Years ago, I wanted to be a professional writer, and by that I mean someone whose main source of income was writing. But then my world changed in dramatic ways. I changed. And my view on writing certainly changed…
Wifey and I moved to Perth in January 2015, and that was the day our lives changed big time. I went from a contractor spending month on, month off in Papua New Guinea, way up in the mountainous jungles, to co-owner of one of the biggest geological consultancy companies of its kind in the southern hemisphere – and all that on my very first day in the Perth office!
Writing went out the window as all my time and energy went into this company I’d somehow inherited. There was nothing left inside of me for creative writing. It also didn’t help that it was around this time that the oil price crashed, marking the beginning of one of the biggest downturns in decades. Running a Perth-based geological business during this downturn was a hard slog. There was a lot of stress, a hell of a lot of stress, and long, long hours in the office.
But something I learned in the intervening years is that writing, for me, serves two purposes: firstly, I love creating worlds and stories and I’m miserable when I’m not; and secondly, it’s my psychiatrist. I need to write to keep myself balanced. It helps me cope with this world and stops me from going insane.
Writing is an escape; I think it always was and it was only recently I fully realized (remembered?) this. It’s something I will always do but not for the need to become rich and famous – it’s certainly the wrong job for that, and in all honesty, it’s extremely unlikely to ever make me more than my day job.
But you know what? I’ve long since made peace with that. I write because I enjoy it, because I want to. There’s no pressure on me and that freedom is somewhat liberating. Would I like to be more productive? Hell yes, but only to keep up with the stories building up in my head. And I can make that happen now I’m finding the right work-life balance again.
My long lost shifty sideshow of a muse has finally returned from his trip to that alien world I spoke about way back in 2014, and he’s brought with him tales of horror and wonder. I’ll be writing those stories under his guidance, but he’s changed, too. Mellowed somewhat. Nowhere near as demanding. But we still do have many stories to tell, and those stories haven’t mellowed in the slightest.
This coming year will see the release of my novel Gutterbreed, plus the publication of at least 2 short stories. Beyond that, who knows – but I have plans. Plans to get my writing self organized. Plans that involve finally getting The Midnight Tree saga done and published (is it 3 books or is it 1 book at 170,000 words?). I’ve discovered that I love writing novellas more than short stories so that’s where my focus will be from now on, too. The Witch Nodes, the novella I wrote during November, needs sorting out, so that’s also on the list.
I also love being involved in the writing industry, so 2020 will see me far more active – although 2019 was a good start; in mid-2019 I picked up a gig with CoNZealand, helping promote the world science fiction convention taking place in Wellington next July-August. My swanky role is International Outreach Administrator! As part of that, I’ve been chatting to all manner of people across the world. It’s been fun.
I started writing a column for the HWA’s members’ only newsletter this past year, too; Drop Bears and Taniwha, providing monthly updates on all things Oz-New Zealand. Hopefully I can continue to build that going forward.
And hells bells, I am going to cons next year! God damn I miss those. I haven’t been to a proper con since the last world con in Australia, back in 2010! A fucking decade!! That’s not happening again.
Oh, and I am planning on setting up a small press…. Crazy and bonkers (and don’t tell wifey!) but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and I know by now that such ideas won’t ever leave me alone until I’ve acted upon them…
So bring on 2020, I say! (And I promise to keep this irregular blog updated far more regularly! Yes, I know I’ve said that before; I know my last few posts have all been about me resurrecting my writing life, but this time it’s happening because this time I’m different. Hell, I might even start up a newsletter!)