It’s been a long time, Dear Reader, and I see you shiver in antici…
…pation. So do I. Or maybe it’s trepidation. Or frustration. Some kind of -ation, certainly. Time always passes, the seasons running through their cycle, and the speed at which it marches by is staggering, the relentlessness of which I didn’t realize until I reformatted the Tribe Novels for my new branding. I haven’t added to that world since 2016. October of 2016, in fact, and saying that out loud (or typing it, whichever) sank in the pit of my stomach. I started to wonder if I could even call myself a writer anymore. An author, sure. I DID write two books. Pretty damned good ones, I think. But as William Faulkner famously said, “Don’t be a writer, be writing.” I am not writing. I don’t know why. It’s not writer’s block, because my inspiration and muses are legion. In fact, I had another PNR series idea pop up on me last night. What I am lacking is motivation. I WANT to write, but I don’t want to WRITE. I want the stories in my head to magically appear in manuscript form on my laptop. Of course, that’s not how this works.
I am still nearly two months away from my move to Charlotte and the library/office waiting for me there, with it’s promise of inspiration and productivity. I’m afraid that the longer I wait, the further away I’ll get from ever writing again. I can’t let that happen. Not to me. Not to you, my beloved readers, who still email me to find out when I’ll be going back into Wright’s Holler. But in a moment of self-recognition, I remembered that I am part of those hills, the fifth generation born of that rugged part of the Appalachians. If there’s anything us hill folk know, it’s our way back to those forest-covered valleys. If you hear and see less of me in the coming weeks and months, don’t worry. I’ve just found my way home.
I believe in signs and omens…in great messages from beyond that point you the way you were meant to go. Maybe it’s my superstitious roots. Maybe it’s my need to believe in destiny. Who knows? The point is, I believe.
I thought that attending Apollycon this past March would be the sign I needed to regain my desire to write. While it helped, it wasn’t the push I was hoping for. It was walking through the Library of Congress that gave me that awestruck inspiration that I needed, a spark to relight the fire, if you will. The library is a monument to the writen word, adorned in art and quotations that reminded me just how important books are. Even the poorly written ones are a bound recording of a single human being’s thoughts and that, dear reader, is a precious thing.
I was awestruck. I was dumbfounded. I was filled with a sense of pride that I could call myself an author. I could count myself in those numbers. I am an author and in not writing, I am doing a disservice to the legacy those walls protect. I found more than inspiration, though.
On the first floor, in a far corner, contained behind a pane of non-reflective glass is the reason that all the words we write have traveled.
A Gutenberg Bible.
I fangirled. I cried. I touched the glass and lets its importance wash through me. It’s not because it’s a Bible, thought the importance of that fact didn’t escape me. It’s what the book represents. For the first time in the young history of the written word, it was made available to the masses, or at least to more than the few handwritten copies could reach. Information and ideas could be printed, bound and shared, blanketing across a population that had been lost in the dark, with only their cleric to help them find their way. There was nothing outside the dim cage of their lives. Then Gutenberg built his printing press. He printed one Bible. And another and another, changing the world of literature as it was known. But it was more than that. It changed the nature of human consciousness. The population once contained in the smallness of their own existences now had access to the outside world, to thoughts and concepts beyond their own. Gutenberg’s press was a way to bring people out of the darkness into the brilliance of philosophical thought, histories, fictional worlds and beyond. They saw a beacon of intellect and reason in pages that they’d never before touched. They found illumination. It started with a Bible and now whole works are shared in bookstores, libraries and online, allowing access to anyone. So many are searching in the dark, reaching out for something more than what’s right in front of them and words are a way through. We are the authors, the creators, the makers of worlds. We are the light. Don’t let it go out.
It didn’t escape my attention that the month of March might
be hexed. Mercury went into retrograde on the day we set the clocks forward and
lost an hour of our lives to the void. And a mere week later, the Ides of March
are upon us.
Et tu, Harper?
Amazingly, it hasn’t been that bad so far. I’m not sleeping,
but I can’t blame that entirely on the time change. I mean.. chronic insomnia
is a thing. So are night terrors which have been ASTOUNDING for the last two
weeks. Still, I’m starting to feel hopeful that spring might actually come. It
has to. I’m a summer person. Give me sun. Surf. Sand. I’m ready.
Still, there are changes on the horizon, all good I hope and
I’m ready for a change from the endless stasis I’ve been caught in and I’m
working on getting right with myself and my skills to be able to push forward when
there are so many reasons to give up.
The Ides of March might have been the end for Caesar, but
here’s hoping it’s a new beginning for me.
As a writer, have you ever read something so amazingly well written that you question all your career choices?
A book or a series that’s so well crafted, so intricate… so entirely beyond that you look at your own work and try to reason why your own drivel would even warrant a place on the author’s refrigerator?
I just did
Two of them,
actually. One I’d read years ago, the other was new to me, but I inhaled both
like I’d just come off a fast and hit a buffet line. Two whole series that have
me taking a good hard look at my own work. After examining at everything in dismal
resolution, I determined that I am a hack at best and a wannabe at worst. I walked by my office, over and over again,
looking at my laptop in disdain. I glared at my planner full of plot bunnies. I
blatantly ignored the series I have left waiting for a new installment since
2016. The further I followed these literary wonders, the more my own books
looked like the badly written prose of someone who’d had no more exposure to
the written word that what’s found inside a fortune cookie.
I was at a
I still am.
And then I
read the series’ reviews. Not everyone loved them like I did. Not everyone was mesmerized
by the worlds these authors had created. Not everyone wanted to hold onto the
places and the characters and never let go.
Some people hated them, in fact.
That’s when it hit me, as I prepared to pull my books out of publication. I could either be bitter about their talent and success, or I could learn from them and get better. Their stories pushed comfort zones that so many readers are insisting on now, going outside the neat little box of all enclosed HEAs, a fated pair of lovers without a triangle…quick and easy to read, wrapped in a pretty little bow. These authors wrote their stories as they appeared in their minds, testing the gritty boundaries that kept me turning the pages without worrying about how the masses may or may not approve.
That’s what I need to do.
I need to pull out all the stops. I need to get gritty. I need to write situations that have my readers gritting their teeth in frustration, but insisting on reading to see where the jagged little rabbit hole goes. I’m going to write it all. All the ugly little hiccups that make it that much more important to get the couples together. If it takes one book or seven. I’m going to get better. It’s going to get ugly.
Dear Reader. This is going to be a bumpy ride, but I can’t wait to see where
this rabbit hole goes.
…without you, my friend. And I’m finally able to sit down and tell you all about it. I actually haven’t told you anything since August and actually, the final act of 2018 was such a whirlwind that I can’t even remember what happened to throw me so off the rails. Suffice to say Fall and Winter have tag teamed me into social media silence, but now that things are slightly calmer (barring anymore upheavals) I’m ready to take 2019 by the horns. Or the snout, as the Chinese zodiac would say.
The Chinese New Year is upon us, and 2019 is the Year of the Pig.
In Chinese mythology, the pig represents wealth, good fortune and prosperity. I believe in signs and omens, dear reader, and I choose to believe that this is the year that I will find my way, writing-wise. You see, I last published a full novel in the summer of 2016. That’s two and a half years that I have let my creative muses lie fallow and untended ground won’t yield. I’ve let too much distract and dissuade me, let too much negativity convince me that the merit I gained with The Spirit was a one off and I would never continue to write to that level. Worse, that I can’t write to the level of so many authors whose talent I admire and envy in equal measure.
However, one cannot improve one’s craft, if one abandons it.
I’m setting out in 2019 to prove to myself that I truly am an author. It’s not about sales rank or profit. For me it has always been about the story and that’s the fundamental purpose that I’m going back to. I refuse to let critics convince me that my work is sub-par, because I needed to be reminded that I don’t write for the critics. I write for me. I write for you and for anyone else who just wants to get lost in another world for a little while. I’m moving away from the marketing, algorithms and networking that seem to be vital in hitting those little orange flags. I’m moving away from the incessant cacophony of vitriol and condemnation that blasts from every social media site at every click, sucking me down into a whirlpool of “why even bother?”. I’m going to hone my craft in The Tribe world and in other genres. I’m going to quietly submit to the judgment of traditional publishing houses as I work to tell my stories the way I damned well want to tell them.
It’s the Year of the Pig and the wealth I seek is in knowledge, self-confidence and skill. The good fortune I seek is in time without distraction to create the stories that I know I’m capable of. The prosperity I seek is the peace of knowing that I put words to paper, preserving the worlds that came from my heart in some tangible way, that you, dear reader, might one day want to read them.
It’s the Year of the Pig, and I’m ready for all it has to offer. For all of us.