Imagine that you’ve spent your entire life dreaming about a thing. This thing is an event with hard lines on either side of it. You are currently living your life pre this-event, and you have all these ideas of what your life will look like post this-event. As with all dreams, your post this-event life looks waaaay different (and waaaay better) than your current circumstances.
And then the event happens and you’re suddenly living post this-event.
And big surprise, post this-event and pre this-event look pretty much the same.
We are, of course, talking about my book launch.
I have spent the better part of my life *since childhood* dreaming of the day I would have a book in stores, be able to exit the normal rat-race/cublicle-bound life-course that educated, middle-class folk are supposed to adhere to and BE A WRITER (in the inarguably real and professional sense). I had all these ideas of where I would live, who my friends would be, how my day-to-day ins and outs would feel and smell and taste.
That dream is an inarguable reality. In fact, it’s gone much better than I expected. I certainly *wanted* to have a breakout debut a la Patrick Rothfuss’ THE NAME OF THE WIND or Peter V. Brett’s THE WARDED MAN, but I had no illusions that would actually happen. I say his without any false modesty: Those men are better writers than I am. Just because you make the starting lineup of the late 90’s Chicago Bulls doesn’t mean you’re Michael Jordan. Even after you make the very limited cut of pros in your field, you still contend against the standouts, who can be counted on one hand in most cases.
But regardless, CONTROL POINT has spent its first month kissing the top 10 on the Barnes & Noble mass-market fantasy bestseller list, and has broken the top 10 on the same list for Nielsen Bookscan. For a debut novel, that is outstanding. I may not be slated an immediate Brent Weeks or Brandon Sanderson level career, but I have a real shot, over time, of building to a full time living as a writer. What I’ve always wanted. Not being rich, but no longer having to live in a dangerous neighborhood and subsist on takeout Chinese food.
There’ve been many blog/magazine reviews of the book, and while some are mixed, none slam it. The overall reception on Goodreads and Amazon are trending towards the 4-5 star range (there are my 1 and 2 stars, but thankfully, they are in the slim minority). So, yeah, thrilled here.
So, that month of supercharged excitement comes and goes. I sign all the shelf-stock I can reach. I hit every con, do every interview and guest post possible. Congratulations flood in. People talk and talk and talk about me and my work.
And then, slowly, the tide goes back out. Your name and work flows back into the general buzz of conversation about the field. You have the same friends, eat the same food, live in the same place. You still have to pay bills, do taxes, go to the gym, stand guard duty. You have work to do on the next book, and promotion for this one, but your life’s rhythm doesn’t change all that much.
My life post publication looks a hell of a lot like it did before it.
And that’s when the realization sinks in: Your dream? It’s also your job. And that means waking up in the morning like everyone else and heading off to work like everyone else. All that cool sheen you thought would stick to you because you’re AN ARTIST? It’s road mud, same as everyone else has on their clothes. I do not have some new circle of hip artist friends. Movie-star-gorgeous women aren’t throwing themselves at me. I live in the same dump. I wear the same clothes. I go to the same parties.
The glow fades and is replaced by the enduring reality of life: Work. Hard. Every day.
It’s an adjustment, but for me, it’s a happy one. Because I’m back to routine, but it’s the routine I’ve always wanted. And yeah, work. Even a lot of it.
But anyone who knows me knows that work is what I do. I’ll take the reality over the dream any day.