8.27.2004

Disconnection Man
Chasing the writing dream, hanging out with the Pcp folks, it is easy to forget just how different our lives are from most folks. To compound the situation, we're fighting tooth and claw for a place in a genre that most folks consider to be hack work. You earn one brand of derision sitting in the coffee shop working on the great American novel; working on the great American Fantasy novel inspires another level of disgust.

To work as an undiscovered writer is to attempt to disconnect yourself from nearly every expectation placed on you by our culture. Chances are you're not going to make money, and even if you do sell a story it can be tough to explain to the inlaws just what that story is about.

But what are our options, really? Would I be a better person if I settled in to the rest of my life, kept the same job for the next thirty years, bought an RV and moved to Florida? Is this success?

It seems to me that some of us have been given an choice: to either succeed at living ordinary lives, or to fail at living extraordinary lives. Success --if it ever comes, and however we define it-- isn't something we can control. If we can accept that, and go on writing regardless, despite all the derision and rejection letters, then maybe, maybe, we'll be selling novels some day.

It would be a lie to say that selling stories doesn't make me the happiest man on the planet. But if I base my happiness and self-esteem on getting stories or novels accepted, then I'm setting up a long hard road. I don't know how you work it out, but for my own sanity, I've found a medium between the two extremes, and it has required ignoring nearly everything my culture would have me strive for.

Every time I put another SASE in the mail it is a blind shot at the moon, but the corollary of that is this: one day I might come home with the moon over my shoulder.

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