I am a writer. By day, I work as a software engineer to pay the bills. I am also a single parent. There is no other means of supporting myself. As I am not published yet (and I am getting closer), when I tell someone that I am a writer, they give me this dismissive look. I will explain I am looking for an agent. This has been going on for a while now, but for years it was, I am still trying to finish the book.
Inevitably, the non-writer will then suggest I self-publish or insist I go around the agents and go to some small publisher. And there are plenty of writers who do this. Not my path. I want to go through the gatekeepers and get published with someone who will put me on the bookshelves in both small and giant bookstores. Then they look at me like I ought to settle for whatever I can get. I’m stubborn so that’s not happening.
I also write epic fantasy. It’s not something you chug out in a year. Some of the early drafts of many chapters in Shadowed Castles were written when I was a wee kid. I have over 100,000 pages of notebooks, early drafts, scribbled maps, index cards with characters, creatures, and world history that I have been collecting since 1981. These records take up most of my attic. This is not some tea cozy mystery (which I happen to love). This is my life’s work. Now granted, I have about twenty books worth of great stories of research and ideas.
Shadowed Castles took me years to put it in a publishable state. I put it through a workshop back in the late nineties. Then I abandoned it for a good while. I simply was not ready to write that story. I wrote screen plays, short stories, and even tried a couple of literary pieces before coming back to what I truly wanted to write. Once more I went to the workshops. Those early drafts were seven years ago. Now, I have something that I feel really good about, but it took so much time to get there.
So I am a writer living in a world of instant gratification. This is particularly difficult when I turn down invitations because I am busy writing or when I take a day off (I do this a lot) to polish my manuscript or to respond to a request for more pages or a full. I do not do vacation. I write. Non-writers do not seem to realize the hours of work it takes to finish a book, to revise that book as you attend conferences, interact with agents and editors and other writers, meticulously pour over each detail.
The non-writer lives in the world where if you want something, there is a great shortcut to get there. Yes, this even exists for writers (self-publishing). It’s not for me. I know there are success stories in self-publishing, but for me, it’s more than being in print. I want to squeeze my book into the company of David Eddings, Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan (may he rest in peace), Mercedes Lackey, Patrick Rothfuss, and the like. I hope to tell stories that do for my readers what those writers have done for me. So I will remain a writer looking for a home in a world with little patience for me.