As far as publications go, this Spring is the biggest one yet: Last month, I published two story collections — The Dinosaur Diaries, as well as A Web of Black Widows — and here in a little over a week my first novel is coming out from Simon and Schuster. For the most part, The Last Great Getaway of the Water Balloon Boys, is garnering great reviews (Publisher’s Weekly called it a “touching and impressive debut novel”), so I’m hoping sales are good as well. Early next month, I’m having my official book launch event in my hometown. Lots happening. And if you plan to buy the book, please preorder and buy in the first few weeks. Those early sales numbers encourage bookstores to stock more copies, which helps an author’s career.
There’s some things percolating on the writing front, some things that could be potentially very good, but I can’t talk about them yet. Regardless, I have this sense that my writing career is shifting into its next phase. What that phase ultimately looks like remains to be seen, but the shift is happening, I think.
It’s also caused me to do a lot of thinking about exactly what my career goals are as a writer. Up until now, I’ve pretty much just gone by the seat of my pants, my philosophy that I would just keep trying different types of books to see what sticks. And because my writing is just like my reading — eclectic — this plays to my strengths. I just write what I want to write and let the chips fall where they may.
And while I may always be a little that way (it’s just who I am), I also want to give myself the best chance at reaching the widest audience possible. This might mean being a little more careful about what I write and why. It might mean thinking about the potential audience a little more, as well as how commercial and marketable a particular concept is. Up until this point, I’ve pretty much refrained from letting the marketing and business side into my creative space, but lately I’ve been challenging that assumption. And that’s okay. I think I’m finally at a point where I can do this in a way that augments my creativity rather than hinders it.
It’s a very subtle shift in the way I’m approaching the craft, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a significant one. I’m also more willing to allow people into the early stages of the creative process to help me gage these factors. This is the biggest gamble for me, but there’s some things that have happened lately — and we should see in the near future how these things pan out — that give me hope I’m finally at a point that I can do this without jeopardizing my confidence. I never would have attempted some of these things ten years ago, and I would seldom if ever recommend that beginning writers do anything but just write what they feel passionate about and finish it before showing it to anybody.
But becoming successful at anything involves some amount of risk, and it’s not just in the product. It can also involve your methods. I’m starting to take more risks with my methods right now. We’ll see how it pans out.