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I'm coming up on an anniversary, the end of twenty years as a published writer.

I sold my first short story in 1990.  In the middle of that afternoon, I got a phone call in my tiny apartment in Davis, where I was attending the University of California's master's program in creative writing.  This fellow on the other end of the line started talking about events happening at night, which was confusing, and how night-time stories were a part of his magazine's theme.  After a couple of minutes I realized I was talking to the editor of After Hours, and that he wanted to buy my short story, "No Small Change," but I had no scene in it at night.

I agreed to a small rewrite, and I'd made my first story sale.  Wowza!

In the twenty years since, I've sold 98 stories total, published numerous non-fiction pieces in a variety of venues, sold three collections and one novel (hooray Fairwood Press).  I've also been a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and a Nebula finalist, missed the Hugo ballot by a vote (the year I forgot to vote), had numerous stories reprinted in various year's best collections (which I think is the equivalent of winning an award), and parlayed my writing successes into many speaking gigs, some of which paid money.  Writing income has been a part of my tax returns since 1990.   Oh, and I blog about a hundred-thousand words a year or so about writing and teaching, which I also consider a part of my writing career.

The work has been steady overall.  Counting the books and non-fiction, I've averaged a sale of some sort every eight weeks for twenty years.

In 1989, if you would have told me that I would sell a story to either Asimov's or Analog, I would have counted that as a successful writing career.  If you would have told me that I would sell several stories to each and to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and Weird Tales too, I would have assumed you were high. 

So my two-decade retrospective leaves me very happy.  It's been a good twenty years, well beyond my hopes and expectations.

I feel like I'm a young guy (certainly an immature one).  The next twenty years of writing life should be interesting.  At least I hope so.

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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
kmarkhoover
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC)
awesome success and well-deserved

happy anniversary!
jimvanpelt
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Congrats on your sales too! Have a great end of the year and 2011.
joeicarus.blogspot.com
Dec. 5th, 2010 02:45 am (UTC)
I enjoyed reading this look back--how exciting! Congratulations!

(And may my own first sale come soon!)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )