Welcome to my worlds!

I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Everything I know about making it as a writer

Edmund Schubert and I will be doing a workshop called "The Business of Publishing" at the Regulator Bookshop in Durham on Saturday, April 4, at 3pm. Ed is particularly well qualified to speak on this topic, having made a living as an editor, as well as also being a fiction author with dozens of stories in print and a recently released debut novel, Dreaming Creek. My own qualifications include four novels in print, a dozen or so short stories, and a long history of lessons learned after years of stubborness and willful ignorance.

For instance, one lesson I learned is that stubborness and willful ignorance are valuable atributes for any artist to possess. If I had really understood the realities of the publishing industry to the degree I do now back when I started down this path, I probably would have been completely demoralized. My ignorance didn't come from a lack of exposure to the realities--I talked to other writers and heard again and again how tough it was to make a living selling fiction--but somehow, I cheerfully decided that their experiences had no bearing on my path.

And, I was right. Everyone's path is different. There is no single model to making money writing fiction that anyone can point at as the right path, nor as the wrong path.

I was talking to a friend this weekend and she asked what kept me going, writing for all those years without any promise of publication. I answered, only half-joking: Spite. I'd had enough people over the years tell me that I wasn't going to make it that any time I found myself faltering and thinking of giving up on my dreams, I couldn't help but hear them saying, "I told you so." Slogging on to avoid hearing these words got me through the toughest moments. When hope, ambition, and desire failed me, spite, shame, and sheer existential terror could keep me crawling forward. These things all congeal into stubborness, one of the greatest human traits ever to evolve.

There. That's everything I know about making it as a writer. We have 90 minutes to fill. Wish me luck.

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