Almost twenty years ago, I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Robert Jordan, writer of the Wheel of Time series. Book four, The Shadow Rising, had come out in hardback, and Mr Jordan was signing books at a independent bookstore in Sacramento, California. I do not recall the name of the bookstore, and it, like many independent booksellers closed down. This was before Robert Jordan was the international mega star who reportedly had limousines picking him up from the airport and driving him to the San Diego Comic Con. (I cannot speak to the validity of this rumor, but the hopeful, future, international mega star in me likes to dream that will be me someday.)
At that point, I'd been reading The Wheel of Time for about two years, maybe two and a half. My god mother had gotten me The Eye of the World for my birthday and I devoured it and immediately went onto The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn. Upon finishing book three, I sat down to wait for book four. Yeah, I've heard some newer readers complaining about the time some writers take between books. Well, I've been reading Jordan since 1990, that's longer than some of his current fan base has been alive.
But, enough of my digression.
Mr. Jordan was the first writer I ever met in person, and the first writer to ever sign my books. He was a charming man, very gracious. The line was short enough that he took several minutes to speak with each of his fans who cam to see him. Of course, I asked him about writing. My twenty year old self had dreams of making it as big as Jordan, despite that I didn't really know anything about writing at the time. (I thought I did, but didn't you know everything about everything when you were twenty?) He spoke to me about his process, and how he approached the writing as a linear process, as opposed to some writers who bounce around, writing whichever scene they feel like. The last thing he said, after I asked for the one piece of advice he'd give to a young and hopeful writer was, "Don't give up."
This was two years before I started the short story that would eventually blow up into Spellpunk, six years before the first pages of the first attempt at Tears of Rage, nine years before I figured out that the main character of that project needed to be a woman, ten years before I wrote the original first line on my birthday, "The god Grandfather Shadow opened his eyes in a mortal host for the first time in a thousand years (a line that never made its way into the final draft of book one), seventeen years before I received my B.A. in creative writing from SFSU, and nineteen years before Halloween Jack went in search of the Tomahawk of the Four Winds so he could try and kill the Devil.
In all the years between my one meeting with Robert Jordan I've had some dry spells that lasted months and in one case years, but deep in my heart, I've never given up. I always dreamed I'd be up there with Robert Jordan, with people asking me to sign copies of my books for them, giving advice to young and hopeful writers. I never gave up. Thanks to the ebook revolution, I can say that twenty years later, I'm scratching it out on a bestseller list with Robert Jordan.
So, there we have my little indie book First Chosen right there in the top of the bestselling "Fantasy Series" in the Amazon Kindle Store. I think it's pretty cool. I wish Mr. Jordan could have lived to see this, although I don't delude myself that he would remember me from all those years ago. I would however, politely remind him of our conversation as I asked him to sign the last several books in his series for me. I guess I'm going to have to settle for recounting the story to Brandon when I see him at Bay Con at the end of May.
I'm sure that I'm going to get knock off this list eventually. It happens to almost every writer, and I'm not big enough yet to dream that I'm at the point where I have this kind of sustainability. I will however continue to live up to those words that got me here in the first place, "Don't give up." Thank you Mr. Jordan for telling a twenty-year-old know it all what he needed to hear, even though he didn't put it to practice for more than a decade.
Oh, and just because I think it's cool, here's another writer I'm catching up with:
"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."