This is the sixtieth post I’ve made to this blog since I started it back in November of 2011, just after We Shadows Have Offended was first published. Since then, I’ve done series on National Novel Writing Month, writing and yoga, steampunk, and general writing advice. I’ve had six new short stories published (with another in press), I released three chapbook collections of short stories (some new, some old), and I secured a publisher for my first full-length novel, The Red Eye. I also began pursuing my MFA at Seton Hill University, through which I’ve met some amazing writers among both the students and faculty.
But 2011 isn’t when I became a writer, of course. At the signing/reading events for SIDEKICKS!, that was a common question: When do you begin writing? I struggled with my response. I began writing with the goal of pursuing publication as long ago as 1998 or so, and I started getting far more serious about that in 2002, the first time I did NaNoWriMo. But I’ve always written stories, going back to elementary school when I wasted stacks of paper printing out lavish epics which I would occasionally also illustrate. (I sincerely hope these never leave the confines of my parents’ garage.) I’ve also always been a reader, curled up on my butterfly-festooned bedspread devouring things ordered from the newsprint sheets of Scholastic Books. In high school, my stack of schoolbooks always had a novel teetering on top, and I’d sneak chapters of The Stand in between Crime and Punishment and Great Expectations during study hall.
To my students, I’m Methuselah, but for an author I’m still young. The career of a writer can be blessedly long and often blossoms—if it is to blossom at all—in one’s thirties. You’re no longer so young as to have nothing to say, but you still have enough optimism that you’re willing to try something so ridiculous and financially unrewarding.
Perhaps this is also why the protagonist of The Red Eye is in his mid-thirties. At the time I started that book, I was weary of YA coming-of-age stories and wanted to see what would happen when someone discovers his “chosen one” status during that oh-so-fun decade when you’re just as likely to have pimples as wrinkles. I made my protagonist a dreaded “man-child,” irresponsible and hard-drinking, but I also gave him a failed marriage, a professional full-time job, and a grown-up love story, because that’s the kind of POV I wanted to see and could relate to. I can certainly understand and appreciate the struggles of twentysomethings from observing them at work, but I’m delighted to be done with high school and wasn’t interested in revisiting it in my fiction.
Then again, maybe I’m particularly well-suited to consider writing “new adult,” that liminal stage of moving from one’s early- to mid-twenties, when you are indeed on the precipice of change but you may have already gotten a mortgage, as I see these folks every day, trying to balance school and work and sometimes even families. I’m excited to see where that genre goes in the next few years, just as I’m excited to embark on this next phase of my writing career.
Here’s to sixty more blog posts and a whole lot more fun stuff to write about.