Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blog the Seventh: Changes and Decisions

From the beginning, I've said this blog would be about my family, our journey with Autism Spectrum Disorders, my faith and writing - the emphasis being I'd only mention writing as it intersected with the others.  Figured the blogosphere didn't need any more blog entries about "adverbs: kill them on sight" or "how to market your unpublished novel".  Plenty of folks doing that much better than me.

This post, however, is about writing - as it intersects with the more important things.  Or rather, it deals with all the things that come with writing, but that I've recently realized (by recently, I mean the past 6-7 months)  have very little to do with the words themselves.

See, I've decided - well, have always felt, but now am convinced - that only one thing really matters (in regards to pursuing a writing career):

Writing.  The words themselves.  And, very soon, I'm going to whittle down everything until only that remains.

The last two years have been unbelievable.  I've had some stuff published.  Not only was writing Hiram Grange & The Chosen One a revelatory experience, people seem to like it, too.  I don't mind saying that as of this point, my first solo work has already garnered several recommendations for the Bram Stoker Award.  Even if it doesn't get nominated, that's a mind-blower, to me.

I've been to Cons.  Met people I'd only read and read about.   Learned to mingle.  Even shed my "deer in headlights" look, as Big Sister would say.   Made some contacts, though really I've made friends, which is more important.  And I've LEARNED.

So much.

Also, some opportunities are there.  For bigger things.   Stuff I can't talk about yet, because they're flimsy.  Insubstantial.  May not materialize at all.  One thing, for certain, is clear.

I have to face some hard facts. No more Cons after Horrorfind 2010, maybe for a year.  Or longer.   Maybe Context,  but I can't afford the rest. The house needs renovations, we have bills to pay, and as usual, we're riding the edge.  All that can and scrap collecting? Gonna need it for other things.

I have other decisions to make.  What do I want to be most?  A novelist?  An editor?  A short story writer?  An inspirational nonfiction writer?  Generally, I'd just say I love to write, period, which covers all those things.

But, honestly?  Novelist.  C'mon.  That's always been the goal.  That form (along with novella) suits me best.  I'll  write short stuff - when solicited.   Other than that, we focus on novels for now.

But that doesn't mean a slew of small press novels.  See, I need to slow down.  Calculate.  Be cautious.  I'll never be a rich, famous author.  But, what do I want, really?

Respect.  Critical acclaim.  Fans.   Exposure.   I want to be content with whatever writing success God blesses me with.  That's very, very important.  But I don't want to SETTLE.  To coin a phrase from a fellow writer friend, when asked what HE wanted in his career, he said:

"I want Peter Straub's career."

Sounds crazy.  But it's true.  I want Peter Straub's career.  I want Ted Dekker's career.  I want to be compared to Dean Kootnz.  I want my novels to be as obsessively readable as T. L. Hines.  I want to be a breakout like Travis Thrasher.

It's nuts.  Totally unrealistic.

But I want it.  That won't happen by cranking out one novel after another.   Besides, I don't write fast like that.  Not well, anyway.

The family connection?  Well, here's the thing.

My place is at home.  With my family.  Supporting my wife.  Making good financial decisions.  Not spending more time writing than being with them.  I figure, a novel a year is a good pace.   Doesn't strain us too much.

We've been blessed with two wonderful children who have specific needs.  I've taken a peek into the big world of publishing...and I'm worried about the impact it will have on my family.

But ironically - or maybe not - my writing goals are changing in ways that makes the pursuit of writing more family friendly.  See, right now - it's about the words.  That's it.  At this point in my career, there's no need to be on the road.  Once a year is fine.  And besides, even if I did have a big book out there that needed marketing....

Would it be worth it?  The time away?

"But Kevin, how can you have that career you want without doing all that other stuff?"

This says it all: 

"In the end, the only thing that really generates book sales is excellent storytelling" - James Scott Bell 

Another thing - that goal of wider distribution, bigger market?  There might be one of those waiting, but if an offer is made...sacrifices will have to be made.

And I'll make them.   Because the funny thing is, what they're asking to sacrifice will actually serve my family in the long run, and you know what, one thing will still remain:

The words.  The writing.  The story.  Strip away everything else - and that's all that matters.  If I can focus on those and make a stab at something bigger in the process....

Now THAT's a story...