Steady As She Goes

Today, while looking at the work of an enormously talented young artist who is doing a cover for me and later finding a diffident comment from her, I wanted to scream “you’ll be all right!”

Look, I lived through 13 years of darkness, when everything sent out came back twice as fast. And I didn’t know if I’d ever be published.

Looking back now, I want to reach through the years and smack my younger self across the snout. Because having seen enough people come up through the ranks of writers and artists, and publishers, I was always going to make it.

No, it wasn’t event talent. I still don’t know if I have any of that. And honestly, in the long run it seems …. superfluous. It’s a very good thing if you have it, but also likely to trip you up, by not making you work hard enough at the beginning.

Look, as I tell my kids, who also ignore me, in this world we each mostly get what we really, really want. And are willing to work for.

If you really want to do art/writing and you’re willing to work for it, you’ll get to where you’re a professional.

If you love your craft and are always studying ways to learn and improve? You’ll make a living from your craft for a time span of some years.

If you do both, there is a good chance you’ll be reasonably well known.

Look, there are no guarantees. Major bestsellerdom, or people buying your stuff for half a mil is as much luck as anything else. Everything aligns “just” right, and you’re there.

But “simply” breaking in and making a decent living?

That’s a matter of you pays down your dust, you collects your winnings.

Don’t make the mistake I did and spend years frustrated and terrified and sure you weren’t “worthy” of making it in.

Steady as she goes, kid. You’re gonna make it.

13 comments

  1. my years of darkness, stuff sent out never came back, or was even acknowledged… and so i stopped sending

  2. Talent is a nice starting point, but hard work and getting good critiques when they are appropriate will go a very, very long way; certainly farther than talent alone.

    I’ve never had a best-seller. Lightning struck once, when someone from a completely different fandom read something and went back to that group and said, “hey, this is a lot like the stuff we love. Give it a try!” Not again thus far, and that’s fine. Way back in 2011 or 2012, Kris Rusch said that if you want to go indie, plan for the long haul. I try to keep that in mind.

    However, I still love the cartoon of the two vultures. One is carrying an anvil, and saying, “Patience h-ll. I’m gonna kill something.”

    1. I recently went back and revisited Strangely Familiar. Your craftsmanship has progressed a lot since then.

      (I’m trying to be encouraging, and hope I’m succeeding.)

      1. You are. It’s like when I went back to revise my dissertation. “Ye gads, they passed THIS?!?” It was . . . rough. Excellent for a dissertation, but rough. Painfully rough. I’d written a second non-fiction book and at least a million words of fiction since then.

        1. THAT is why folks should not “update” old publications. You aren’t the same person you were when you wrote that, and it will show!

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