the shape of what all of the books are forming, and that will be the moment they understand my madness.
Further and further I fall down this hole: cutting the chaff away and refining my processes. I have to secure time – I finally recognize it as my greatest resource. I must finish in time. It is both a curse and a blessing to love and sacrifice so much for this – I’m curious what the future will look like. After all of this is over, what kind of work will be left?
Anyway, I’ll cut it here, for risk of driving you out of your mind. Thanks a lot for reading, and please look forward to lots more in the future, because time’s the only thing separating us from it. I get that this isn’t the typical sort of email update, and so if you were desperately looking froward to the norm, I ask you accept my apologies.
Perhaps more than ever a “lot” is going on in my personal world. I’m actually quite concerned I won’t be able to meet the upcoming novel deadlines – not simply in editing like I usually am, but the actual novels themselves. It’s painful to think that I’ve let the readers down, but as with anything, some things simply aren’t worth showing off until they’re done.
I hope you’re doing well. I know each individual human experience brings with it individual problems custom-made to give us an appropriate amount of suffering. I’d like to remind you that you can email me and we can chat whenever you need a listening ear. I write to you all the time if we’re being honest, so I feel like it’s only fair if you write me back every once in a while, right?
Whatever you decide, I hope your day is outstanding, and that you continue to do your very best in everything you do: we both know history will not settle for less!
Onward and Inkward,
(P.S. Please leave reviews when you’re done reading books! Even if the feedback is negative I want to hear what you have to say. After all, how else does the student improve than by the red pen of their peer? Thank you. )