It’s not often in our lives when we experience something truly impactful, something that picks us up, shakes off the dust, and allows the sharper lines of the framework underneath to come into view, but when we do have those experiences, we should appreciate them to their fullest extent. As you’ve probably guessed, I had a pretty significant experience recently, one that both inspired me and that helped reinforce the fact that this – writing – is something I was born to do.
This past weekend, I made the journey from Boston down to York, PA to attend a little something called Horrible Saturday at an amazing book store called The York Emporium. Now, as a lover of horror first, and a writer second, there are few things that can get my blood pumping like a good book store, especially a good used book store. Immediately upon entering, I was overcome. There were So. Many. Books. I could’ve spent days in that place, running my fingers over the spines of book after book after book, reading synopsis after synopsis, reveling in the smell of paper, ink and binding, the essence of the printed word itself. But that wasn’t what I was there for. I was there to meet some utterly awesome, fantastic authors, hopefully get them to sign some of their terrific work for me, and gain some insight via the scheduled panel/Q & A session.
Brian Keene and I show some love! Photo by Susan Scofield.
The Q&A session was all that I had hoped and more. Listening to the quotable quintet of Brian Keene, J.F. Gonzalez, Kelli Owen, Bob Ford and Mary SanGiovanni, all of whom I’ve read and loved, and J.F., whom I interviewed on this very blog, was an experience that was well worth the trip on it’s own. At one point, I of course posed a question to the panel. I asked them about memorable criticism they had received, in light of receiving some rather unpleasant feedback on my story The Lesser just prior and not really knowing how to deal with it. Mary SanGiovanni’s answer will always stick with me – she compared writing a story to building a pretty car (leave it to the lovely Mary to describe a car as “pretty”:)) and went on to say that criticism was like mechanics finding problems with the inner workings of the car, and that ignoring them wouldn’t help the car’s performance in the long run. I thought this was a very fitting analogy, and I’ve given it a good deal of thought over the past few days, on the drive home especially (and not just because I was *IN* a car). Changes are coming, my friends… And I am in search of some new mechanics.
One of the more impactful things that occurred over the weekend was a conversation with the incomparable Kelli Owen. If you aren’t familiar with her work, you’re missing out. Kelli is a fantastic writer with an amazing style that makes you wonder how it’s possible that with a talent like hers, she’s not more famous…yet. I’d offer to let you borrow my copy of her first novel, Six Days, but then you might damage or lose it and as it’s not easy to come by, I’d have to eviscerate you and strangle you to death with your own intestines… but I digress. Kelli is as amazing in person as she is on paper, if not moreso. She’s funny, engaging, amazingly insightful, and somehow manages to put everyone around her instantly at ease… but let’s get back to that insightful part, shall we? I mentioned to Kelli, rather offhandedly, that I had never really felt like I fit in anywhere. Without missing a beat, Kelli responds with “Yeah, you’re a writer.” I opened my mouth to respond, but then I stopped. Just like that, she had cut to the quick. It was the sort of no nonsense, how-did-I-never-think-of-that answer that made absolutely perfect, concrete sense in my mind at once. It was like something that had always been just slightly out of place was clicked into where it belonged. All the little pieces just sort of seemed to make sense. Also, I was feeling all glowy over the fact that Kelli Owen called me a writer!
Over the coming weeks, you’re going to notice some changes around here, if you’re keeping up with the blog, that is. The stories I have posted will remain up just as they are now, but I won’t be making any more of my work publicly available. This wasn’t a decision I came to easily, after all, I don’t write for the idea of earning money, I write for the joy of exorcising the demons in my head and pinning down a little piece of infinity that’s all my own, and the most motivating thing for me is, has always been, and always will be an admiring reader, but I don’t just want to wallow in unpublished obscurity my whole life, that’s not a writing career, and not what I’m after. I want to be published someday. I want to walk into a book store or a library somewhere, maybe both, and see my name on something on one of those hallowed shelves. I want to sit in a dusty little bookstore somewhere, or maybe a convention, a line of people in front of me gushing about my latest work and asking for more as they give me their names and ask me to sign the things I’ve written for them. This is my dream, and with luck, dedication, and maybe a pinch of destiny, it will become a reality. Wish me all of these, my friends, and please don’t stop reading.