First off, sorry for the delay in getting this posted. I was at Marcon this weekend, with Faith and Lucienne, and had a wonderful time. We got to see Daniel and Donald, and we met a few new people as well. Fun time. As soon as I got home, I was off to a Passover Seder at the home of a friend, so I didn’t get the chance to write this post ahead of time, as I usually do.
Second, check out the IGMS advertisement just to the right of this post. That is the artwork for “A Memory of Freedom,” by D.B. Jackson. It is the feature story for this month’s issue of Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. This is a Thieftaker story, and that figure in the ad is one artist’s rendering of Ethan Kaille, the lead character of the Thieftaker books. I hope you’ll visit the IGMS site and enjoy the story.
Conventions are, for me at least, occasions for self-reflection. I often come away from a con energized, but also deeply conscious of where I am in my career and in my work on a particular project, and where I want to be with respect to both. Marcon was no exception. Thieftaker will be released in less than three months. “A Memory of Freedom” is out as of last week. Another Thieftaker story, “A Spell of Vengeance,” will be appearing on TOR.COM in June. I’m planning a blog tour for the weeks leading up to the book’s release, as well as a possible signing tour for the weeks immediately following the July 3 publication date. The lion’s share of my professional energy right now is focused on making Thieftaker and its sequels (be there one or three or seven or ten) as successful as possible.
This probably sounds self-evident; I suppose it is. But I have been throwing around words like “ambition” and “tenacity” in recent posts, and I guess I’m realizing that there are other words I need to own up to as well: fear, want, dissatisfaction, defiance. Because they are as much a part of what I am feeling these days as “ambition” and “tenacity.”
Fear? Yes. I am afraid. I’m excited about the release of this new book, the true launching of the D.B. Jackson pseudonym. I sense great potential in the new path my career is taking. But I would be lying to you if I didn’t admit as well to being apprehensive. There are no guarantees in this business. None. Tor is doing great things for this book in terms of production values and publicity steps. I am committed to working my butt off to see that it succeeds. And still, the book could tank. I have no crystal ball; I don’t know what’s going to happen to help or hinder the book’s success. I have to wait and see. This might well be the most important release of my professional life; the upside potential is pretty high. But doubts lurk at my shoulder; Fear settles in my gut every time I look at a calendar and mark the approach of July.
Because I Want. I want more from my career than I have gotten thus far. I want to be a bestseller. I want to have my books recognized not only as critical successes, but as commercial successes as well. Once upon a time I wanted merely to be published. Then I wanted to be able to write more books; the money was secondary. I wanted to be lauded critically. I wanted respect. And I still want all those things. But I want more, too. Is it sad that “success” is measured in terms of sales? Yeah, maybe. I’ll deal with the sadness: I want glittering sales numbers. I want to be on Lists. I want to have “bestseller” printed on the cover of my novels — embossed, if possible. I suppose this is the dark side of ambition. Or maybe it’s just the human side. Whatever. I think there is value to Want.
Because of Want, I am Dissatisfied. I will admit to feeling somewhat guilty for what I have just written. I know there are people reading this who are thinking to themselves, “That spoiled bastard! Doesn’t he know how lucky he is? I would be happy simply to sell this book I’m shopping around right now. Give me an agent, let her find a home for my beloved manuscript, and I will be satisfied.” To which I say, “No, you won’t. Not for long at least. Certainly not forever. As I say, I was there. I thought that a publishing credit would be enough, that publishing midlist books would be enough, that good reviews would be enough. But Dissatisfaction propels me forward; and it might well do the same for you. A writer toils with his book and envies his friend who just sold her first short story. The writer of the short story is happy for but also jealous of her friend who just sold his first novel. The novelist longs for the day when he can be like his friend who recently won an award for her third book. The award winner wishes she could enjoy the success of her friend whose seventh book just made the New York Times Bestseller list. The bestseller is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his friend whose book was just made into a hit movie. And so it goes. I am Dissatisfied, and while that dissatisfaction chafes, it also inspires. It keeps me hungry, and hunger is a great motivator.
Because in the end, I refuse to give in. I refuse to be ruled by fear. I refuse to heed the voice in my head that says “Be satisfied with what you have.” I refuse to stop wanting more. I stand here today in Defiance of propriety, of humility, of the comfortable shackles of acceptance. I will keep pushing and fighting. I believe that my work is worthy of more, and I will shout it from the rooftops if I have to. I am a writer; I have something to say, and you should want to read my story. It’s a good one. I Defy anyone to say otherwise.
So what are your words today? How would you describe where you are and how you intend to get to where you want to be?David B. Coe http://davidbcoe.livejournal.com http://www.DavidBCoe.com http://www.dbjackson-author.com http://magicalwords.net