Dear friends…I don’t really know how to start this, I don’t really know what to say. This past weekend, my mother passed from this life to the next.
I’ve been trying to figure out what to write…and for the first time in my life, I’m having trouble with it. I’ve been lucky in life to have two supportive and caring parents, and I’ll miss her terribly. I do miss her terribly…
Her name was perfectly chosen. She was an angel… What I wrote in the dedication of my first book holds true, she taught me to be strong, to never give up, no matter how hard life became.
I hope you’ll all understand, it may be another week or so before I return to regular blogging. Thank you for always being supportive, dear readers. I’ll be back, I promise.
7 hours from now (where I live,) 2017 will become a memory, and that memory is full of mixed feelings for me. Some of my greatest joys, some of my hardest sorrows. Today being the last day, I thought I would end things with my annual ‘glancing back, and looking forward’ blog :)
Writing Without Publishing
After two years in a row of publishing, 2017 was the first year where I didn’t publish a single new novel. And for much of the 2nd half of 2017, that meant depression for me…I already had a plan moving forward for my writing career, but I knew nothing would be ready for publication in ’17.
However, a recent article I’ve read by another author has reminded me that there’s something more important than pumping out novel after novel like a factory. Writing is an artisan career, and sustainable writing is more important than mass production. But I want to spend an entire blog writing more on that. For now, let me just pass on the word – you don’t have to write 20 novels a year to be a successful author. That leads to burn out. Just do the best you can, and don’t forget to live a little.
On the bright side, I have made considerable headway this year, especially in the 2nd half, towards the 2nd editions of the Sword of Dragons books 1 and 2, as well as finally getting the Orc War Campaigns anthology ready for print!
I’ve learned a lot about the market, far more than I ever anticipated, and I think I’m a little more prepared to move forward in my writing career in 2018.
One of the greatest highlights of ’17 was the day I proposed to my beautiful Starshine, Beck Stewart! Since that day, we have moved in together and begun living and planning our lives together. After more than a year together, and nearly a year engaged, I am happier than I ever thought possible with my relationship.
Fellow author, artist, geek, and weird like me ;) She has been my rock, my muse, my voice of reason. She’s helped me keep the demons back, helped my writing move forward, and encouraged me every single day. Thank you, Moon of my Life!
2018 – Three Books At Once?!
With everything I have learned about writing, marketing, and cover art, I came to a decision in the last couple months: when I release the 2nd editions of the Sword of Dragons books, I plan to release them together, along with the Orc War Campaigns anthology. That’s right, 3 books at one time!
As crazy as it sounds, it’s actually not a stretch, and in fact gives me the time I need to get everything prepared, and actually make the books look like they belong together, both with their covers and their interiors.
In fact, as of tomorrow, I’ll have finished editing Burning Skies! At least, until I read through the proof copy. I’m sure I’ll find more to fix with that.
But that’s my system – I have a proof of Rise of the Forgotten, and when I finish editing Burning Skies, I’ll order that proof while moving on to The Orc War Campaigns. Once I finish that and order its proof, I’ll go back and read through Rise of the Forgotten’s proof copy, and so on.
When will these three be released? I don’t know yet. But I’m working quickly.
The Year I Get Married!
The first half of 2018 is going to be busy for another reason – my marriage is coming up fast! And that means more and more of my time outside of work will need to be devoted to preparations. I’m hoping I get proof copies of all 3 books before then, but I’m not going to rush.
That’s a difficult lesson 2016 and 2017 have taught me – rushing stories out isn’t the best idea. Working under a deadline is one thing, but as I mentioned before, sustainable writing is more important. I don’t want to burn myself out.
I know this is a writing blog, but I hope you all will understand if I indulge now and again and post news regarding my upcoming wedding :)
Happy New Year!
Thank you to everyone who visited in 2017! Much to my surprise, my blog has received more new followers and views this year than in 2016, and I’m so glad you all have found your way here!
I apologize for the lack of a blog post this weekend. It…has been a difficult weekend. My family had to say goodbye to our elder puppy Kayla, and it has been an emotionally difficult weekend for me.
She’ll live in our hearts forever, and I’ll never forget the day I came home from work and my parents had picked her up from the pound (we love pound puppies.) That was about 14 years ago…
And there are more trying times ahead, so I apologize if posts don’t always come on time. I’ll certainly try. At the very least, I’ll post my usual end-of-year look-back and new year look-forward post.
I apologize for the lack of a post last weekend and this tiny little one this weekend. We’ve just finished moving into a new place, so we’ve been extremely busy! But I promise to have a new blog ready for you next week!
Moving is never fun, and a lot of little things kept going wrong all last week. But thanks to some amazing people, we got all of the big stuff moved into our new place yesterday, and cleaned up/closed out the old place today. There’s still a lot of unpacking to do, but we don’t have a deadline for that, so we can do so at our leisure :)
I know, a weird question to start with. But that’s what I define as my day-to-day job, my work in I.T. that pays the bills. My Day Job.
And I’m going to steal a quote from Peter Dinklage: “I hated that job, and I clung to that job.” Except I’m still clinging to it. And I don’t know how to let go of it. I don’t know how…
Peter Dinklage Commencement Address
A few weeks ago, my fiancee sent me this video, a part of a speech given by Peter Dinklage at a commencement speech at his former university. And it struck a chord in my soul.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. In my waking moments. In my dreams. It’s a voice in the back of my head saying “these are the words you’ve searched for, they give voice to what you’ve felt for so long.”
Would you believe that Peter Dinklage was once in I.T.? He was in data entry, and as he said in his speech, he hated that job, and he clung to it. Like me, he clung to the job that gave him the freedom (outside of work) to live for himself, to not have to depend on others. And yet, from the sounds of it, for him it barely even did that.
Until one day, when he was 29, he decided he needed to do something more with his life. So he took the first acting job he could get, quit his Data Entry job, and went hungry for a while…but kept going. One job led to another, to another, to another, until now, he’s one of the highest paid actors on television.
And in his speech, he pleaded with the college students not to wait until they were 29, like he did.
29. I’m 33. He did Data Entry for 6 years. Counting my work study time, I’ve been in I.T. for 14 years.
Like Dinklage, who put on puppet musicals as a child and acted in school plays at least since the 5th grade, I’ve been a writer all of my life. No, strike that: I’ve been a story teller all of my life. Because funny enough, it was in 5th grade that I actually wrote my first story, but before that, I would tell anyone who would listen stories.
Clinging to the Job
Ask any of my friends or family members, for the past year or so, my desire to leave I.T. and write full time has been stronger than ever. I feel like my day job has been sucking the life out of me, and it’s only gotten worse.
There are days where I even allow myself to feel a little hopeless in that regard. I feel like I’ll never be able to escape it. I’ll never be able to write full time. I’ll never be able to follow my passion, to do the thing that has given me meaning since I was a child!
How do I escape? Do I take the plunge like Dinklage did, quit my day job, and just write and publish and try to get an agent, and hope that I land on my feet? What he did took courage beyond all measure.
Yet to do something like that right now would go against everything I was raised to be. Not that Dinklage was wrong, in fact I admire him for what he did. But I’m in the rabbit hole too deep. I can’t just throw caution to the wind and then go “oops, it didn’t work out right away, now I’m living on the streets until I can find a way to land on my feet.”
Whether it was skill, luck, or some combination, Dinklage was able to get through the rough beginning, and came out on top. But let’s face it, that’s a rare occurrence in life.
…So yes, that means I’m afraid. Terrified. Of what? Failing?
Yes…but what does failing mean? Dinklage covered this in his speech, too. He hated his job, he clung to that job, maybe he was afraid of change…are you?
If I were to quit my job and write full time, the chances are extremely high my entire life style would have to change. Quality of life would definitely go down the tubes for a while, and who knows for how long.
It would feel like a step backwards. It would be like all of my hard work until now was for nothing…
Would it be worth it? That’s the maddening thing, I can’t begin to calculate it. Just as I’m sure Dinklage couldn’t calculate it. I doubt he had any idea he would one day end up being one of the highest paid TV actors. Maybe he dreamt of it…but when he took that acting job… It would be worth it if I knew I was going to come out on top and someday make just enough from writing to live off of, to pay the bills, to have a roof over my head.
Honestly, I’d love to sit down with him and talk, to ask him how he felt as he did it, what he thought, how long he pondered over it before he made his decision. What was it that prompted him to take such a daring and dangerous course of action? What got him through the hard times that followed, the doubts as he struggled to pay the bills as an actor?
Hmm…maybe that’s the question everyone should ask those who have ‘made it.’ Not “how did you succeed.” But rather, “where did you find the courage?”
How do you learn to believe in yourself like that? Because that’s also what holds me back…my self doubts. I’m waiting for validation. I’m waiting for my novels to be at least somewhat successful, as if to prove that I at least have a chance. Does that make me a coward or prudent?
Honestly I don’t know anymore. In the commencement speech, Dinklage says “The world might say you are not allowed to yet. Please, don’t even bother asking. Don’t bother telling the world you are ready. Show it. Do it.”
Thanks for reading,
PS: if you’d like to see the full speech, click here. It’s worth watching if you have the half hour to spare.
There’s just no way around this at this point, I’m afraid I have to announce that I’m going to take a short hiatus from blogging :( I’ve done so before (though never announced it ahead of time,) and I know that I lose a lot of readers every time I disappear from the blogging community.
But the fact is, I can’t focus on it, and I often don’t have time to think up new blogs, let alone write them. Between work, a cert I need to renew for work, and wedding planning, it’s time to temporarily take a break.
My plan is to return by the end of June this year, though I’ll be sure to let everyone know if that plan changes. I hope you all can understand and will come back when I return. Maybe I’ll even take this opportunity to revamp the look of A Writer At Heart or re-brand it like I was thinking :)
If none of you return to read in the future, I want to thank you all right now for keeping up with me as long as you have. You all rock! :D
I am so very happy to announce that on Thursday, January 26th, I proposed to my best friend, my writing partner, my dear and wonderful Starshine, and she said yes!! :D
It was a special day, celebrating 6 months together! I took the day off of work and we went to the Planetarium together to catch a show, and then explored the Science and Nature museum, checking out gems, mummies, and the wilds together. It was a perfect adventure for two geeks :D heheh.
Afterwards we splurged and had a wonderful dinner together, before going home, where I brought out a photo album I’d put together for our relationship. At the end of the photo album was a poem I wrote, before she turned the page to a picture of me kneeling with the ring presented.
The crazy thing is I wasn’t nervous at all…until she started looking through the album. Then all of a sudden my heart started pounding like crazy and my hands started shaking. A friend had let me borrow his GoPro to record the event, and in looking back at the video, I was so freaking nervous and fidgety!
And when her emotions swelled at seeing the picture, I almost couldn’t say the words because of how powerful the emotions were in me! And when I finally did and she said yes, it was like my heart exploded in such ecstatic happiness! :D
I am so amazed by the responses we received on Facebook, as soon as we posted pictures and the news, Facebook blew up with everyone reacting and posting congratulations and supportive comments! It is so wonderful to have the support of our friends and families :)
Even being a writer, I don’t think I could ever convey through text just how incredibly happy I am, and how lucky I am, to be with such a wonderful person! She really is my best friend, my soul mate, and to steal a quote, the Moon of my Life :) We’ve built up so many incredible memories together, been through both dark times and good times together, and I cannot imagine my life without her <3
And for those with a sharp eye, that is indeed a Doctor Who Tardis-inspired ring :D
Thanks for reading!
Trials and triumphs of writing, finding an agent, and publication.