We are approaching Koloss Head-Munching Day—the day of the year that happens, by utter coincidence, to coincide with my birthday. (December 19th.) I'm turning forty this year, which isn't as dramatic for me as it might be for some others. From the way I act, people have been joking for the last twenty years that I was "born forty." I guess I'm finally just catching up.
It's been almost twenty years since I finished my first book. I can remember joking with my friends in college (whom you might know as Lieutenant Conrad from Mistborn and Drehy from Bridge Four) that by forty, we were all going to be rich and famous.
The thing is, I always intended to make that dream happen. Not necessarily for the "rich" part or the "famous" part, neither of which interested me a great deal. I just knew that without a solid, stable writing career, I'd never be able to make the Cosmere happen.
Perhaps that's where this whole "born forty" thing came from in the first place. I basically spent my twenties writing, slavishly trying to figure out how to craft stories. Friends would tell me to relax, but I couldn't, not when these dreams of mine were so big. It should be mentioned that despite what our society would like to believe, hard work doesn't always equate with success. For me, luck played a huge part in my being able to sit here and type this out for you.
Still, here I am, and I honestly can't imagine things having gone better. People often seem bemused by my productivity; when I get together with fellow authors, they sometimes jokingly refer to me as "the adult" in our group. I get this—for a lot of them, writing is more of an instinctual process. Sitting and talking about the business side of things, or their goals for writing, flies in the face of the almost accidental way they've approached their careers. And it works for them; they create great books I'm always excited to read.
However, sometimes there's also this sense—from fans, from the community, from us authors in general—that whispers that being productive isn't a good thing. It's like society feels artists should naturally try to hide from deadlines, structure, or being aware of what we do and why we do it. As if, because art is supposed to be painful, we shouldn't enjoy doing our work—and should need to be forced into it.
If there's one thing that has surprised me over the last ten years, it's this strangeness that surrounds my enjoyment of my job, and the way my own psychology interfaces with storytelling. People thank me for being productive, when I don't consider myself particularly fast as a writer—I'm just consistent. Fans worry that I will burn out, or that secretly I'm some kind of cabal of writers working together. I enjoy the jokes, but there's really no secret. I just get excited by all of this. I have a chance to create something incredible, something that will touch people's lives. In some cases, that touch is light—I just give a person a few moments to relax amid the tempest of life. In other cases, stories touch people on a deep and meaningful level. I'll happily take either scenario.
Almost thirty years ago now, I encountered something remarkable in the books I read. Something meaningful that I couldn't describe, a new perspective, new emotions. I knew then that I had to learn to do what those writers were doing. Now that I have the chance to reach people the same way, I'm not going to squander it.
I guess this is all a prelude to a warning. I'm working on a lot of projects. Many of these tie together in this epic master plan of mine, the thirty-six-(or more)-book cycle that will be the Cosmere. Even those books that aren't part of the Cosmere are here to challenge me in some way, to push me and my stories, to explore concepts that have fascinated me for years.
These last ten years have been incredible. I thank you, and I thank God, for this crazy opportunity I've been given. I don't intend to slow down.
I'm not embarrassed to be "the adult." Even if I've only just hit the right age for it officially.