Contemplating Seppuku

GUEST AUTHOR POST BY W. DANIEL WILLIS

I have a confession to make, it’s been three weeks since I did any serious writing. I’m supposed to be finished with my next book right now. Fact is I’m a little less than halfway through. I’d like to blame it on the holidays or the fact that I’m juggling writing, being Mr. Mom, and taking a class in programing. Heck I’d settle for blaming it on my rampant ADD, I’m easy that way.

Truth is, however, that I’m not writing because I’m just not seeing any future in it. The writing industry is changing rapidly right now and even if I got a contract on my last book, who knows if the market will be there when it comes out? Then there’s the whole e-self-publishing route where no one really knows what’s going on but we know that some people are selling millions of books. Quite frankly it sounds like there are better odds playing the lottery. (For the mathematically challenged, playing the lottery is only slightly less risky than throwing your money down the garbage disposer.)

So, for the last three weeks or so, I’ve been kicking an idea around in the back of my head.

What if I just quit?

I mean lets face it, while I have been published four times, I haven’t cracked the level of success where I can actually make a living. I used to be a hotshot computer programmer and, while my skills are very rusty, I can whip them back into shape. Programmers make good money (provided you move out of Utah, which I could do). Heck, I’ve worked in the game industry and have contacts there, maybe it’s time to resurrect that dream.

So what if I quit?

I don’t have a fan base to speak of, so there’s no one to disappoint. Writing is an incredibly time consuming activity. Who knows what I could do if I got that time back?

So that’s what I’ve been thinking. Maybe it’s time to commit professional seppuku and move on. It wouldn’t be my first career that went that way.

I wrote the previous thoughts this morning while my youngest played with her barbie and the sink full of dishes glared at me, meaningfully. I got busy (though I studiously ignored the dishes) and didn’t post it. Then a few minutes ago, while checking my email, I got a newsletter from a professional friend of mine, a writer of great talent, renown, and success. It was his periodic newsletter to friends and aspiring writers and it’s message was simply; “Don’t Quit.” The letter detailed the struggles of top shelf writers like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and James Joyce. I have to admit I’d heard most of it before and didn’t really pay much attention. What I needed was the subject.

Don’t quit.

I’m a religious man and I believe God has a plan for everybody. I believe you have to go and find it, and that he’ll lead you to it if you’re listening. I’ve been praying for guidance as I moved through the black labyrinth of the last few weeks. If this isn’t the answer I’ve been looking for, I don’t know what is.

So that’s it then. The wakizashi goes back in the scabbard and I move on.

I’ve got twenty chapters left to write in Traven’s Gambit (my latest book). I’m going to take tomorrow off to get my head right and hit the ground running on Monday. I plan to be done five weeks from now on the 27th of February. From there, it will be off to the editor for a few weeks then back to me for revisions. That should put the whole shootin’ match over by Easter.

Wish me luck. I’ll keep you posted.

Tracy’s Note: Dan Willis is a friend of mine and author of four books set in the Dragonlance world. I thought you might find some thoughtful ideas in his post.

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