2019 in review (writing stuff)

Things what I learnt in the last year about myself, publishing, writing and maybe even life. Plus other things what bear repeating.

  1. I started a Patreon. I don’t believe my patrons actually read it – I think they’re just supporting me because they’re nice people. First instance of imposter syndrome.
  2. Finishing a trilogy is terrifying and devastating. The uncertainty about whether I’ve nailed the climaxes, and the genuine grief at saying goodbye to characters who’ve been with me almost as long as the love of my life, is a monstrous tornado of emotions and panic.
  3. Going back to work after an extended break to be a ‘proper writer’ left me feeling as if I’d squandered my one and only chance to fulfil my lifelong dream. It knocked my confidence in pretty much every aspect of my life and I’m still trying to get my head around it and reminding myself that ‘work’ is just a job to pay the bills and ‘writing’ is my career – even if it doesn’t, currently, pay the bills. Second instance of imposter syndrome.
  4. Starting writing in a new IP – Age of Sigmar for Black Library/Warhammer – was unexpected and pleasing. Continuing to write in that IP – by invitation from the editors there – is challenging and rewarding and helps my imposter syndrome a little bit. Plus it’s load of fun. age of sigmar
  5. Submitting the first book of a new series to publishers is FAR MORE frightening than submitting Godblind ever was. It’s my chance to prove I’m not a one-trilogy author but do have other ideas. Which is a relief, as for a long time I didn’t know myself whether I’d have another story in me after spending so long in Rilpor with Dom, Crys, Tara, Rillirin and the rest. Third instance of imposter syndrome.
  6. Moderated my first panels, at Edge-Lit and Bristolcon. They seemed to go pretty well and we had good chats and stayed on topics. No fights. Not as scary as I’d imagined, and I think that’s because I’ve been on a fair few panels as a guest so I’ve got more of an idea how to run them. Plus the panellists were great and responsive, which always helps.
  7. Started playing DnD. Fell in love with it. Currently own the handbooks, the monster manual, and three sets of dice.
  8. Three sets of dice is not enough.
  9. Currently writing my first mini-campaign in DnD which I’m going to DM. Terrified. Will get it all wrong and everyone will have a terrible experience. I know that’s not true, but I can’t stop thinking it. I know my friends are patient and excited and will help me through it, and they’ll do stuff that’s fun even if I mess up. Doesn’t help the nerves. Fourth instance of imposter syndrome.
  10. Never, ever, ever, EVER, knock off your own mask in a longsword fight a split second before your instructor executes a perfect Fendenti.                                                mask malfunction day 2. Jul19
  11. Was invited to Elfia in the Netherlands along with Bradley Beaulieu to sign books and do panels and interviews. Did not dress warmly enough for April. Froze. Had a huge amount of fun anyway. Hope to go back. Brad was a consummate professional – he got up at 7am to write several thousand words before the event while I wallowed in bed. Not good enough; must try harder. Fifth instance of imposter syndrome.                                                                       IMG_20190413_225020
  12. Three sets of dice is STILL not enough.
  13. Did lots of research for my new series as I was writing it. This may or may not be the best approach as I found myself going back and editing stuff I’d already written. Had a panic about stepping out of my comfort zone. Convinced it’ll be a failure. Friends and family talked me down; still not sure I believe them. Sixth instance of imposter syndrome.
  14. Went to Worldcon in Ireland. Had an amazing time. Sat with Peter Brett and SA Chakraborty and Anna Smith Spark and RF Kuang at dinner. Felt out of my depth. Did three panels, one moderated by someone who knows way more about the subject than I ever could in the rest of my life. Had no idea what to say. Panicked. Fluffed my lines. Got roped into a panel at the last second when I’d already had a couple of drinks. Had the time of my life (not advocating drinking to deal with crippling inferiority complex). Went for a drink with Joe Abercrombie and Joe Hill. Mostly hid and then compared British and American horror stuff with JH and felt like a fuckin’ boss. Went to a publishing party and hid in a corner with my friends. Seventh instance of imposter syndrome.
  15. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t written for a day, a week, a month or a year. You’re still a writer. Life gets in the way; that doesn’t make you a failure or a bad writer. That’s YOUR imposter syndrome talking, so find a stick and beat it to death. Be realistic about what you can achieve. The words will wait. The words will always, always wait. That’s the beauty and the power of them, that they’re patient and true. (This is aimed at you. You know who you are.)
  16. Three sets of dice will NEVER be enough.
  17. Imposter syndrome is a liar that wants to make you its bitch. Don’t let it. When it strikes, lean on people who believe in you and allow yourself to take praise; it’s a good antidote even if it makes us feel uncomfortable. Sometimes you’ll need to acknowledge that it’s got its claws in you and you just have to ride it out. But as soon as you can, reaffirm to yourself that you’re doing okay and every day you get a little bit better. It may never go away, but it will get easier to chase with a big stick.
  18. Be kind. Be brave. Be true.
  19. It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.

Happy 2020. Save the planet. Kick fascists. Love your friends and family. Take risks. Piss on imposter syndrome. Be happy.

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