The Path Forward


I’ve often wondered what it would take to make the next step in my writing career. I think it’s a question many in my same position let roll around in their heads on nights when sleep is far from easy. What is it about the process that makes us so interested? I’ve self-published all five novels up to this point – isn’t that good enough? In some respects yes, I have the validation that a group of people (outside of my friends and family) who’ve said “I like this thing you did” – and yet that is not enough for me.

You see, writing above all else, is my passion. I yearn to create stories that grab people by the nose and scream – COME LOOK AT THIS THING – because I believe there are stories which aren’t being told in our age and should be. No one else can write these tales, because no one else is going to approach it from the same perspective. This is the same way for most other creative fields like music or painting. Artists have unique methods and unique powers.

Yesterday I shanghai’d my wife into traveling to the Elgin Literary Festival, where among other speakers, the bombastic Chuck Wendig was giving the keynote address. I’ve mentioned him before on the blog here, and after reading a few of his pieces, I knew I wanted to hear him talk about the craft. Chuck laid out some great motes of knowledge about how he got into the business and what steps he took after the regular day job wasn’t cutting it. I really enjoyed the part where he talked about no two paths being the same. Everyone’s journey from passion to profession is different. It cannot be mimicked, no matter how much you try. There are assuredly similarities with other professionals in the field, but as he said at the festival – “I’ve burned the path I took through the mountains, so you can’t follow me.”

And furthermore – why would you want to?

Even if the process was as simple as A+B=C, why in the name of Charles Dickens would you do it? Why would we want a world full of the same cookie cutter artists, who all do the same thing (except for some minor changes here and there) – I mean, shouldn’t originality and unique voices be our desired outcome? You’d think that, but I remember after 50 Shades came out and the MSWL filled up with requests for strange BDSM novels and the like. When a person finds success, there is a natural desire to follow that path because people believe it will give them the same success. I’m well aware that my path will be different – shit it has been up until this point – so instead of trying to be the next INSERT AMAZING AUTOR HERE, I’m just going to be me, because that’s what will land me a great agent and more importantly that’s who I know how to be.

Addendum: Lately I’ve been reading more and more about a place called Al-Andalus, a region in the south of France that was taken by medieval Muslims in the 700’s. It existed there until the late 1400s when it was eventually taken back by Spain’s Queen Isabella. In the years in between it became a cultural center for people of all faiths and outlooks. It was during this time they constructed Alhambra, one of the ancient world’s wonders. I was shocked to find out that in this place people were able to come together, learn and live, without degenerating into a state of war for hundreds of years. Sadly, many of the records of that time period, including texts from great philosophers were burned after the war.

We have much to learn from one another. More than we are willing to admit most days. Ignorance and single mindedness will not foster humanity’s growth, only its downfall.