Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Even Though I'm Insecure, I'm Still Thankful...But This Is No Longer "Just for Fun"

It goes without saying that I'm very thankful for everything I've accomplished so far, and I don't think I conveyed that in yesterday's post. Even though I'll always grapple with the worry that I'm not good enough, that I'll always be stuck on one "rung" and never climb any higher, I'm still very thankful for everything I've accomplished so far.

I've sold some short stories, seen my name in print, both for fiction and nonfiction in a variety of venues. I wrote a novella that's darn good and fun reading, and it was well received. I had the chance to edit a Halloween issue of a respectable magazine, edited a Lovecraftian poetry collection, sold a serial novella (which I think is my best work to date) , served as a submissions reader for Cemetery Dance Magazine, and I'm moving on to an even better editing position I can't talk about yet. 

I have some teaching opportunities coming up, I've got Horror 101 on Tales to Terrify, I have an open door to pitch Billy the Kid: Down in the Dark to a midlist publisher, and let's not forget both those novellas I'm worrying over were solicited. Even if they are turned down, that's the beginning of a relationship, pure and simple. AND, let's not forget about the upcoming collection, which I'm alternatively excited about and  SCARED OUT OF MY MIND (because of the folks reviewing it).

And yes. I have goals, still. I want to be a midlist novelist, I'd LOVE to see those novellas accepted, and I want to "up my game" when it comes to my short fiction.

But at the same time, I'm so very aware that many of the people I started this journey with fell by the wayside either immediately or got knocked aside early on, and I have no idea what they're doing, now. So I am very, very thankful for what I've been allowed to accomplish.

But I've also had to admit something to myself. This is no longer "just for fun." Yes, I love writing, enjoy every minute of it. You'll never see posts from me about being "forced to write" or grudgingly writing because I feel compelled to do so against my free will. And yes, I LOVE making up stories and my own worlds...

But somewhere along the line, this stopped being a "hobby." It stopped being something I "dabbled" in, and became deadly serious business. And I have to admit that to myself. Because let's face the facts:

- I've been getting up at 2:30 AM every morning for the past five years to find time to write despite a busy family life and work schedule

- whenever I have a free moment, I write. Before bed, during lunch breaks, at Madi's swim and soccer practices (not basketball, because I'm a freak about that too, and have to watch)

- whenever I'm not writing, I'm reading (which is an entirely different obsession)

- and I don't want to do anything else

So it's time to admit the truth: I don't see this as something I do JUST for the love, anymore (though obviously I DO love it, or else I wouldn't do it). I have goals, I want to succeed, and I'm driven to accomplish those goals. AND, like anything else...as my drive has increased in response to my accomplishments...that insecurity has increased, because I wonder...will there be a time for me to simply call "Uncle?"

Let's be painfully honest: in the next five or six years, if I'm not where I want to be...will it be time to reevaluate my goals? Maybe in the next five or six years as the kids get older and more self-sufficient, maybe I won't have to keep such extreme hours, maybe it'll get much easier to write every day. But maybe not. Six years from now, if I'm still a small-small press writer, will I still have the drive to get up every morning at 2:30 and write, at the age of 44, 45?

I work out a lot. I eat healthy, I don't smoke, I drink alcohol sparingly, and even when I sleep in, I still retire early in the evening. Hopefully, this sort of lifestyle - coupled with the fact that I just wake up well - will store up years of "early morning rising." But, maybe not. Maybe six years from now, with no light at the end of the tunnel, I'll be ready to reconsider all this.

Of course, that's when I think of this guy named Rio Youers. If you haven't read his novel Westlake Soul, you're missing out. And recently, it was optioned for film by the guy who wrote The Grudge and Texas Chainsaw 3D.  

So he's living "the life" right now.  He's in demand.

But his journey started in 1998, with a novel that didn't quite land with a major publisher.

That was fifteen years ago. 

Fifteen years. And Rio had been writing LONG before that.

Thought I've been writing all my life, this only REALLY started for me about six years ago, in 2007.

Fifteen years, stacked next to six.

Nothing like perspective, my friends, to kick ourselves back into gear...