I already dropped some word about what I have on my plate in the coming twelvemonth; go check that out if you missed it. What I'm mulling now is the significance of the choices I've made.
Of all the things I've started doing as a form of self-expression since I was old enough to stand up and walk, writing fiction has outlasted all the rest. I try to make room for other things, like programming, or for other kinds of writing (hence Ganriki), but it's the storytelling I always circle back to and feel most nested-in and at-home with. I may do other kinds of writing to put bread 'n roses on the table, but I do fiction because I want to, and because it comes closest to realizing all the things I think most need to be realized.
At all times, the thing I try to keep most upfront in my mind is why I keep coming back to it. It's not a choice I made once and decided to uphold forever; it's a choice I keep making, reaffirming. I've looked at the other possibilities, and this is the one that always wins out time and again. Even if the total audience for what I'm putting out here numbers in the single digits (hello to my fans, all six of you), the doing of it is what matters most, and what continues to matter.
I keep toying with how I might try to find a broader audience, or at least a more visible marketing strategy, in the coming year. Most of those plans end up involving things that consume a lot of my time, energy, or money, and that's typically why I've shied away from them. It always seems like a lot of work for very little tangible payoff. Because the payoffs I most want to court don't have anything to do with sales figures or riches or even critical validation. If I really cared about being rich or famous or praised, I think I would have been any of those things a long time ago. But money beyond a certain point yields diminishing returns, critical success can be taken away from you as quickly as it can be bestowed, and I don't know anybody with more than a certain measure of fame who isn't in some way plagued by it. All I ever wanted to do was my thing, whatever that thing was, as best I could.
It's not that hard to get the attention of a lot of people. It's far harder to figure out how to do anything worthwhile with their attention once you have it, because most of the attention that people have to give up at that scale isn't very deep. I'd rather have a deeper connection, even if it's only with a smattering of folks, a brotherhood-of-the-here-and-there.
And I say this knowing full well my idea of a "deeper connection" is most likely someone else's idea of a joke. My work is hit-or-miss, and I'm resigned to the sense that I may well never be able to do anything more with it than court the fire and get a few sparks to fly from it. The language of the flame, as Keith Jarrett put it, remains out of reach. My great ideas often turn out to be dim at best and laughable at worst. (As proud as I can be of something like Vajra, I can't ignore how badly it's aged in only a few years' time.)
But maybe all that is for the best. If I ever feel like I have "arrived", I might well lose the only thing that keeps me going in the first place.
The project I'm boiling up right now is closer to the commercial end of the spectrum than I usually get. At the very least I hope it'll be fun — although you have to know my idea of "fun" isn't always anyone else's idea.
See you next year.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind