But unfortunately, the funds just weren't there. Also, my wife decided to attend her cousin's wedding that weekend, making a swing through to see her uncle (who hadn't been doing well at the time, and just passed away recently), then also swinging by to see other family.
So I stayed home and did duty with the kids that weekend.
While everyone I knew in the horror genre (it seemed) was off at World Horror. And apparently, by most everyone's testimony, it was one of the best World Horror Conventions in quite some time.
Now, I had a good time with the kids. I wasn't really as bummed as all that. But, I can honestly say it was a little disheartening to watch all the Twitter and Facebook updates about WHC from home. Probably wouldn't have been so bad if Abby had been home, but with her on the road? Yeah, I can honestly admit. I was a bit bummed about missing out.
However, Norman Patridge (one of my favorite authors, no less) stopped by my blog to offer some encouragement, in the form of a movie quote from Rocky III:
Whenever I have to miss a con I really want to attend, I just channel my inner Mr. T from ROCKY III: "I live alone. I train alone. I win the title alone."
Hope that works for you, pard.
And not only did that word of encouragement help, it's also stuck with me. I printed that snippet out, taped it to the wall right above my desk, where I stare at it every day before I write:
"I live alone. I train alone. I win the title alone."
Now, we can't go through life - or even a writing career - alone, depending on only ourselves. But I don't think that's the point of this quote, the way Norm was using it to encourage me. The point - I think, being an avid reader of Norm's blog - is that, in the end, the most important thing in writing is just that: THE WRITING. Without the writing, Cons would be irrelevant. So would marketing, or developing a "brand", or an "online presence upon which to develop a platform to market your work". Without the writing...
NONE OF THIS MATTERS.
And that must be done alone. At your desk with pen in hand, in front of the computer, "rattling the keys", as Norm likes to say. Many folks are involved in a successful writing career - good folks, too - who are there to help, give advice, critique, or even in Norm's case, offer a kind, encouraging word. But the biggest journey - transferring thoughts and ideas and images in your head to words on the page - is one that must be undertaken alone.
So since that point a year ago, I've endeavored to focus only on that solitary pursuit of writing. And I'm not gonna lie, it's often been a struggle - accepting things that maybe I didn't want to accept - but I've endeavored to push aside everything else that's just NOT IMPORTANT (but often gets tagged on to a writing career) and just WRITE.
So this year, missing World Horror didn't sting. In fact, knowing I'll be missing most of the Cons this upcoming year? I'm totally fine with that.
Because I'm writing. Every day. Sometimes twice a day. Sometimes all morning, on weekends and days off. I'm almost done with my first novel, a novel I wasn't expecting to write, but found myself drawn to. I've got two short stories coming out. A novella suddenly blooming NOW, when I wasn't planning on getting to it until summer.
And things are actually happening. Not stuff I can talk about - because they exist in speculation, only - but still some really nice possibilities have come up. And I can't say, really, if those things have come about because of the Cons I've attended or not.
But I do know they've come about because of my writing. Because that's the only thing in this gig you can truly control, how often and how well you write. And that can be done anywhere.
At home in my basement office. At the kitchen table.
At the library, or Barnes & Noble.
During my lunch-break at school, or during Library Study-hall duty.
Alone. That's the only part you can control, is seeking out the very solitary pursuit of writing.
To me, that's a win-win. Because, hey, in the end....
WRITING is the part I love most.
Just stuff I can't control.
Thanks again, Norm.