34 Years (and a bit) of Writing Fantasy
Today is my 49th birthday, and I can now look back on around 34 years of writing fiction.
Though I was writing well before then, I only have copies of things that I was working on when I was 15. I don’t tend to look back at them, but there are a few consistencies.
I have terrible grammar and punctuation, and I always wanted to write Fantasy.
And when, I say, I always wanted to write fantasy, I really mean, I always wrote Fantasy. It’s been the sense-making lens in my life for all those 34 (and longer) years. It’s been the sense-making lens since Mr Foley the school librarian at Gunnedah South put a copy of the Hobbit in my hands in Year Four.
I sold my first story 27 years ago. I sold my first novel 12 years ago, and I sold my first picture book three years ago.
It’s been ten books in total so far, with 4 books on their way – believe it or not. They’re all Fantasy with the odd sprinkle of Science Fiction, and I’ve even won the odd thing or two. So, I suppose I’ve done all right.
I’ve had one children’s novel pulled from publication months before release, plenty of things fail, and a lot of books fall flat on their face. But the writing keeps coming. I have a long novel in draft form (strong up front but with serious problems at the end, but the pegs are down*) and bits and pieces of around another seven novels, and they are all Fantasy or about the impulse to write Fantasy.
It’s a weird thing to do with your life. Sure, it may make sense if you are making a living from it, but it’s hard to explain if you’re not, except to other people who do it too, then no explaining is necessary. Fantasy writers (with a few exceptions) tend to disappear in this country we’re not quite literary enough, we’re not using the tropes in an acceptable way, we’re a little embarrassing. But I suppose that just isn’t an Australian thing, even Le Guinn felt that sometimes. Doesn’t really matter. We use the same tools, we just use them differently. And I’ve stuck around, quietly, for a while.
Looking back at those 34 (and longer) years I can see the sense in it, and the worth of it. Those words, that impulse to write them, spring from me, they give voice to something inside me that I struggle to give voice to in any other way. They’ve given me comfort and joy. And I’ve done all right.
There are things I would change in my life if I could, but this thing, this part of me I would not.
At 49, looking back, I am as happy about that as anything.
*It's been a crazy busy year, every time I think, well, you've been a bit slow, I have to remind myself we have TWO children now, and work hasn't exactly been quiet. And I still write every day (just, like now, when the kids are asleep).