Thursday, 2 January 2014

2013: Or, Phase IV

I've been a little troubled at the prospect of putting together my end-of-the-year round up, truth be told.  I try to be positive here at Writing on the Moon, because I fervently believe that writing is a thing to be positive about, but the flip side of that is that I've always intended this blog to be an honest account of my career and there are some things that are just very difficult to put a positive spin on.  For me, for the most part, 2013 has been one of those things.

It certainly got off to a difficult start.  Of the three Damasco books, the writing of Prince Thief had been by far the hardest; I've no doubt it's possible to write a book in a year around a regular job without suffering any serious ill-effects, but when that day job involves things like twelve hour night shifts and inordinate amounts of travel it becomes, frankly, pretty tough.  And when you live like that for month after month, working up to seventy hours a week, doing little else and not sleeping anything like enough, after a while your health starts to suffer.  Hell, everything starts to suffer.

What made the experience just shy of impossible, though, was that I had a fair idea of what was in store for Prince ThiefGiant Thief had performed moderately well, but not well enough for Crown Thief to receive much publisher support or attention from bloggers and reviewers, because sequels don't attract anything like the sort of interest that debuts do.  By the time I started Prince Thief, I'd been reliably informed that I should expect proportionately less again.

Looking back, that's seems a lot more like common sense than it did at the time: you'll always be preaching to the converted with the third book in a trilogy.  But at the time, the cost seemed just too much; I knew I was making myself unwell and causing distress to the people close to me to write a book that couldn't hope to achieve the sort of things you hope a book will achieve, and it broke my heart a little.

All of that was more of less done with by the end of March, but it cast a long shadow.  Even with my writing efforts dialed down I was still doing at least one and a half jobs, the exhaustion never quite went away, and things continued to be a struggle.  In retrospect, I might have done better to slacken the pace a little more; as it was, I spent the next few months feeling like I was doing far less than I should have been.  I'd have liked to have worked much more to promote the launch of Endangered Weapon B;  I enjoyed coming up with my first novella, insane sci-fantasy oddity Patchwerk, but it cost more in time and effort than I'd been expecting.  It was really only when I put the day job once and for all behind me in October that things began to settle down, and only in the past month that I've felt like everything was more or less back under control.


For all that I've sure as hell done it in this post, I don't like moaning.  I still remember with perfect clarity what it's like to be an unpublished author, as I imagine some of the people who'll read this will be, and I know that I've been very, very fortunate to make it as far as I have, in the ways that I have.  I wanted more than anything to have a book published and now I have five out there, in various shapes and sizes and - regardless of how hard I worked for it, regardless of anything - that is a thing of utter awesomeness.  As is the fact that I've finally achieved my other lifetime goal this year, to make writing my day job.

So, for all of those reasons, and because sometimes it's nice to remind yourself of all the good stuff, here's a list of the things that happened in 2013 that were actually pretty amazing:
  • I sold a story to Clarkesworld and, with the year nearly out, to Interzone, two markets I've been chasing ever since I started writing seriously.  It was, in fact, a pretty great year for short fiction sales, all told.
  • In the end, I finished one novel, two graphic novels, one novella, a novelette and three short stories. Under the circumstances, that doesn't feel like a bad haul.
  • I completed my first trilogy.  The Tales of Easie Damasco are out there now, and I'm very proud of them.  They have stunning Angelo Rinaldi covers.  They're read wonderfully by James Langton in the superb Brilliance Audio audiobook adaptations.  They exist in the world, they're finding readers and listeners, and the more time goes by, the more I appreciate that fact.
  • Endangered Weapon B is out there too, after some five or so years of trying to make it a reality, and I love it to pieces.  Of the many things I have to be thankful for, high on the list is that I've been able to work with Bob Molesworth, a great artist who I have no doubt is going to become an extraordinary artist over the next few years.
  • I'm now writing full time. It's impossible to exaggerate just how much even typing those words feels like a gigantic weight coming off.  2014 is the year when I get to start writing the way I want, instead of the way I can somehow manage to fit around my day job.  2014 is the year when producing a book a year is suddenly the absolute least I can do, and when I get to put together some of the projects I've had to tread water on these last couple of years.  And, since this is the stage of my career that I've long been referring to as phase 4 in my Stalinesque ten year mental plan, 2014 is also, quite possibly, the year when ants take over the world.
         If that's not something to look forward to then I don't know what is.


  1. I'm sorry to hear that you had a rough year, and that you've struggled through most of it.. I'm glad to hear things have gotten better though, and that you're no longer under quite as much stress with the day job, and juggling everything else.

    I look forward to reading your future works, and whatever you write in the coming year. I'm sure 2014 will be a much more enjoyable year. :) I'll have to take a look at Endangered Weapon B.

    1. Thanks, Rebecca! I'm confident that 2014 is going to be a much better year. And I'd love to hear your thoughts on Endangered Weapon, so let me know if you'd like a review copy.

  2. I'm sorry the Easie Damasco books didn't take off like you'd hoped. I certainly thought they were one of the best things out there for the last few years. I listed it among the best I'd read in 2013 on my blog. And Endangered Weapon B is near the top of my TBR pile.

    Congratulations on the sales. And on going full time. I hope that works out better than you dream.

    1. Thank you Keith ... I was very glad to see Prince Thief make your list! While of course it would have been nice to see Damasco at the top of the New York Times best sellers and for the Tales to turn into a twenty book series, I'm more than happy that there are a few people out there that the books really connected with.