by Chris F. Holm
Every writer fantasizes about what their life will be like once they have a novel out. Lord knows this one did.
It's been two years since my first Collector novel, DEAD HARVEST, was released. Sixteen months since its follow-up, THE WRONG GOODBYE. The conclusion of the trilogy, THE BIG REAP, came out six months back. That means there’s enough time and words between me and HOLY CAPSLOCK I'M A REAL LIVE AUTHOR for the flush of pie-eyed romance to fade, and my life to settle into some kind of new normal.
So… what's it like?
Vast stretches of my life aren't all that different. I still have a day job. I still park the same car at the same house as I did before my books were published. Said house is messier than it used to be, because my writing output's increased considerably. Some of that was by necessity; I had a tight deadline for THE BIG REAP, and I was determined to deliver it on time. But mostly, I attribute the increased output (two finished novels in addition to the one I owed my publisher, and a handful of short stories) to the fact that I feel like I've been given my shot, and I'm determined not to waste it.
And then there are those short bursts of utter insanity that underscore just how much has changed. A conversation in a limo with a literary idol. Knocking back drinks with a table full of old friends you just met at a book con. Reading to a packed house. Reading to an empty room. Signing books, which at first feels completely weird and wrong and oh by the way there are no do-overs if you screw up the inscription. Getting your first bad review, and feeling like someone ripped your heart out of your chest. Getting a fantastic one, and fixating on the one thing they didn’t love. Freaking out a fan by tweeting at them. Realizing that writer whose books you hate is the nicest person on the planet. Realizing that writer whose books you love is kind of a jackass. Realizing people feel the same in both directions about you.
The highs are beyond anything I dared hope for. And the lows, I quickly realized, are the sorts of lows all authors feel. Sure they suck – but they mean you’re in the game.
It's a hoary old saw that college is the best time of your life, but there's a kernel of truth in that statement. Thing is, it's only half-right at best. For many, college is the wildest, most challenging time of their lives, before settling into the long, hard slog of adulthood. It's the best and worst life has to offer all rolled into one deliciously melodramatic package.
That's what it’s like to have your books out in the world. Thrilling. Gut-wrenching. Wonderful. Horrible.
But damn, if it ain't living.