Cybermancy Launch Day-Never Give Up

My second novel, Cybermancy, officially hits store shelves today. It actually hits them over a three week period that started about a week and a half ago. That or the two fan mail posts I’ve already gotten is coming to me from the future. That would be cool but disturbing since time travel has been known to give me hives.

I could babble about what Cybermancy is about here, or talk about WebMage, the book it follows, but I won’t. I’m going to give you some links to reviews of both books to cover that ground. Since many of the Cybermancy reviews aren’t accessible yet, I’ve posted transcriptions of several at Wyrdsmiths (my home blog). For WebMage which has been out for a year let me just note: SciFi.Com, Romantic Times, blogcritics.org, and Huntress Reviews (scroll down the page for both Cybermancy and WebMage). I could also talk about the sequels, CodeSpell, slated for June ’08, and MythOS, Summer ’09.

Instead I want to talk about how I got to the place where I’m blogging about my new book on this very spiffy website for science fiction and fantasy novelists. It involved a lot of not quitting. I frame it that way instead of talking about following the dream because following the dream is the easy part. Dreaming of writing a book is easy. Setting out to write is easy too. Not quitting when the writing becomes difficult or the world dumps on you is hard.

In the acknowledgments of Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty and the Midnight Hour there’s a note that says “to Dan Hooker for calling the day after I almost decided to quit.” Every writer who’s followed the dream to fruition knows about that day, or those days, as the case may be.

It might be the day you got the rejection letter for that first novel, the letter that finished off the set of major publishers and killed the book for the foreseeable future, the one that meant that if you wanted to be published it would have to be the next book or the one after that. It might be the day your agent called to tell you the 3 book deal that tied all of your work up for the last 2 1/2 years had been killed at the last minute by marketing. Or it might have come earlier, when you realized that after taking three years to write the first book, it was now going to take another one to revise it.

The reason is almost immaterial. The decision not to quit is what really matters.

For me it came in 2005. I had a good agent who believed in my work, more than 20 short stories either in print or forthcoming, 2 novels in the trunk and 5 out with various editors none of which had sold. I also had family stress at levels that damn near broke me. I was depressed, not clinically, but damn close, and I felt like 15 years of hard work had officially gone to hell. But worse, far far worse, I wasn’t enjoying writing. I was doing it—I can’t not—but I wasn’t taking the joy from it that I always had.

When I hit bottom I spent probably three hours staring at the ceiling and doing nothing but thinking about how something I had loved and pursued for years had crashed and burned. I tried to figure out what else I could possibly do with my time—I was writing full time. The answer was nothing. Nothing. There wasn’t anything else that appealed to me. I don’t know what I’d have done if something else had occurred to me but the fact that nothing did was totally bleak at the time. I felt like the only thing I wanted to do was going nowhere and would continue to go nowhere. In retrospect it was a powerful moment. I had come to place where I realized that writing wasn’t just something I did that I could walk away from. It was who I was down in the bedrock.

The next day I got up and wrote, though I didn’t much enjoy it. And the next day. And the day after that. Somewhere in there I started to love the work again, and here I am two years later watching Cybermancy appear in the bookstores and I’ve rarely felt better. So, if you have a dream and you’re where I was a few years ago….

Don’t quit. It’ll be the best decision you ever made.

I’ll be happy to talk about not quitting or following the dream, or even that book thing that comes out today in the comments area below.

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There are 8 comments. Get the RSS feed for comments on this entry.

  1. 1. SarahP

    A good story, Kelly. The best advice I ever got was “NEVER SURRENDER”.

    Good luck to your book today!! May many copies leap off the shelves and into readers’ hands!

  2. 2. Kelly McCullough

    Thanks Sarah,

    I remembered your comment on that and it’s a good part of why I chose this story for today.

  3. 3. Kelly McCullough

    Should have mentioned this earlier. Mindy Klasky and I share a launch date today. Hers is the post directly below this one, go have a look.

  4. 4. Alma Alexander

    That was a great post.

    Congrats on the new book!

  5. 5. Kelly McCullough

    Thanks, Alma. Much appreciated.

  6. 6. Ashok Banker

    Great post. When it comes to writing, ‘Don’t quit’ is right up there with ‘When the going gets tough…’ and ‘A quitter never wins, a winner…’ Another way is to take an eff you attitude to the whole shebang, everything (and everyone) that you feel is holding you back or keeping you from your goal. Call it the wall, and all a writer can do is jump higher each time and yell, ‘How high?’

    Still jumping after all these years.

  7. 7. Kelly McCullough

    Thanks Ashok,

    I wish you a high jump and a clean landing on the other side.

    Lisa, thanks for the link and the post.

    Much appreciated.

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Author Information

Kelly McCullough

Kelly McCullough is a fantasy and science fiction author. He lives in Wisconsin with his physics professor wife and a small herd of cats. His novels include the WebMage and Fallen Blade series—Penguin/ACE. His short fiction has appeared in numerous venues including Writers of the Future and Weird Tales. He also dabbles in science fiction as science education with The Chronicles of the Wandering Star—part of an NSF-funded science curriculum—and the science comic Hanny & the Mystery of the Voorwerp, which he co-authored and co-edited—funding provided by NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope. Visit site.

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