Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Two-Cent Tuesday: Pure Magic

After years of selling books online, there has been kind of an odd trend.  The books I've sold the most copies of are at two different ends of the spectrum.  One book was written at the height of my literary powers and the other is a series written when I was just starting out and had no idea what the hell I was doing.  Life is weird like that.

Of course the book I've sold the most copies of is Where You Belong.  In large part because it had a 3 year headstart or so on most everything else.  And also I pushed the hell out of it with a blog tour and website and everything.  Why shouldn't I?  It was the best damned book I ever wrote and will ever write.  As I said it was written at the height of my literary powers (such as they were); I was really locked in or in the zone when I wrote that.  I had a determination and purpose that I don't think I've ever matched, not even in the books that followed it.  I mean, I enjoyed the Scarlet Knight and Chances Are books, but they weren't so literary in their ambitions.

As I said at the beginning, on the flip side the other series of books that have sold the most copies are First Contact/The Savior/The Final Battle published under one of my pseudonyms.  (I'm not counting books given away for free.)  I find it amusing that those have sold so well because I wrote those my senior year in high school.  I did it pretty much on a lark too.  Well part of it was my brother had moved out and so I had a room to myself for the first time and a newfangled word processor (a technological marvel for 1995--not really) so I finally had time and space to get down and do some real writing.  Except of course I had no idea what the hell I was doing.  Most of the story was cribbed from Robotech, Transformers, and Timothy Zahn novels.  And I'm sure the grammar wasn't great from a grammar snob standpoint.

Anyway, I think the best thing about those books was because I was young and ignorant.  I wasn't really worried about commas or -ing verbs or cliches or any of that bullshit.  I just had FUN.  It was purely for the love of the game, not about getting published or making money or anything like that.  I don't think I've really been able to replicate that feeling again because you can't unlearn what you've learned; you can't really go back in time, which is the point Thomas Wolfe was trying to say.

On the other hand, Where You Belong was not really FUN to write.  It was a lot of WORK.  Months of late nights at the library and weekends at coffee places and Panera Breads.  And that was just the first draft!  Then there were more months to rewrite the entire thing in first-person!  But then there was the moment where I could step back and finally say, "I did it!"  And it was good.  I haven't really been able to replicate that feeling either because I'm lazy and I just haven't felt the need since to put that much raw effort into anything.  Not that the Scarlet Knight books or Chances Are books didn't involve any work--just not as much.

I guess if you want to get all sappy about it--which I will since it's the last Two-Cent Tuesday--there are those magical moments in a writing career.  Maybe it's when you're just starting out and don't know any better or maybe it's when you're a grizzled veteran and finally find that one story that really gets you going, but those are the magical times that should be treasured.


  1. Sometimes it's the joy that went into telling a story that captivates people. If I'd written a novel in high school I would probably find it poorly written but still fun. I do have a short story that was written around the time of your first novel that I have lying around somewhere. I read it recently and was stunned at how much I enjoyed reading it.

    Objectively, I can see that it is a mess, but when I read it I can't help but think it's almost unputdownable. Yay for young me.

  2. You can't take the experience of being a writer away from a writer. Hopefully that's always the best part.

  3. It's always educational to look back at successes and failures. The most successful book is the one you put the most work into promoting. It's awesome when magic happens though.

  4. So far, I'm enjoying each new thing I'm doing more than the last thing I did, so I think that's a good thing.
    But I am going back, soon, to the novel I was first writing while I was in college. I abandoned that project at the time, but I still think it's a good story.

  5. And, wait, why is this your last Two-Cent Tuesday post? Did I miss something about that somewhere?

  6. I've noticed, as both a painter and a writer, that most of the time creative progress is slow and unrewarding, but on rare occasions it seems like the work is flowing through you of its own accord, using you as a conduit, and these are amazing and describable moments.



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