On being a “serious writer”

Some of the writers I’ve known in the past have been extremely cruel. These people called me a “hobbyist,” not serious about my craft. Actually, what was really going on was this: I was (1) working full time while (2) being  a single parent with three kids while,  (3) being diagnosed with clinical depression. Furthermore,  I was simultaneously in this order (4) losing my house (due to non-payment of child support) plus going to correspondence school, then dealing with my dying mother and my sick sister, then going to college.

All that happened while I was running Abyss &Apex. I was lucky to write anything. I was sneered at for not being a “serious” writer by writers who had no kids, no illnesses, and in many cases someone else to pay their bills. They could also afford to go to all sorts of conventions to promote their name and their work; I strained to afford travel and hotel for local cons even if I had free admission as a program participant. No money, no time. I had heavy obligations.

I soldiered on, and used my years running A&A to learn be a better writer, at first if by no other means than by the blunt repetition of what not to do in our slush.

About 10 years ago I also had to make a painful decision. Once my mother had passed away and I was able to have my own place, the boss upped my mandatory overtime to near intolerable levels. Would I use my scarce fee time to find a man to grow old with, or write? Doing both while working 70-80-hr weeks was physically not an option. I chose looking for a life-partner. And that meant there was no time to write. It hurt. I was so tired I fell asleep fully clothed. I worked overtime every day, all but every other Sunday. It was not an excuse; there was simply no time.

Choosing to find a life partner was the right choice. And while my marriage was at first marred by my obscenely overworked body temporarily falling apart, that finally seems to be over.

Now I can write. I’ve been straining  at the leash for over a decade, but now I can write. I have six books out, now, the most recent one last December. I published 4 poems, 3 shorts stories, and a non-fic article last year, too.

After all those years, my former detractors are either no longer in the game or have moved on and are important in the world of SF&F. Doesn’t matter. I race against me, not them. The only metric I care about is to do the best I can do, now. And I’ll make it.

Because, you know what? I was always a serious writer.