I do find it funny that as I rapidly approach 40 I find myself not only still getting joy out of writing and drawing, but as destiny has foretold, I have also turned it into something resembling the formative embryo of a career. Yes, that’s right I am not a full-time author. I know loads and loads of authors (mostly thanks to twitter!) and I don’t think I know a single one of them who writes full-time. As has been drummed into me many times, very few authors succeed enough to be able to support themselves by their writing. We can’t all be Rowlings or Meyers. I can’t speak for Ms Meyer, but I do know enough about JKR to know that Harry Potter was a labour of love and something that she actively championed with every fibre of her being. You can say what you like about her success (and a lot of people do – jealously, I might add) but you cannot deny that she’s earned it. She faced rejection many times, uncertainty a lot, cried and bled for her art and success came as a by-product of that hard work. Things probably changed for JKR a bit over the past 10 years, but she is still fiercely protective of her legacy and her creations, and that amount of love can only come from someone who achieved and then eclipsed her life’s dreams.
So it is with somewhat of a sheltered existence that I do what I do. In some ways, nothing has changed since I was 8 years-old. Writing and drawing is still a hobby of mine, a career not yet given the official stamp of approval, yet one that earns enough to pay for a lovely holiday with the brood every once in a while. So essentially, I am still me. Nothing even remotely resembling fame has gone to my head. I think there is a vast difference between fame and recognition. Artists (of ALL kinds) are often typified by the love of their craft, tortured souls sometimes, yet ones beholden to a higher purpose in life and the ‘real’ ones amongst them do this because they want their work to be heard, be it a three-chord strum, a heart-melting lyric, an awe-inspiring piece of art, or whatever. They don’t do it for the cash. Don’t get me wrong: I would love to be able to earn enough money to focus on my craft full-time and who knows, it might happen in time…but I am very thankful for what I’ve got. Positive recognition is far more important to me. To have people (of any age) reading your book and taking the time to let you know that they loved it is all I wanted to achieve.
But I have ALREADY achieved something, you might say. Getting published is a cause for celebration, and was something that I worked hard to achieve for many years and suffered many a rejection or two myself, to be sure. I did end up with what I wanted (didnt I?) but just like on a game show where the questions get harder the more money you win, I knew I had more in me. You can’t really complain when your life is full of so many achievements – even if there is a brand new one waiting in the wings – but being an isolated writer, sometimes with a lot of time on your hands – you can’t help but think about what you do and come out of it lacking something, that missing one per cent. Coming from a comic book background, I am used to focusing on ‘the next issue’…and that is still with me. When my 1st book (The Equivoque Principle) was released I was high on the emotion of the culmination of a dream that I had held tentatively for so long. But….what do you do once you have achieved your dream? Where do you go? In my case…I looked for another one.
‘The Equivoque Principle‘ was first released in limited edition hardback in 2008. Only 1000 copies were ever made and plenty sold, and this was a strong act of faith on the part of my publishers as the book wasn’t promoted anywhere and only (Ha! He says ‘only’!) reviewed in The Times. It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that not all of them sold, but so what? I had made it. I had achieved a (not THE) dream and accomplished a feat that millions of people strive for all over the world. As I’ve always wanted to use the word ‘churlish’ in a sentence but have never really had the opportunity, let me just say that I think it would be churlish of me to have achieved such a splendid feat and not consider it a triumph. Just take some time to stand back and be proud of something.
In the interim between the hardback and the paperback release of Equivoque I had written not one but two more sequels (and as you read this, the fourth as been gathering virtual dust on my hard drive for a year or more). I had the pleasure of seeing Equivoque do well in paperback, promoted in Waterstones’ 3 for 2 – which for a writer is the equivalent of being a popstar and getting Radio 1 airplay. And then in March of this year, along came The Eleventh Plague, the direct sequel to Equivoque (as those of you who have read it will know) picks up not long after the last word on the last page of The Equivoque Principle just before the full-stop.
So, because I rarely do this on this blog I thought what the hell, today is about ME. I will openly and unashamedly talk about myself and see how it feels. A bit liberating, a bit egotistical ifs the answer if I am honest. I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, I don’t even know how to purse my lips properly to make the sound. I’m not used to it. I’m still that 8 year-old boy being told that Art is for kids who are no good at football at heart. But I need to grab myself firmly by the shoulders and give myself a damn good shake. Especially in this facebook-blog-twitter-verse that we live in nowadays, being social is how you do things. It’s all about the networking. In this age it isn’t enough to just do what you do – you need to tell people that you are doing it too.
That’s the point of this blog today. To look back and be proud of what I have achieved and then use it as a platform to look forward to what other dreams I can achieve – and there are so many more. Good stuff, very good, is on the horizon, but I can’t disclose it just yet – top secret and all that – but when I can talk about it, you’ll be the first to know – assuming that anyone apart from me and my friends actually READS this blog?
Do you really?
I don’t know, I’m trying to sound confident but I think I might just be coming off as a bit needy…