Twenty years ago today, I stayed up all night talking with my spouse about whether we could afford for me to quit the horrifyingly bad coffee shop job that I’d had for one day and instead write full-time.
We walked around Green Lake at dawn, and I dropped off my resignation letter at 6am. I haven’t quite written full-time during the twenty years since then, because I’ve also been parenting two kids, now sixteen and ten.
During the last twenty years, I’ve written:
244 short stories
7 short story collections
1 poetry book
a handful of essays
I’ve edited five anthologies and 18 magazine issues. And I currently have more of most of those things underway.
Just this week, I reread the very first short story I wrote after quitting that coffee shop job, and I still think it’s really good. I’m working on a sequel to it, and I have plans to weave many of the characters from those early short stories together into a novel.
I love all the things I’ve written in the last twenty years. I love them all so much that I’m still working with my earliest stories, weaving them into collections that will let them shine better, and working on ways to keep those characters alive for myself.
Writing is a strange calling. Sometimes people call it a career, but in spite of my success (which is not insubstantial), I’ve never made enough money at it to really feel like ‘career’ is the right word for it.
But it’s what I do with my heart, my mind, and my time.
There have been days when I’ve felt like a rock-star, signing autographs and answering questions from fans.
There have been days when I’ve felt like no one sees my words at all, that I’ve just been screaming into the void.
But I love my words. And so I will always keep writing.