I'm sitting at the dining room table, a place where I have done a vast amount of the writing on my last two books. The cats are racing all over the place, chasing each other in and out and over and under boxes left over from the holiday making a racket, as they are wont to do when I'm writing. I'm drinking coffee out of my Boba Fett coffee mug that I just received as a belated gift, and I'm thinking that 2011 has been a rough, weird, surreal ride.
A few weeks ago, I saw the movie Hugo. It is an inspiring fill about a boy who fixes things and, even though he doesn't know it, people. The underlying premise of the movie is that everything has a function, even people. People are meant to do things, the trouble is, we usually don't know what we're meant to do, and even if we do figure it out, the world often conspires against us.
I was meant to tell stories. It doesn't matter if it's on a stage, or in a role-playing game, or typing them into a computer, or just teasing my son about why we don't use Scottsman's heads when playing golf any more. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, stop by one of my shows and ask me to tell you "The True Life Story of How I Invented Golf") I am, in everything I do, a storyteller. I'm one of the lucky ones that has figured out what I'm supposed to do, found myself blessed enough to have opportunities to do it, and fortunate enough to have people willing to see my shows and read my stories to make me successful.
In the last week of 2011, I sat down to lunch in my favorite pub with Damon Stone, one of the creative geniuses behind several of the trading card games produced be Fantasy Flight Games Inc. We spoke for several hours about bringing me in to write fiction for the Call of Cthulhu card game. In the middle January, I had my first contract as a professional fiction writer. We're off and running.
Flash forward pretty much twelve months later: I have four ebooks in the top 100 fantasy books on Amazon. They stayed there for about a day, except First Chosen which held onto a best seller spot for three days in the US and the UK. In October Halloween Jack and the Devil's Gate topped out at #14 on the Historical Fantasy list. I've written ten stories for Fantasy Flight Games. I've been invited to participate in a Horror Anthology. I received an honorable mention from the Writer's of the Future contest for my story "The Half-Faced Man." I had three books in three separate genres hold the #1 best seller spot on Smashwords for about two weeks. I even spoke as a professional writer for the Literature of Science Fiction and Fantasy class at American River College (a class I had taken when I was attending.)
My experiences at Renaissance Faires have been up and down. Some faires were great, again! Others weren't so great. Some were due to environmental factors that I really couldn't do anything about. Others were due to more human factors that, due to being just a stage show guy, also couldn't do anything about. I've made new fans and met old ones. At the Valhalla Renaissance Faire, someone recognized me from over ten years ago. At the Foslom Renaissance Faire, I had over twenty people tell me they come to that faire every year just to see my show. Not the Joust, not the parade of the dancing dead, not even the queen, (I do love you Deborah, but it's pretty cool to be the main attraction for people) they come to see the storyteller. And now they are buying the storyteller's books. I also had a brilliant man who has been a stage and street performer all his adult life, take a look at my show and demand me to believe better of myself. By the time the faire season ended, I was having bigger crowds and better reactions than ever before. Normally as November comes around, I'm ready for the few months break winter gives me. Now, I'm ready to go into next season with stories blazing. I've got at least one apprentice, and it's going to be a whole new "Bard's Cloak of Tales Show."
I won't bore you with the details of my personal drama, but there was much of it. Some is spilling into 2012, but that's what personal drama does. It's all going to work out, because things always do. Just know that when anything gets me down, I now turn to the words of Ray Bradbury, "You must stay drunk on writing so that reality cannot destroy you."
In 2011 I learned that I was meant to be a storyteller. I'm living a dream I've been chasing since I was in the third grade. The think is, I can't be a storyteller without an audience. Thank you all for helping make my dream come true.
Watch out 2012, here we come! For now, Boba Fett needs a refill.
"In these pages many mysteries are hinted at.
What if you come to understand one of them?"
"Words let water from an unseen, infinite ocean
Come into this place as energy for the dying and even the dead."
"Bored onlookers, but with such Light in our eyes!
As we read this book, the jewel-lights intensify."