Three and a half years and almost 512,000 words later, I’ve finally finished my first trilogy. Well, a trilogy in five parts, anyway.
I was living in Redmond, Washington at the time, deeply depressed and trying to come back from the worst time of my life. I wasn’t just broke, I was depressed. I had been fired from my job and narrowly avoided jail time because of some stupid, stupid choices. I lost half of my friends. I had to move out of state (California) and start over from scratch, sleeping on my friend’s couch. Things weren’t great.
I flew up to Alaska for a week to see my best friend’s baby son right after he was born and found myself out bar-hopping that weekend to say hey to people I wasn’t friends with in high school like things had changed after graduation. I found myself walking the streets by myself, mind clear and taking in the way the streetlights bounced off of the snow with the kind of focus only the truly, deeply lonely have.
It was February and it was cold, so I ducked into The Anchor, a now-closed sports bar, to warm up and maybe grab a drink. The dance floor was packed and clumps of friends hung on each other, taking pictures they could or would only share a fraction of, screeching at each other in decibels only be heard by dogs and drunk white girls.
I wanted a clump, too, but I was clumpless. Dejected, I decided maybe I’d be better off finding a drink somewhere else and started to turn away. Through the crowd came one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen and she headed straight for me. She embraced me and told me that she believed in me and that she thought I was a talented writer from the stuff I had put up on Myspace/Facebook.
Now let’s back up a second. The first time I had ever seen this woman was seven years prior to our bar conversation. I was a sophomore in high school and I was in my United States History class. It was towards the end of the year and she was graduating, so she poked her head through the window from outside to say goodbye to my teacher and I was immediately taken by her. I made it a mission to say hi to her the next time I saw her and introduce myself. Unfortunately for me, there wasn’t another opportunity before the school year ended.
I would see her around town from time to time after that but I figured it would be weird to stop her out of nowhere just to say hi, me being this kid she’s never seen before. What would I say? How would I say it? I felt weird for even wanting to do it, honestly. But then a day came that she popped up as a mutual friend on MySpace and I said, “Fuck it” and sent her a friend request. To my surprise, she accepted.
I still didn’t say hello.
For over a year we were friends online, our only communication being my sending her a message for the holidays as I did to all of my friends, and her appreciative response.
So it surprised me that she would recognize me in person at The Anchor. It surprised me even more that she would take the time to come and say hello and that this relative stranger, one who I had admired and been intimidated by for years, would tell me that she believed in me, that she would tell me she felt my writing had promise. I was surprised she even paid attention.
I’m not big on God or fate or destiny, but I do like playing the long odds. I like the idea of luck, good and bad, of high and small percentages, of chance. I don’t know what the chances were of my being in town that week, deciding to go out, deciding to go downtown, deciding to duck into the same bar she was in at the same time she happened my way, for her to recognize me or choose the words she did, but I needed it bad. That one interaction changed things for me in a big way.
I went back to Washington a renewed and inspired man. She and I started a dialogue via email that would lead to our having a long, strong friendship. I started to write.
I dug out a few shoddy chapters I had written the summer before that had been inspired by a dream (not something that happens to me often, as it turns out). A lot of what I had already done was garbage, but there was some stuff worth salvaging there.
For the next six months, I hammered out Waypoint, my first novel and the first part of what would become the Convergence trilogy. The words came quickly and easily. I had developed some severe bronchitis around that time, too, so a large part of that could have been because of the codeine cough syrup I had been prescribed and was using semi-irresponsibly.
Along the way, I picked up a couple friends who volunteered and agreed to read and edit as I wrote (my friend Ben and his wife, Karina, who I didn’t know too well at the time, which actually worked out perfectly because she was very blunt about her opinions). At the end of those six months, Waypoint was finished and I found myself new problems to have: I was terrified to release it.
What if it sucked? What if nobody liked it? What if they made fun of it? What if my friend from the bar was wrong about my writing? What if I was a fool for wanting to pursue writing as a career (this last question still plagues me)?
Ben and Karina insisted that I was wrong, that the book was good stuff, that it would all be fine. Gradually, I gave in. Tentatively, I self-published and released the book online. To my astonishment and relief, the general consensus has been that it is, in fact, a good book. The reception was so positive and the enthusiasm so high in regards to discussing the characters, the world they lived in, and the plot twisting through it, that I decided to split the second and third novels into two halves so I could get my readers more material faster.
Death Worth Living For came next, and it was around this time that I gained arguably my two biggest fans: a pair of traveling jewelry salespeople who would host a couple events a year at the jewelry store I worked in. They would read as they traveled, one of them speaking my words aloud while the other drove. When we saw each other, they would pelt me with questions about the characters and their motivations and actions. They would theorize what would happen next (often, they were wrong. Sometimes, they would give me an idea I hadn’t considered before).
I was most of the way through As the Earth Trembled Part One when my grandparents – for all intent and purpose my parents, as they had adopted and raised me since I was five – both passed away and the woman I loved left me for someone else.
I was able to finish and release that half of the book, but it took a long time for me to get my confidence, my inspiration and my wits back. Longer than I’d like to admit, but I was able to work through it eventually and yesterday I released As the Earth Trembled Part Two for the Kindle, finishing the Convergence trilogy (in five parts) once and for all.
Three and a half years. Over half a million words. I’ve sold almost three thousand copies of the books, which is not a lot, really, but I’ve paid a bill or two and bought a drink or ten with what I’ve made. I’ve accrued some four and five star reviews that I’m proud of, and though I got some separation anxiety regarding my characters as I finished up, it’s so rewarding to see other people, friends and strangers both, grow equally as invested in them.
If you, my faithful, wonderful readers, would like to check out the books yourselves, refer them to a friend who might like them, or get them for someone as a gift, here’s where you can find them:
And if you’ve read these books so far, if you’ve taken a chance on my work – whether you enjoyed it or not – or suggested them to friends or family, or even lent a copy to somebody: thank you so much. Your support means the absolute world to me. I may write to get the ideas out of my head, but it’s an audience that gives those ideas their first breath of life.
As for me, I’m on to the next one.