Twenty years ago, I started writing a handful of fantasy stories about my favorite D&D character. They were very bad stories, though I didn’t know it at the time. All I knew was how much I enjoyed the process of creating them, of coming up with other characters and plot twists and exploring different ideas and possibilities. So I kept writing. By the following year, I’d finally figured out what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a writer.
Almost fifteen years ago, I accepted a job with the State of Michigan. In the beginning, I was fixing computers for the Department of Transportation. My one condition for taking the job was that I be allowed to write during my lunch hour. Over the next decade and a half, I wrote about ten books and dozens of short stories. Most of that writing was done from noon to one o’clock, Monday through Friday.
Nine years ago, my book Goblin Quest came out from DAW Books. It was my first novel from a major publisher, and marked a very important turning point in my career. I’ve been with DAW ever since. They’ve published ten of my books so far, with the eleventh coming in February of next year.
One year ago, my wife began working full time as a therapist, a job that came with health insurance and other benefits.
Two days ago, I informed my bosses that I would be quitting my job at the end of next month. Starting in September, I’ll be a full-time writer.
There were a number of factors behind this decision, some of which involve my family and I won’t be talking about here. But the end result is that I get more time to write. More energy to devote to creating stories, inventing characters and worlds, and exploring new ideas. Not to mention more time at home with my kids.
I am excited and overwhelmed and frightened and impatient and eager and thrilled. I have ideas for two new novels, and feelers out for a third. I’ve also thought about other projects, experiments I can try, new directions to branch out and see what happens.
This is a huge change, and I’ll be talking about it more between now and the end of August: the financial considerations, the restructuring of my day-to-day life, the mental/emotional/physical impact, and probably a lot of other pieces.
For the moment though, I’m in a bit of a daze. I’ve been writing for twenty years. Given my own health issues, the need for insurance for myself and my family, and the financial realities of writing, I spent most of those years believing I’d never be able to write full time. Even when I started talking about it with my wife, I don’t think I really believed it. It wasn’t until I said the words to my bosses that it became real.
It’s actually happening.
I’m quitting my job.
I’m going to write full-time.