How do You Write a Book?

by on

“The best thing about writing fiction is that moment where the story catches fire and comes to life on the page, and suddenly it all makes sense and you know what it’s about and why you’re doing it and what these people are saying and doing, and you get to feel like both the creator and the audience. Everything is suddenly both obvious and surprising… and it’s magic and wonderful and strange.”
– Neil Gaiman
 

Now and then, people ask me about my approach to writing and I figured that would make an interesting story to share. Fans are often curious about how a book was created and fellow authors often looks for tips and methods, so I figured this could be a worthwhile bit of information to tell you about.

Okay, actually, that’s not true. I’m lying. No one has ever asked me about my approach to writing.

However, I believe in being prepared and thus, just in case someone does ask someday, I’ll be able to direct them to this nifty explanation I created ages before anyone ever bothered to inquire.

To be clear, I’m not talking about the creative process of how to get ideas and construct a story. No, I’m talking about the actual, physical labor of writing. Do I use a pen? Do I use a typewriter? Do I use a computer? Where am I physically sitting when I write? A desk? A coffeeshop? That kind of thing.

I began to write my first novels and short stories when I was a teenager. Back then, I used an electric typewriter on occasion but, I usually wrote by hand. I just preferred a good old pen and a notebook. For years, I used Bic Fine Point Metal Roller Pens with black ink and 0.7mm tip, and more than 20 years later, those are still my all-time-favorite pens to write with. When I become famous, I expect Bic to provide me with a lifetime supply. Thank you.

Although I had abandoned about 3 novels beforehand, The Gothic Rainbow, was the first novel I ever actually completed and I started writing it when I was about 22 years old. At the time I began, I still lived at home with my family. The entire book was handwritten, in notebooks, while sitting on my bed, in my bedroom, on Behrwald Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. That was it. I never wrote in any other location. I never wrote outside my house. Never wrote in another part of the house. The whole book was written in my bed. I had two or three notebooks containing notes and outlines, one pair of notebooks possessing a first draft, and one pair of notebooks with a final draft. So, at any given time, I’d be in my bed surrounded by a pile of 6 to 7 notebooks all around me.

As to the posters in the back of the book, which you can still buy today, those were all shot on film. For many decades, book covers were typically done by painters and illustrators. Since around the start of the 21st century, it became popular for graphic designers to create book covers using stock photography. Personally, I think using stock images is absolutely pathetic. I didn’t know anything about photography when I designed the images in The Gothic Rainbow, so I taught myself how to do things. There was no way I’d use some stock images created by someone else in order to represent something so personal and such a deep seeded aspect of my own creativity.

Therefore, all the pictures were taken by myself and a few were done by my then-girlfriend, Kathyrn. I worked on gathering those images for months, shooting photographs of my friends from the clubscene. I even went to the Cleveland Museum of Art and took shots of centuries-old paintings and masterworks of classic illustrators, so I could mix and blend those images into my photographs as well. I did all the work myself in Photoshop and in the end, I had made very surreal and moody collages that to this day I still feel do a great job of conveying the emotional tone and vibe of The Vampire Noctuaries duology.

When the full text of The Gothic Rainbow was finally finished, I borrowed a Canon StarWriter 30 word processor from John Rozack (uncle of my gradeschool friend Mike Rozack) to type the entire book and save it to 3.5″ floppy disks as a rich text file. That was brutal work. The machine had a thin little LED screen on it, so I could only see about one paragraph at time. Retyping close to 190,000 words, I was literally working about 16 to 20 hours a day, for 3 weeks straight. No breaks. No days off. I was typing about 9000 words a day. That was torture. But, I wanted to get it done as quickly as possible. It really pissed off Kathryn, because I literally didn’t see her once for that entire 3 weeks. We’d talk on the phone everyday, but we never got together face-to-face that whole time. I never left the house. I literally ate slept, showered, used the bathroom, and typed. What can I say? That’s what happens when you’re dating a writer who also happens to be a selfish jerk. Plus, I was really fueled by an intense hatred for all the people in my life who saw me as “lazy” because they don’t think writing is real work. So, I engaged in this self-induced psychotic marathon of typing as a way to slowly eviscerate myself in front of everyone just as a big way of saying, “Fuck you, I work harder than any of you can possibly imagine.”

When she discovered I had been creating a dark vampire novel, my grandmother commented that she wouldn’t have let me “waste all that time without a job if she knew I was writing that kind of junk.”

Ah, nothing like the emotional support of family.

Once I was ready to publish The Gothic Rainbow, I used a 1996 Macintosh Performa 6116CD and imported my original Canon StarWriter 30 rich text files into Claris Works 3.0. Incidentally, that Macintosh Performa was actually owned by the girlfriend whom I neglected for nearly a month. See, it’s true – jerks always get the cool chicks. Seriously, I’ll always be grateful to her for letting me do all that work on her computer, because I sure couldn’t afford one at the time. Really, I owe that all to Kathryn. I haven’t spoken to the girl in over 16 years, but I truly couldn’t have done it without her. Thanks again to John, Mike and Kathryn.

Anyhow, after everything was imported into Claris Works 3.0, I did all of my formatting, so I could print boards on a laserprinter to send to my printing company, McNaughton & Gunn, in Saline, Michigan. For those who don’t know, “boards” is a printing industry term for the final draft of printed pages that get photographed, so plates can be made to use on the offset lithography printing press. How did I find a printing company? Well, at first, I looked in the phone book and drove to a few local print shops in Cleveland and asked them about printing my book. As it turns out, most of them were incredibly expensive because most print shops needed to outsource books. I learned there were only about a dozen companies in the entire country with the ability to print books. Every other printer would outsource to them. I wasn’t sure how I’d find those other companies, so, I purchased a book called The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter and he had a list of printers in the back of his book. The idea was, you write an RFQ (which stands for “Request For Quotation”) to the printers and find out how much they would charge to print your book. Once you get all your RFQ’s back, you see who has the best price and that company becomes your printer. I started to send out a few, but, this was the days before email and I didn’t want to write a dozen letters. That was just too much work. Instead, I figured, “Wait a second! Dan Poynter would have already found the most economical printer for his own book! I’ll just ask him!” So, I called the phone number in the back of The Self-Publishing Manual and asked them where their book was printed and it was McNaughton & Gunn, in Saline, Michigan. Sure enough, once I got some RFQ’s back, McNaughton & Gunn offered the best prices.

Strange Coincidental Sidenote: Saline, Michigan is a very small town in the middle of nowhere. Back then, in 1996, they had a population of about 8000 people. It just so happens, not only was my first novel printed in that little town, but a tiny grass field airport in Saline, Michigan is also where I learned to aerotow hang gliders and became a licensed pilot. Very odd convergence of life experiences in the cornfields of Michigan. My first novel and my first solo flight as a hang glider pilot, both happened in Saline.

After the book was printed, the shipping company, ABF, trucked the books from Saline to Cleveland, but they refused to deliver the books to my doorstep, because 1000 copies of a 500 page book literally weighed about one ton. My girlfriend and I had to make 2 or 3 trips to their warehouse to retrieve my novels. We loaded the books into our cars and within a few hours of hefting them off an icy loading dock on a cold February night, they ended up on pallets in my grandparents basement.

So, that’s the whole process of how my first novel was created, between 1993 and 1997 in Cleveland, Ohio – written by hand, typed into a Canon word processor, formatted and printed on a Macintosh, sent to Michigan.

These days, all of my books are written in Los Angeles, where I’ve lived since 2003. I typically write my fiction on a Windows solid state laptop – namely a HP Pavilion dm3t-1100 Notebook. I never take it outside, or write in coffeeshops, or anything like that. I either write in my livingroom on my couch or I’m still writing in bed. I will typically use a text editor like EmEditor or Notepad++ to keep track of my outlines and all my notes and things. Consolidating all my notes into a text file replaces all the notebooks I had scattered around me. The actual books are written in Writer, the word processor in Apache Open Office 3.5. I really enjoy using the Open Office software because I can actually compose my book in the final format. Within the Open Office software, I set up my pages to the proper dimensions and I use the finalized font and everything. In other words, the book I see on my laptop screen looks exactly the way the actual printed book will appear. Obviously, I learned my lesson after handwriting my first novel and retyping it and reformatting it. I never wanted to put myself through anything like that again. I have to admit, composing on the laptop was a difficult transition to make. I missed my Bic pens. I missed my Mead notebooks. Psychologically, to change from composing novels handwritten to composing them while typing, was rather challenging. Handwriting was so natural and easy for me, it was actually very difficult to transition into writing on a keyboard. But I stuck with it and eventually, I retrained myself to compose comfortably on the computer and now I love it. It’s fantastic to just create the entire story right there in the final version. No retyping. No reformatting. There’s a great serenity in knowing I never have to go back and transcribe and every bit of formatting is finalized during the creation process; which obviously saves massive amounts of time, because I eliminated the need to spend weeks reworking the layout.

So, that’s pretty much it. Notepad++ for the outline, Open Office for the working and final draft.

As for the structure of the book from a technical standpoint, although I’m diligent about maintaining an ongoing archive of redundant backups, my approach is to make each chapter it’s own individual file. That way, if anything goes wrong and a file gets corrupted, I only lose a single chapter and not the entire book. Plus, working a chapter at a time also makes editing much easier. It’s quicker to jump to a chapter in individual files as opposed to scrolling through a 600 page document trying to find the page you’re looking for.

Speaking of editing, I don’t really have a set methodology for that. In the days of typewriters, you had a distinctive rough draft, first draft, final draft. I kind of just sit down and write for hours at a time. Then I might go back over the days work and try to tweak it a bit. Then I’ll usually just leave it alone until the entire book is done. Then I’ll go back over my book a chapter at a time and make sure the book is working. Check the flow from one chapter to the next. Pay attention to the pacing and the tone. Refine it. Tweak it. Move things around. Delete stuff. Add stuff. Whatever it takes. I just keep doing that, continually reviewing it, until it feels solid and really comes together.

Depending on the nature of the book, that process might take weeks or it might take months. Sometimes a story is really close to perfect right off the bat and you don’t need to tweak anything, you just kind of flesh out a few sentences and massage things together and it’s done. Other times, you might notice an entire aspect of the structure is wrong and you need to go back and make some major repairs to that original architecture.

So, as I said, there’s no such thing as a series of drafts for my stories. Editing and revising is a flowing, organic, ongoing, continual process until the book is completed. I know that was redundant but I was just trying to emphasize that the process is always churning along.

Once the book is done, all the individual chapters get inserted into a final single file. That final Open Office document gets converted to a PDF for submission to printing companies. Then I export another copy in HTML and I open that HTML file in Notepad++ to construct all the XHTML files to make my eBook. The XHTML process is rather long and arduous, but I have made a living as an Internet developer for over 15 years and spent almost half my career at Walt Disney Studios, so I have a lot of experience with programming and consequently, constructing an eBook isn’t all that hard for me.

As for the printed copies, those are set up with multiple companies. Doing things that way, simply allows for greater exposure of my books. Plus, if any of those companies goes out of business or their website goes down, readers can still go to a different distributor and buy a copy. There are a lot of authors out there who doesn’t seem to think that way. They will ask what company is the best and what company gives the most royalties and what company has the best printing and so forth. Personally, I think that’s ignorant. Why limit yourself? I believe that my books should be made available to my readership in as many different formats as possible from as many distributors as possible. Just makes a lot more sense to me.

The eBook versions are also available via multiple companies for the same reasons. Publishing through a diverse array of companies assures that the book is always available. Even if websites go down or companies go out of business, the redundancy of multiple distributors assures that my book will still be available regardless of those factors.

There you have it.

That is my fairly detailed explanation of how I write a book. The tools I use. The reasoning behind my methods. The locations and habits of how I write.

There are some authors who are very set in their ways. They never wish to deviate from the tried and true tools they have used in the past. As someone who has written short stories with electric typewriters, and formatted books with word processors, and written entire 190,000 word novels with pen and paper as well as laptop computers, I find that the tools don’t matter. Ultimately, the words are the only things that count. The tools used to compose those words are insignificant. The stories themselves are of the essence. Regardless if the words reach the reader by paperback or hardcover or audiobook or ebook or were written on typewriters or laptops or pens or chalk on a sidewalk, it makes no difference. The tools used to compose the stories (and the format in which they are presented) is irrelevant. The words themselves are the art. The words are the treasure. The value is in what the stories have to say, not in how they were created. The process of creation is inconsequential. The way a magician does his tricks is meaningless. What matters is the sense of wonder conjured in the magic.

Something You Don’t Know About Book Covers

by on

“I use a library the same way I’ve been describing the creative process as a writer — I don’t go in with lists of things to read, I go in blindly and reach up on shelves and take down books and open them and fall in love immediately. And if I don’t fall in love that quickly, shut the book, back on the shelf, find another book, and fall in love with it. You can only go with loves in this life.”
– Ray Bradbury
 

For those writers keen to design their own book covers, I wanted to share some graphic design tips that no one else has ever told them. Yes, it is once again burdened unto me to educate the world on something that no one else is aware of and I and I alone must rescue the teeming masses from their ignorance. Hey, it’s a thankless job, but someone has to waste their lifetime making the lemmings notice the cliff. Still standing in the rye like Holden Caulfield, waiting to catch them.

The tip is simply this – stop ignoring the rules of medieval heraldry! Be sure to follow that shit!

No, that’s not a joke. I’m completely serious. Most designers don’t know anything about the rules of medieval heraldry because they don’t teach that in basic design classes in school and I know if they’re a self-taught designer, they definitely have no fucking clue what I’m talking about. So, let’s start with a history lesson.

Back in the middle ages, households and kingdoms developed heraldic symbols that were used on shields during battle.

Today, most people ignorantly presume that such crests were done for ego. To announce to the enemy, “I’m King Fancypants! Beware my wrath!”

But no. That was not the reason. The reason was to identify friend from foe in the chaos of battlefields.

Have you ever been part of a medieval conflict with vast numbers of people fighting each other at the same time? Perhaps the closest you have come to such a thing is watching Lord Of The Rings and Braveheart. And believe me, movies do not do it justice. I have been there. I’ve lived it. I have been in the midst of medieval battlefields. I’ve seen it first hand.

Pennsic War.

I’m not going to bother explaining when and where the Pennsic War took place. I’ll let you figure it out. Look it up. Educate yourself. Some of you will think I’m claiming to be a time traveler. Some of you will presume I’m lying. And that small handful of you are now chucking to yourselves, because you know exactly what I’m talking about. After standing upon the battlefields of Pennsic, with wave after wave of lords and ladies fighting in sword to sword combat, I was finally able to understand the benefits of medieval heraldry for the first time.

In the middle of the fray, it instantaneously becomes crystal clear. Thanks to your shield device, the emblazon allows you to identify your comrades from hundreds of feet away. Even amidst the frenzy and anarchy of such a skirmish, it is easy to instantly spot your allies. There’s Duke Sir Laurlen, 50 feet to the right. There’s Sir Theodric, 30 feet behind me. Ah, I see Calum is still standing – oops. Maybe not.

Most people have never witnessed warfare like that. But imagine being at an amusement park, or a giant concert, surrounded by thousands of people, and having the ability to easily identify your brother or sister when they are 100 feet away. That is what the heraldry of shields was all about. It was far more than simply blocking swords and arrows. Your shield also doubled as a giant billboard to say, “I’m Prince Eric. If we’re on the same side and I’m 200 feet away, please don’t smash me with the catapult!”

What does all of this have to do with book covers?

Simple.

Just like a medieval shield on the battlefield, you want your book cover to stand out. To be bold. Identifiable.

Unbeknownst to most mundane folks, there are very strict rules regarding color combinations for medieval heraldry. Those who established these rules, and regulated this artistry, are known as “heralds”. Heralds learned that certain combinations of colors provide a more stark contrast than others. Thus, all shield crests are designed to follow these rules. That way, you can spot your King from 500 feet across the battlefield and you can make sure that your archers won’t accidentally shoot him.

What are these sharply contrasting colors used in heraldry?

Well, the hues (known as “tinctures”) of heraldry are divided primarily into 5 colors and 2 metals. (There are also patterns called “furs” but for the sake of brevity and clarity, I’m excluding those from this explanation.)

Colors:

  • Gules (Red)
  • Purpure (Purple)
  • Azure (Blue)
  • Sable (Black)
  • Vert (Green)

Metals:

  • Argent (Silver/White)
  • Or (Gold/Yellow)

Not to be confused with “emblazon” which is the actual picture on the shield, the word “blazon” means a way of verbally describing a heraldic coat of arms. The language of blazoning also involves strict rules of vocabulary and arrangement. By adhering to these strict rules, it allows heralds a means to record and reproduce shield devices, based purely on a vocabulary description. For example, the simple blazon, “Sable, a lion rampant or” looks like this:

Based upon the specific phrasing of that blazon, that shield will always be drawn the exact same way, by any herald.

Heraldic rules are very sophisticated and I’m not going to turn this into a lesson on heraldic studies. However, there is one very important rule in heraldry I want to get across and that is – you never combine colors with colors or metals with metals.

For example, you never put green lettering on black. You never put black lettering on purple. You never put white lettering on yellow.

You can put black on white. You can put blue on gold. You can put gold on purple. And so forth.

You always combine a color with a metal.

And that is what you need to remember when you’re designing a book cover. By following that one basic rule of heraldry, titles on your book covers will have the most stark contrast and therefore, they will remain vibrant and easy to read when they are shrunken down into tiny thumbnails or blown up into posters.

Now, for those who don’t believe me, or think this is anachronistic and outdated, because who cares about medieval heraldry, allow me to prove they are idiots.

You personally use medieval heraldry every single day you leave your house. Can you guess where?

Street signs.

Believe it or not, all street signs, in countries all over the world, conform to the heraldic tincture rules established hundreds of years ago. Colors on metals. Metals on colors. Stop signs are gules with argent lettering. Deer crossings are “Or, a deer rampant sable”. The names of streets are azure with argent lettering. Speed limit signs are argent with sable lettering. One way streets are sable signs with argent arrows containing sable lettering. Just like the shields on a medieval battlefield, modern day traffic signs all conform to the tincture rules of heraldry, so you can read them clearly from a far distance.

Thus, I invite you to work at following the rules of medieval heraldry when titling your book covers. You may presume such an idea is contrived and obsolete, when in fact, it’s based upon principals that you use every single day, you just never knew you were doing it.

And, yes, you will notice that all of my books do follow the rules of heraldic color contrasts. My vampire duology was intended to look like tooled leather, so they are not exactly conforming to heraldic tinctures, but there is a slight darkening to black around the gold lettering, to make it stand out more.

I practice what I preach, ladies and gentlemen.

One last note, I have studied art and I made a living as a graphic designer for many years, doing everything from magazine advertisements to sales campaigns for multi-million dollar retail markets. In addition, I do all my own photography and have sold my work in art galleries and photographed Playboy models like Katie Lohmann, Pamela Mars and Gwendolyn Sweet, so I know what the hell I’m doing and I can design my own covers. However, due to my extensive experience as a designer, I can also concede when something is beyond my capabilities. When I require artwork that exceeds my skillset, for example a great illustration or painting, I would not hesitate to hire an artist who is better than me, and art direct the covers.

Most self-published authors should probably follow my example and stop trying to do their own covers. Your book covers make you look like fucking douchebags. Seriously. Most self-published nimrods design book covers that look like they were drawn in fucking crayons by an eight year old. Okay? Readers should definitely judge your book by the cover, because if the writer makes a shitty cover they clearly didn’t create with care, it’s safe to presume the writing will be utter trash too. Please, authors, stop trying to make bookcovers and just hire someone better than you and let them do their job.

On second thought, I take all of that back. I’m sorry. Nevermind. Since those writers clearly don’t really care about the overall quality of what they are publishing, keep those shitty covers. Horrendous covers provide a fair warning to discerning readers they shouldn’t ever bother to read such trash. We’d hate to give readers the impression that these writers actually cared to produce work of quality. Right? That wouldn’t be very noble. At least those crappy covers reflect some honesty. You horrible authors, keep on truckin’ with that tripe.

With Enemies Like That, Who Needs Friends?

by on

“At forty-two I had come to that point in my life toward which I’d struggled since I’d been a child: a place of security, importance, recognition. The only one from this town who had made it. The ones who had had the most promise in school were now milkmen, used car salesmen, married to fat, stupid dead women who had, themselves, been girls of exceeding promise in high school. They had been trapped in this little Ohio town, never to break free. To die there, unknown. I had broken free, had done all the wonderful things I’d said I would do.”
– Harlan Ellison “One Life, Furnished In Early Poverty”
 

I’m a liar. I’m a fraud. I’m a hypocrite.

For my lifetime of posturing and preaching about pursuing your dreams and making your wishes and hopes come true, I’ve never done it myself. I’ve never even tried.

I know what you’re thinking. “Yes, you have, Eric! You do everything you dream! You became a licensed hang glider pilot soaring over a mile above the earth. You moved to Hollywood with no job and ended up working for Walt Disney. You’re a published novelist. You go skateboarding in California pools with girls who win medals in the XGames. You’re an award-nominated filmmaker. Your photography has appeared in art galleries and you’ve worked with Playboy Playmates and television stars. You date fashion models. You’re an equestrian. A motorcyclist. You’ve been dragged by horses and fallen off motorcycles and you’re badass enough to still be walking and talking about it. What haven’t you done?”

Well, the truth is, all I ever really wanted to do, the only way I ever truly wanted to make a living, was as a novelist. Nothing else. All the other things I have achieved in my life are things I’m happy about, and proud of, and certainly grateful to have experienced, and my varied career choices have been honestly fun and enjoyable. But I have never sincerely pursued my one great passion. I have never even attempted to make a living as a novelist. I’ve never attempted it. I’ve never submitted a single manuscript for publication. Not one book. Not one essay. Nothing. I’ve never queried an agent. Worst of all, in my efforts to self-publish my work, I only spend a couple of months doing any marketing and promotions before I grow bored and just give up on it.

Earning a cushy 6-figures a year as a novelist – as a career, that is the biggest and oldest dream I have ever possessed. And I have never even tried to make that dream happen. Not really tried. Only half-heartedly.

I’m ashamed of that. I feel like such a putz.

Worst of all, I lied to myself. I convinced myself that simply writing novels was enough. I told myself that the act of creation was the only reward I required. But it is precisely because that bliss of creation is genuinely sublime, that it’s not enough. The work must earn a living for the artist, simply as a way to assure the creative process can be maintained for a majority of all their days. The addiction to art must be fueled by the success of the addiction.

That’s why I’m a liar and a hypocrite.

I always tell people to pursue their passions and personally, I have only ever pursued my own passion in a half-assed way.

No one has ever noticed. No one has ever called me out on it. Not until a few months ago, one person brought it up. But no one else ever has. I have written novels. I have published novels. Therefore, I can legitimately call myself a novelist and no one can contend that fact. That’s all I need in order to “fake it” and trick the world. Make everyone think I’m “going for my dreams” when I’m really not.

Often have I complained that friends and family have never had much faith in me. Not that they expect me to fail. They just seem indifferent to the outcome.

Oh, sure, they say the right things. I might occasionally hear a “that’s great” or a “good for you.” But no one who says that ever means it. If they were genuinely supportive, they’d actually purchase and read my books. None of them bother to do that and actions do speak louder than words. Anyone can say they are supportive. Another thing to truly be supportive. Friends of mine have actually posted on websites about other people they know publishing books, but they never bothered to mention any of the numerous books I’ve written. In fact, I knew one girl who was doing a fundraiser for her dance troupe on the Internet and I tried to help her out and I reposted her promotions all over my social media sites. Getting the word out for her as best I could. When I asked her to return the favor and let people know about my latest book release, you know what she said? She said she didn’t have time to promote my stuff, because she had to focus on her own project right now.

See? I’m telling you, I truly don’t have any friends. I have numerous acquaintances and selfish fucking assholes. The friends slot is full of cobwebs.

Heck, I’ve even put some friends in my books as cameo characters, and those people never read my books either. Some people who have been part of the artwork and images in a few of my novels have never bothered to read the book. Obviously, this is not indicative of the quality of the story. Not like the writing is bad, so they can’t stomach reading it. No. They don’t even pick up their copy of the book in the first place. When friends don’t even care enough to read a book you have written them into, are they really friends at all? Perhaps I’m mislabeling mere acquaintances with more credit than they actually deserve.

Therein lies another way in which I’m a hypocrite. So frequently I claim to not care that friends and family show no support. Truth be told, it bothers me a lot. I am always nagged by that same concern: “If the people who supposedly care about my fortune and success, don’t really give a shit, why would anyone else? If these people don’t care enough to read my books, who will?”

Then, I finally realized something.

I finally realized I had it backwards.

I realized I was being unfair. If I truly want to be a successful author, the key is to discover and cultivate fans. To nurture an audience. People who will appreciate my books because of the writing, not because they know me. And that audience must consist of hundreds of thousands of people, not a few dozen friends and family. If I sincerely want to make my dreams a reality, I need to think on a much larger scale and fans are the people I have to rely upon. No one else matters. Not friends. Not family. Not old coworkers. Not former classmates. Those people serve very different purposes in life. Friends and family are not here to help me realize my ambitions. That is not their job. To imbue them with such an expectation is my failing, not theirs.

The people I need to care about are the ones who value what I create. No one else. I used to think successful “marketing” meant I needed to share my literary accomplishments with everyone. All the time. Starting with friends and family. Now I realize that was never the proper attitude. Success stems from sharing your craft with the people who give a damn. Sharing it with anyone else is a waste of time. Regardless of whether they are friends, family, or strangers – if they don’t support and share an enthusiasm for your work, they are useless to your success. Throw those people overboard. So long as they are uninterested or cynical toward your achievements, they have no place in your journey to fulfill your dreams and ambitions. Get rid of them. Banish them from your life.

Perhaps I was wrong all along. Perhaps for some of us, friends and loved ones are never meant to be supportive. Perhaps their role is to play our villains. Perhaps in the stories of our lives, they are destined to be our antagonists. The ones who doubt us. The ones who push us. The ones who test our mettle and force us to hold firm in our convictions. The ones who challenge our resolve and thereby strengthen our commitment to attaining the goal. They are the embodiment of all which threatens to usurp our determination. They are the first monsters we must defeat. They are the teachers who show us how to defy the world and prevail against everyone who opposes us.

To be a writer, you walk the path alone. There are no friends. There are no confidants. No comrades nor compatriots. There are no crowds on the sidelines cheering you to victory. To bear this task is to tread through desolation. To be abandoned. To be forgotten.

On the road to nowhere, you shall cleave no companionship.

How glorious. To gaze about and see you need not tarry for anyone to keep pace, you need not be impeded by any who presume to detour your journey.

The quest be a lifetime. And what a triumphant trail lay before thee.