2011 was a magical, wonderful, stressful, terrifying, bizarre and life-altering year. It began with the unexpected publication of my debut novel Dragon’s Teeth, which changed the trajectory of my career aspirations and drastically altered my life’s ambitions.
While working on the edits for Dragon’s Teeth, I was also writing my Master’s thesis titled Film, Music and Induced Mixed-Emotion. At that time, I was still pretty certain I’d end up with a career in music research but over the course of the summer, something changed and I became less enamoured with statistics and more interested in writing SF short stories.
With the thesis out of the way, I pursued my fiction aspirations, joined Scribophile (a writer’s critique community) and fell in love with Duotrope.com. These two websites changed my life. I wrote, I suffered through and then learned from critique, revised, submitted and was published numerous times. And all this only since August. But the realisation that trying to make a living off short story sales and small press novel sales is a bit like trying to get my shiba inu puppy to stay on command (pretty much impossible) I resorted to freelancing. After a random conversation with a Russian girl in my Finnish language class, I discovered the world of online freelancing jobs. A Google search and several hours later, I was signed up with a number of sites and had real, actual we’ll-pay-you-to-write-this work piling up. Some of it was less than awesome and some of the jobs were and are fantastic, giving me the chance to combine my passion for music and travel with my passion for writing. It’s jobs like those that make all the hard work worthwhile.
Having been published close to 50 times this year across fiction and non-fiction genres and earning a decent amount of money for my writerly efforts, I feel that I can now call myself a writer. Who would’ve thought I’d end up here? In high school I wanted to be a quantum physicist, got a scholarship to study chemical engineering, ended up studying music and now having spent more than 20 years in the pursuit of musical knowledge, I’m kicking it all to the curb in pursuit of my first love: writing. I have no formal writing education. I read, I received good grades for essays in high school and attended some lit theory classes at university. No larney MFA, no writing workshops, swanky conferences, expensive online courses – nothing except my love for words and my imagination. I’m probably not the best writer, I know for a fact that I’m not and that I have years worth of craft-honing and learning ahead of me before I stand a chance of joining the ranks of the greats (if ever I get there) but the events of 2011 have shown me that with hard work and some Finnish sisu (having the guts/balls to do something), my dreams of being a writer are within my reach and that I’ve taken the first few steps on that long and twisty road.
I owe a lot of this success to the unfailing support of my other half, Mark. Whenever self-deprecation threatens to engulf, he’s there to rescue me and set me back behind the keyboard. He’s a constant source of support, picking up the pieces after every rejection, celebrating the little victories of every acceptance, understanding that I’m not always actually rooted in reality and that my mind tends to wander mid-conversation. I wouldn’t have done this without him since he was the one who encouraged me to submit Dragon’s Teeth in the first place.
2011 also saw a new addition to my little family. Lego, the shiba inu – a bouncing bundle of fluff with tons of character crammed into such a small body. Here’s a picture of him from Christmas, looking ever so handsome and regal:
So the successes of 2011 will be tough to top, but I’m hoping that with continued hard work, 2012 will see me a little further down that road towards being a successful writer.