Rarely can anyone point to a turning point in their life, but here’s mine. Ten years ago today, April 1, 2013, I was laid off my job. I was devastated, but it doesn’t sting anymore because I can mark that moment as the beginning of becoming…
The next day, I took a stalled story and started rewriting it from scratch, in a new way, with a style and confidence that had eluded me for years. The story was Waters of Versailles, and it felt right. It felt like me. I’d found the thing I’d been long searching for in my writing, that I could bring to new stories, over and over again. We call it voice, and though it’s a bit of a cliché, it’s a good metaphor for finding your own unique way of expressing yourself on the page.
Gain though pain. Oh god, can we just not?
Though I’ve told this story about my artistic breakthrough many times, I kind of hate it. It shouldn’t take a massive, life-upheaving event to make an artistic breakthrough. Often it doesn’t. Lots of people find their voices through simple consistent hard work, punctuated by nothing particularly terrible or dramatic.
So why am I going on and on about this?
This past decade has been big, and I want to commemorate it here.
In the past ten years, I published two books (Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach and High Times in the Low Parliament), and a short fiction collection (Alias Space and Other Stories) in hardcover, no less.
I published 18 short stories, many of which were reprinted in Year’s Best anthologies, and translated internationally — including a gorgeous hardcover, illustrated version of Waters of Versailles in Spanish. I wrote several nonfiction pieces about writing and writers, mostly for Clarkesworld.
I consulted as a creative futurist for national and international organizations. Often, this took the form of listening to people’s ideas about the future and creating stories out of them, but I also made presentations about various technological advances and what they may mean for the future.
I attended conventions and literary events in Spain and China (twice!), and many conventions in Canada and the US. I was a been a guest of honor twice, at WindyCon and Canvention. I won a Nebula Award and three Aurora Awards, and have been a finalist for most of the major awards in our genres.
I won a Nebula Award?
Hard to believe, but here it is. It’s a beauty. As an SF fan since birth, this is lifelong dream come true.
What’s next, then?
High Times in the Low Parliament is the finalist for a Nebula, and I’m looking forward to going to the Nebula Conference this May — for the first time live and in-person since 2019.
I finished a High Times sequel called Down and Out at the Mighty Assembly, but not sure yet when or where it will appear. I’m working on a big sweeping Science Fiction novel, and am discovering, NOT to my surprise, that novels are difficult and all-consuming.
I want to write more stories — I have several in the works, and am looking forward to turning my attention to them, if I can only get the novel done and out of the way. It’d be great to have another year like 2015 and 2018, with four stories out in one year. That’s my idea of perfection.
Let’s see how it goes for the next decade, then?
Yes, in 2033, we’ll see how all of it has gone.