Two of my minions had checkups today, and as I was chatting with the doctor amidst her typing in medical things, she asked what it is I do. I gave my usual answer of freelance graphic designer and author, as that’s become my knee-jerk reaction rather than stuttering, self-conscious response, at which point she asked me if I’d published anything.
This is what gave me pause, not because I was asking myself if I should give the “self-published disclaimer” (this is not a post about that because I am OVER that discussion), but I couldn’t remember what number to fill in for the “I’ve published ____ books” part.
I couldn’t actually remember because it’d been so long since I counted them.
And so, to sate my own curiosity, I decided to check. I thought it was maybe sixteen or seventeen books, but, as it turns out…
If you don’t feel like counting, allow me.
The Devil You Know will be my TWENTIETH published novel.
This is what going on ten years of work has amounted to. The above graphic is all of my novels in chronological order of release. A decade of my life in fiction.
I start counting those ten years in 2007, when I started my first novel, The Dreamer’s Thread. That first book took a very long time before it was released to the public in podcast form in the summer of 2009. It wasn’t easy to get that ball rolling, but once it started, that was it… which is the point here. That first book of mine was rocky and immature and clunky, yet I can only say that after it’s a decade in my rearview mirror (okay, I could’ve said that probably eight years ago, but you get the idea).
My eighth release, Master of Myth, was actually the second book I ever finished, and by hanging onto it that long, I think I fixed a few things with my style and mechanics. While I sat on that one, somewhere in those years, I kicked the writing into high gear, cranking out the first three volumes of the Endure series (yes, Nobilis, I’m aware there’s still no book 4, thanks), and completed my beloved superhero trilogy, the Evolution series.
The Evolution series was actually a major turning point for me, as it was the first long story arc I ever completed. It signaled not only a turning point in my writing, but effectively put me in a position to publish a new book every 2-3 months, which is a trend I’ve continued for 3 years. I didn’t start off aiming to publish more than one book a year, and yet, in 2015 I managed to put out six full novels.
Which, by the way, is way too many for me. I will not make that mistake again.
Some of these books did really well, others did poorly. Even so, looking at that graphic, I can’t help but measure my success in ways outside of sales numbers.
I can measure it in surprises. I can measure it in word counts. I can measure it in how BOTH of my daughters told their doctor today they wanted to be writers when they grew up. I can measure it in conversations with my husband where he tells me how amazing it is to see all of the hard work I do and how glad he is that he can help me with this dream. I can measure it in messages from readers who had to write me because they loved one of my stories so much. I can measure it in moments I’ve considered giving up, but haven’t.
And that’s sort of the important thing, isn’t it? I haven’t given up. Despite leaner months, despite the days and weeks I couldn’t stand to look at a blinking cursor, despite watching sales nosedive or reviews rip one of my books apart, I haven’t given up.
Ten years, and I’m still writing.
Twenty books, and I’m not done yet.
It’s a milestone, for sure, but it’s not the finish line. I don’t know that there is a finish line. I kind of hope there isn’t. It’s the kind of surprise I like: completely unpredictable, heartbreaking, and breathtaking. It’s optimism that sticks around even when the idea is laughable. It’s all the bad things and all the great things rolled into one big ball of something interesting, which is really what life amounts to.
It makes for a great story.
So here’s to ten years and twenty novels.
And hoping for ten and twenty more.