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More Eureka! | 2015 | The Neil Gaiman I Know


For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.  

-Ernest Hemingway

Apologia Pro Non Scripto

Before my class arrives, one of the YDAs (who act as combination security guards and dorm parents to the residents at my job) asks, "So, you write books?"

I laugh. He is new-we are always getting new YDAs as people leave because this job is draining and thankless-but I have had some version of this conversation with at least half of them eventually. "I have three novels out and an anthology, yeah."

"You say that like it's nothing."

I shrug, though this comment startles me a little. "I guess that is because, to me, it isn't much. I am nowhere big yet. I love writing and I think I am getting much better at it, but I am barely above a beginner."

"You were talking earlier about some place paying you to be there?"

I nod. "No Such Convention at Vassar."

He shakes his head and waves me away.

It is clear that he thinks this is false modesty, but I genuinely feel as though boasting about my marginal successes is silly. I have been shopping Flies to Wanton Boys around in hopes of getting a bite from a publisher with a broader distribution and I just have gotten one rejection from a publisher I had come to like. My royalties from Amazon could just about buy me a dinner a month. I have not seen biannual royalties from my publisher in a year because I have not sold enough through them. The brightest point in my writing horizon is that I am working with tweens and teens through a local library to put out an anthology of their work, which is highly inspiring for me. I want to bolster and guide these kids, to give them what I feel like I didn't have (though I likely did, albeit not in so organized a way).

Earlier in the day, because my books are in the school library, other YDAs were speculating how many more books I would need to have out before I was too good for them. I assured them that the lure of state paid for health insurance was still too great and I couldn't put my finger on a number that would satisfy me.

I do not think that I am capable of thinking I am above anyone because of my writing. Being a novelist at my level is humbling. Perhaps when people recognize me at events I am supposedly headlining, I can pretend to feel arrogance when it comes to what I write, but I doubt it.

Still, I cannot contest that I write even more now owing to my lack of satisfaction. I am like an addict, unable to feel a thrill from what would once have brought me to blithering ecstasy. I am putting the finishing touches on Pagan Standard Times, so I have something new to sell, as well as querying other publishers for Flies to Wanton Boys. I am aware I have been far less active on writing entries here than I had hoped to be, though I have considerable notes enough that I should be able to pick at the backlog once this book is out. I admit, too, that the reason is that writing here doesn't directly pay me, whereas putting out books and stories might. It feels like procrastination, but it does end up producing 130 page books of essays about Paganism.

Consider this my apology for having been so quiet on this site and my likely broken promise that I will try to be better about posting.

Soon in Xenology: No Such Convention.

last watched: 12 Monkeys
reading: Prince Lestat
listening: Sia

More Eureka! | 2015 | The Neil Gaiman I Know

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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