I made a choice, long about 1980 or so. And I have not regretted that choice. I became a teacher instead of the writer/artist I thought I wanted to be. And the more I look back on it now, if I had gone the writer route back then, I could’ve eventually become an author like Terry Brooks who wrote the Shannara books. I might’ve even been as good as R.A. Salvatore whose fantasy adventure stories have reached the best seller list. Back then, in the 1980’s I could’ve eventually broke into the business and been successful. Even as late as when Frank McCourt broke onto the literary scene with his memoir, Angela’s Ashes in 1996, I might’ve been able to transition from teacher to writer the way he did. But I chose to keep going with a teaching career that enthralled me.
Publishing and the literary scene is changing now. And it is no longer possible for someone like me to break into the big time. I am an author who has come aboard a sinking ship.
But I have stories to tell. They have lived inside me for more than thirty years. And I am scrambling now to get them told before my crappy old body completely betrays me and makes the chance go away. I will get them told… even if no one ever listens.
And there are some advantages to doing it the way I have done it. It is, and always has been, about the people in my life. My wife, my children, my students, my co-workers, my cousins by the dozens, my little town in Iowa… they are the people in my stories. My stories are true to life, even if they have werewolves and fairies and living gingerbread men and nudists in them. I live in a cartoon world of metaphor and surrealism, after all. I would not have had the depth of character-understanding in my stories without my experiences as a teacher. And I really don’t have to worry about the whole marketing thing any more. I am not on that treadmill. I do not have to be aware of what the market is looking for. If my writing ever turns a profit, I won’t live long enough to see it anyway. And that has never been what it is all about.
I can do anything I please with my stories. They belong to me. I do not owe the world anything. What I give you now in this blog and in my books, is given for love, not profit. I can even write a pointless blog post about Sunday blather and illustrate it with Tintin drawings by Herge. And you can’t stop me. And, hopefully… you don’t even want to.