In the time of chimpanzees I was a… okay, never mind. Although, 1993, the year Beck’s “Loser” came out, may as well feel like prehistory. That year, I was graduating from high school with a raft of scholarships, including a three-year Air Force ROTC ride. My future looked bright.
Needless to say, nothing turned out the way I thought it would. A year later, shinsplints would become periostitis (bone inflammation), and I would be honorably discharged, to be left rudderless for quite awhile after that: until 2001, when I began my freelance career.
The roller coaster hasn’t stopped. Since then, I’ve experienced some pretty transcendent highs followed by some rather miserable lows. But I’m in a place now where I can appreciate all of it — even the high/low between 2015 and 2016, when I got a great job only to be laid off a year later.
I’d never been laid off before, but the fact was, I hadn’t been especially happy at that job anyway. And so, amid the panic of finding new work and picking up some contract work along the way, I decided to commit once and for all to developing a fiction writing career.
I’d been published a little bit between 2006-2008, just short stories. During the preceding year I’d assuaged some of my job-related angst by writing, in fits and starts, the first draft of Possum Kingdom. Then, some short stories, including a children’s chapter book about a raccoon family.
As the summer dragged on, as I sent out resumes and applications, went to interviews, was turned down for a major opportunity, I found that the one thing I could rely on was my fiction. While trying to find a home for Possum Kingdom, I wrote a first draft of a novella which had, as a piece of crime fiction, never worked… but worked just fine as a dystopia with fantasy and crime fiction elements.
Perhaps more importantly, I’m establishing a network of great writers and other businesspeople to learn from and draw upon. More than making me a better writer, they’re making me a better businessperson, not just in the skills they teach, but also in the skill gaps they can fill in.
That’s not just important to me as a writer — it’s also important to using my voice to speak out on important issues and current events. 2016 was rough; 2017 may be rougher, for a lot of people. But I’m here for the long haul, and I hope you’ll join me!