One of my goals for December was to get two blog posts up.
Ah. Guess I’d best get typing before my New Year’s Eve champagne.
New Year’s Eve invites reflection and retrospectives, and I’ll tell you right now, there isn’t much I want to do less than reflect on 2017. To put it bluntly, it was a bad year. I’ve certainly had worse ones–after all, I lived with an alcoholic for a while a few decades back, and that was daily torture–but from an artistic standpoint, 2017 was horrid. It’s all well and good to think “no problem, I’ll just start over” when you’ve been told explicitly that you can’t, that you’re done, that there’s no path forward at all.
Except here I am.
The reality is I don’t know where I stand with all of this. I’ve heard stories that give me hope, and stories that make me want to lay down the pen and never pick it up again. I won’t lie: it’s easy to be bitter, even with the knowledge that there are no absolutes in publishing, that never isn’t really a thing. Whether or not this year marks the end my professional career isn’t something over which I have much control.
But I am not without power. I can write. And I am writing. And I choose–today, at least–to look back on 2017 as a year of invaluable education.
I wrote an entire book in 2017. I drafted it in six months. I’ve never written anything so quickly before. It’s in revisions, and I’m contemplating how extensive I want those to be, but I think it’s a Something.
I’ve got an extra-rough draft of Central Corps #4. As with all of these books, the themes are creeping up on me sideways, but so far I like where it’s going. One of the things I like about writing a series is that there are so many events to explore from multiple angles. I kind of blew everything up at the end of BREACH, and I enjoy dealing with the debris raining down on my characters. And I love playing the “what-if” game in a universe I know so well.
I have met new people. Readers. Writers. There are a lot of lovely people in publishing, but some of the most supportive ones are fellow writers. No matter our relative success or failure, we’re all freelancers in the same business. We all choose to face that blank page. I’ve found reflexive compassion and generosity in the community of writers of all genres.
I have learned how, as someone so eloquently put, the sausage is made. This information was not at all useful for me in the midst of it, but should I ever get another shot, I have a much, much better idea of what questions to ask and where I do and do not want to compromise.
I have realized that despite the fact that I knew nothing about the publishing business when I started querying a zillion years ago, I actually have a tremendous amount of relevant experience. I’ve worked for corporations large and small. I’ve worked with contractors. I know the financial calculus made by people at various levels, and I know how impersonal most of it is.
But more importantly, I’ve been a reader my whole life. I’ve been buying books in various genres for more than 40 years. And yes, this matters. I thought I was a hopeless naif going into all this, but really the most naive thing I did was allow myself to keep believing that.
In most of the ways that matter, publishing is a business like any other. There are no “gatekeepers,” no people conspiring to keep you out because you didn’t go to Clarion West or you didn’t name your heroine after their favorite revolutionary or you didn’t perfectly match their #mswl. There are just regular people, most of whom love books, doing the best they can to find stuff they can sell. Sometimes they get it spectacularly right, and sometimes they don’t. Just like the rest of us.
I have now had too much champagne, and I must wrap this up before midnight strikes and I fail at my blogging goal. I’ll be writing about what I plan to do in 2018 as well, but not tonight.
Tonight is just another night. And tonight the odometer turns over.
Tomorrow, my friends, we ride into battle.