When I began writing my first novel, I had no idea what to expect. I was very much engrossed in creating the story, dreaming it, feeling it to the fullest and journeying with my characters through a world of peril and friendships. Those first three characters – a wolf, a rooster, and a warhorse – were my companions throughout the writing, editing and publishing of The Three Feathers. I loved having them around, listening to what they had to say, fearing for them, and enjoying their company. That was my reward – writing the story and figuring out, with them, what was next.
Then came the publishing phase. I had no clue what to do, what not to do and how it all worked. I read several books on self-publishing, followed a few blogs and made many friends on the way – friends who, like the characters in the book, stayed with me until this day. I dreamed of being a successful writer. I actually picked out a house in our neighborhood where we would live once I hit it big time. Peter Jackson was about to call me any second to offer me a movie deal on The Three Feathers. If you are a writer reading this, I know you know what I’m talking about. Okay, it might not be Peter Jackson who is optioning your book but I’m sure it’s someone of equal caliber.
After a while, reality set in and it occured to be that it wouldn’t be that easy. Who needs a bigger house anyway, right? Then came writing The Fourth Sage and with that the doubt that the book would never amount to anything and that, at the end of the story, I would just realize that I had wasted a whole year on nothing. Well, that’s not the case, obviously. I’ve gotten enough reviews to assure me that I didn’t pour my heart out for nothing. At least a few people liked it. That should be enough. But what is enough? I’ve been pondering this question for a while. Is Hugh Howey’s success enough? Am I enough for myself, right now? What does it mean to be successful? It can’t be sales rankings. That would be cruel and I don’t want to live my life like that. I am more than a bunch of numbers that may or may not have any meaning.
Where am I going with this, you might ask, and rightfully so. It hit me today. I went into my favorite local bookstore, INQUIRING MINDS in New Paltz, New York. I went in there as I do about twice a week, to check if they need more copies of my books. I’ve sold quite a few through them. About 400 of The Three Feathers and already ten in the last week of The Fourth Sage. So, when I walked in there this morning, it hit me. “I made it,” I thought. Two years ago, I had barely begun the journey that is self publishing and today, I walked into the book store to see this:
Today brought home to me how much had happened in the last two years. There is a book of mine on display in a book store – one of those stores that I had admired all my life – where you smell that old book smell and sit and read and talk to the owners who have most likely read a good number of the books they sell. What comes after this, after today, wherever this journey will take me, is just gravy.