I’m not going to do a con report for Miscon. Miscon was easily the greatest con experience Esther and I have had yet.
This wasn’t because of the con staff (who were still great), or the hotel staff (who weren’t). Miscon is the con where, for lack of a better term, the fact of our writing as a career really seemed possible.
That’s painful knowledge to have.
I have a good 9-to-5 day job that I don’t plan on quitting anytime soon. I need the income on that to pay the mortgage and eat, both things I enjoy doing. Esther is the same way. And the proceeds we received from Miscon were not so extravagant as to replace those funds. We didn’t sell enough to actually jump off a cliff and start our writing career.
We sold enough to make it seem possible.
Maybe it was headily spending so much time with A-listers like Kevin J. Anderson, Chris Paolini, or Jim Butcher (the last of which is basically responsible for us thinking we could become writers at all). Maybe it was the fact that people were actively searching the con for our book, and pestering table dealers to find it. Maybe it was the crowd of people who slowly filtered under the tent as I did my reading. More likely, it was the combination of those things, but it made me really look at myself and say “Holy crap. This, too, could be yours.”
Miscon was work. And Westercon is going to be even more work. But we walked out of Miscon having, for a short window of time, played with the big boys.
And now I’m not.
Now I’m back at my desk. I just had the asshole du jour who’s crashing off heroin tell me I’m an idiot because I can’t immediately get him out of jail. And I keep thinking back to those three perfect days where I wasn’t Peter Jones, Public Defender. I was Frog Jones, fantasy author.
There is nothing like hope to make a situation that much more painful.
So, here’s the thing. Before Miscon, a career as an author seemed like a dream. One of those things you talk about like you talk about winning the lottery. Fun to fantasize about, fun to think about, not a thing that could actually happen to us. Oh, we’ve got books out. They’re even really good books. But the idea of that being your life? Of someone on the street asking me what I do and my knee-jerk response being “I’m an author” instead of “I’m a public defender?” We did not, realistically, believe that day could exist at some point.
Now we do. It has been demonstrated to us in the numbers of our sales, in the response of the audience. It has been demonstrated to us in the respect of authors who write alongside us, and in the faces of fans who get excited when we sign a book. Miscon is not the con that broke us loose financially. It is the moment we broke loose emotionally.
Guess what? We want it, now. We want it. And the fact that we now know it is possible means we want it that much now.
We will have the draft of Black Powder Goddess, our new book in an entirely new world, into the revision stage by the end of June. Graceless, the fourth book in the Gift of Grace series, is next. Esther and I are making a solemn, public pledge. We will be writing a thousand words a day. Come hell or high water, we will produce a thousand words a day, each. And we will spend weekend time editing one project while drafting another.
Because you, the fans, have asked for it. Have chased us for it. Have pestered Kevin Anderson to tell us where our books are. And that tells us that you, our fan base, want this for us as much as we want it for ourselves.
No, I’m not quitting my job. Nor is Esther. Our jobs are what make our lives possible. But we aren’t going to be “too tired” to get our writing done. We aren’t going to need to do something else first. We have gotten a taste of what could be, if we work for it. And coming back to our normal lives has only emphasized how much we want it to be.
So, thank you. Thank you, fans, for showing us what we could have. Thank you, authors who have been here before us, for accepting that we have the potential to walk among you. For the first time it feels like we actually do.
And in that one chance, that one possibility, there is more exquisite joy and excruciating pain than we have had at any point in time. But there is also this: if we can, we will. If that chance is there, we will seize it. We’ve had a taste.
And we want more.
As a result, brace yourselves. Black Powder Goddess is easily the best thing we’ve written yet, and it’s not edited. Graceless is plotted, and the twists we have for Robert and Andrea should leave you breathless. And we’re not stopping until enough people join your ranks to make sure that our time as authors is no longer temporary.