Three and a half years ago I decided that if I was ever going to be a writer I would have to, you know, nail my ass to a chair and write. I figured I’d give myself five years to make this little hobby of mine a real thing. I also took Ira Glass’s famous quote about creative work to heart and acknowledged it would be a very long time before my writing didn’t suck.
My mindset since has veered between unbridled optimism, searing arrogance, and crippling insecurity. Thankfully, after a few boastful announcements at the start, some of my more pleasant friends responded with things like, “Well you don’t finish a lot of things you start, good luck.” And “Do you know how hard that is? It probably won’t work.”
Those comments still keep me going. Ahh spite, you old dear friend. How you’ve kept me company when times were tough.
Armed with motivation and the understanding that my work would be garbage in the beginning, I forged ahead. In the last three and a half years I’ve written:
- An absolutely horrid novella shamelessly based on the movie Angel Heart
- A fun but meandering novel called Purgatory, NY. I cringe when I think of anybody actually reading it. (This is to become a theme)
- A “trunk novel” that never saw the light of day because I got to the end and realized I’d muddled the concept and the plot was incoherent. Maybe I’ll unfuck it someday
- Twenty or so short stories, ranging from some early ones I’m still proud of, like “Norman” about an alcoholic gnome, to others which I have happily assigned to the OH GOD WHAT WAS I THINKING pile.
- A graphic novel script that was put on hold for my round the world adventure
- Selected the stories that I actually liked and (stop me if you’ve heard this) published them in the collection A Familiar Face
- A new novel draft that I’m SO fucking happy with, titled Petifleur and The Colored City
- Six or seven more shorts
- Several travel essays on this here blog
- Begun plotting a very genre, very Urban Fantasy trilogy
Through those projects I’ve absorbed a far better understanding of character, plot, and structure. I say absorbed not because the multitudes of books and blog posts on those subjects are written in cuneiform, but because it takes grinding work to internalize those concepts in practice. My stories have something resembling a story arc now, and my characters are even beginning to sprout a third dimension.
Doesn’t feel too shabby, but when I realize there are authors who started publishing three years ago and have 18 books out, I put a pretty hard check on my self congratulations. I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished but I need to do a lot more and that’s apparent.
It’s been a hell of a journey so far. Thanks to everybody who reads my stuff, especially those of you who found the good in my early work. Thanks to those who expressed skepticism and triggered my rebellious pride. Thanks to the best beta reader I could ever hope to have, my lovey girlfriend Laura who is amazing and patient. A girl so supportive that she got me a pair of vintage roller skates when Purgatory, NY was finished. I got a bit weepy over that one.
I have come a long way from primary school short stories about dragons and guys with machine guns for arms, and an even longer way since that first novella three and a half years ago. I still feel like a rank amateur and I’m not sure that’ll ever go away, but at least I’m putting one foot in front of the other. Thanks so much for reading.