(This may well sound grumbly, but I swear things are going well for me overall.)
Probably the first rule of becoming a writer is Don’t Quit Your Day Job. If it’s not, it should be.
I have a day job. I’ve had the same day job for ten-ish years now. I won’t tell you what it is, but it’s one of those socially responsible jobs that our society desperately needs to function, and yet going into said job means you often won’t be treated well…by society. The job has plenty of drawbacks. You tell people this is your job and they make a face and say, “Wow, I couldn’t do that,” but they know it needs doing. It’s also the sort of job where you need a college degree, and then you need more college after that, but good luck paying it all off on the salary you’ll probably make.
For a long time, I liked the job, even though it could often be a drag. My actual time commitments were pretty malleable, though the low pay meant that I worked as often as I possibly could and still didn’t really get far ahead. I tried to get more entrenched in my job, in the hopes of both professional growth and improving my economic standing (again, low pay, no benefits at all…not a lot of security). I didn’t get very far. Part of that was the downturn in 2008; part of it was just the nature of my field; and, sure, sometimes I got beat out by better candidates. It happened.
I never lacked for dedication, or talent, or diligence. It just didn’t get me anywhere. It certainly didn’t help my wallet. The truth of the American Dream is that it still involves a lot of luck. I think my favorite quote in the last ten years is from George Monbiot: “If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.”
Writing wasn’t a thing I ever planned on doing for a living. It sounds like saying you’re gonna grow up to play in the NFL or be a rock star. It doesn’t seem practical. I wrote for fun, and things have sort of grown from there.
I still have my day job, but I don’t go in a whole lot anymore. That’s a wonderful thing, too, because as the years went on and the growth never really happened, the day job became more of a drag than a calling. Good Intentions helped a lot when I went through a brief and entirely predictable bit of seasonal unemployment. Poor Man’s Fight pretty much changed my life. Occasionally, a reader or a reviewer will say that Tanner is a bit too heroic, and I think, “Tanner bought me out of debt, paid for multiple book covers and my appendectomy and gave me the best summer vacation I’ve had in ten years. You’re damn right he’s a hero!”
The thing is, I’m not what you’d call rich. I’m just finally making what a college-educated guy who just hit 40 should maybe make, contrasted against a pretty modest lifestyle developed from years of not making all that much money.
Again, the rule is: Don’t Quit Your Day Job. And I’ve more or less followed that. I’ve taken a lot of time off the day job to write, because I love writing and because the writing is demonstrably more profitable. But I haven’t quit the day job…I just don’t go in a lot anymore.
I went in this week, partly by request. I drove to work today in the car that I bought this summer, the first new car I’ve ever owned, the car that I could only afford because so many people have been so good to me and my writing.
…aaaaand I got rear-ended about a block away from the office. Trunk and bumper are just smashed. I’m okay, the other guy’s okay. He got out of his van and passed along his insurance and he was cool, and given how common hit-and-runs seem to be in Seattle, I’ll take that as a blessing. But still: I went in to work like a real person, and naturally my car took the hit.
I think the universe is trying to tell me something.
Tanner: Well, That Escalated Quickly (Book Three) is currently at 33,000 words, and this week I managed to get over a particularly concerning plot point, so I feel like it’ll keep rolling along well. I have no projections as to when it’ll be done. I desperately WANT to be done by early summer. The last time I shot for that, however, it wound up being late August, which as it turns out isn’t the best time to release a book.
I’ve received confirmation that I’ll be an attending pro at Norwescon this year (April 2-5). As the website will tell you, it’s the Pacific Northwest’s Premiere Science Fiction and Fantasy convention. All these years of being a regular attendee, and now I’ll be a panelist!
I’m also working with a few different artists (mostly discovered at conventions or through DeviantArt) for some illustrations of Tanner, Casey & Co. that I’ll share once I have them. I’ve wanted to get some more such pieces done for a while now. It’s in the works. Hopefully we’ll all like what we see.
As it’s a common question, I’ll just state here again that yes, I will someday write another book in the Good Intentions series. Maybe after the current book is done, maybe not. I can’t say. I love those characters. I feel like there’s much more to do with them. But I’m sticking to one book at a time right now.
There’s other good news to relay, but I kinda need to keep it under my hat for a little longer just yet.
Couple last bits: I’ve finally taken to Twitter and Tumblr. Not all that much on either yet, but if you follow those outlets, I’m @ElliottKaybooks on Twitter and I’m elliottkay.tumblr.com on tumblr, obviously. Fair warning: I don’t do a whole lot of advertising there. Just a little more of my regular voice getting out into the world.
Take care, everyone!