I found myself in San Francisco this weekend caught completely by surprise at having the best time of my life. It really snuck up on me. There I was, surrounded by beautiful women (Vicky), fellow writers who wanted to know what I thought, actors who admired my work, great food, funny conversation… It was simply amazing.
Then, I came home.
And I realize that real life never stops. I realize that this wonderful ride has to end at some point. I do.
In fact, let me drip a little more reality in before getting back to the wonderfulness so you know I’m not completely full of shit. I have only a few more unemployment checks remaining. In the past five months, I’ve applied for over 70 jobs – 70 that I’ve kept track of – with no response. Zero. Not a phone call. Nothing. For some reason I do not know, my career as a marketing professional appears to have come completely full stop. I will very soon have to take anything I can get: Costco, Target, whatever. I’ll have to do it or lose my home. I know that.
On top of that, my last book (Sleepwalker) received nothing but yawns and disgust from all the agencies and publishers I sent it to. Things are not looking great for me as a novelist.
So, why the hell am I so upbeat?
You know what they say: There’s no talking to an idiot.
No. Wait. That should be: Hope springs eternal.
I just finished my new mystery novel, Once Removed. Not only is it a lot of fun, it is a more sophisticated blend of romance and mystery and family drama. It takes my books to the next level. The next book I write will be another horror novel, my third. Hell, I never thought I’d write my first! The concept, which I won’t get into now, is far above a lot of stuff I see out there. It is really good – and I’m not really a fan of my own horror writing to begin with and I’m saying that. It will take me to that next level.
I’m getting better. I can feel it. Maybe it’s because I just spent a weekend in San Francisco with people who admire my work; I don’t know. It could also be the fact that I now spend an enormous amount of my time writing. You know, like a writer.
Check this out. I just finished the first draft of Once Removed in just over a month. Tomorrow, I’ll start working on my next play. Next week, when I finish the play, I’ll go back and work on rewriting and polishing Once Removed so it’s ready to submit to agencies and publishers. Then, I’ll do the same to the play. Then, I’ll start the next book. This will all happen before April!
That kind of schedule would have been unthinkable for me as recently as two years ago. I am now living and thinking – functioning – as a writer. And, yes, it will all be snatched out of my hands when my unemployment benefits run out in April.
That said, I want to get as much out of it as I can. Yes, this year, I want to write two more books. I also want to write a sequel to Wormfood Island when it comes out. I want Wormfood Island to sell well enough to justify a sequel. I have four more plays in my mind, ready to spring forth. I can do all this this year, easily, if I get the opportunity.
I am looking for that opportunity. I am looking for part-time writing jobs, temp writing jobs, contract writing jobs – hell, I’ll take all kinds of part-time jobs if they give me the opportunity to write.
I am ready to take that next step in my life.
Next month, I have a play being considered for full production in the 2012 season of an LA theater. In April, I have a short play being produced in Hollywood. This sounds like a dream and it kind of is. Sadly, it is not yet the kind of dream that makes money.
And it all comes down to money.
This weekend, when asked how I kept up this momentum of mine at the age of 45, I replied, “It doesn’t take any talent or skill. All it takes is blind stupidity. Think of any other job out there and imagine pursuing it for 25 years. Now, imagine someone saying that if you just got a little better they’d pay you. It wouldn’t happen. And yet, here I am.”
I got a bit of a laugh and, to some degree, I believe that.
But, you know, what I didn’t admit was the incredible love I have for what I do, the amazing thrill that comes when I finish a project, get an audience to laugh or to cry, create a book someone just can’t put down. It is an unbelievable experience and I feel fortunate to simply have made it this far.
Now, I want to go just a little farther.
(Yes, I know I'm posting this on both of my blogs but it's one of those things that really transcends both subject matters. This is my life and my love and my path - and it's Vicky's too. Vicky is an enormous part of it. Nothing makes me happer than seeing this through her eyes. I am very lucky.)