Hello, and welcome! I hope the holiday season is treating you all very well. Around this time each year, I write a blog post called State of the Sanderson. I usually post it on or around my birthday, which happens to be today. (So, happy Koloss Head-Munching Day to you all.)
These posts run long and are extensive essays that go over what I did during the year, updating you all on the projects I've been working on, then doing a rundown of projects that I'm planning. (Find last year's State of the Sanderson right here.)
I hope you'll find this helpful and interesting. Storytelling is not an exact science, and things don't always go as planned. At the same time, I believe it important to be up-front with you all. I know what it's like to wait for years to read the ending of a favorite series, and I appreciate your longsuffering support when I jump between projects.
In teaching my university lectures and workshop, I interact with many, many hopeful and talented newer writers. Their excitement, and worry about the future, reminds me how fortunate I am to be able to do what I love for a living. In the story of the ants and the grasshopper, I get to spend my life making music—but instead of letting me starve in the winter, you bring me in and give me something warm to eat, then you listen while I tell you a story.
It's strange to consider what might have been. How many plausible variations of life are there where I'm not a professional novelist? Did I hit on the one perfect sequence of events that brought me here, or would I have muddled my way through even if Moshe hadn't agreed to look at Elantris back at a party in Montreal in 2001?
Though I deal in the fantastic as my daily labor, the scene where I'm not a writer is one scene I have difficulty conjuring. Would I be a professor perhaps? I do enjoy teaching, though only in moderation. (When I had to teach the same class multiple times in a day, I found the experience monotonous. One course a year is just about right for me—exciting, vibrant, and involving new things to teach and talk about.)
Indeed, early in my graduate studies, I realized I'd never make it as an academic. Ironically, I discovered that doing all the things in my writing program that would prepare me for a good Ph.D. or MFA course (being on the staff of journals, assisting professors, traveling to conferences) would prevent me from actually writing—so I threw all of that up in the air and doubled down on my novels. Some of my colleagues went on to professorships, but I was never really headed that direction.
For me, it was always write or bust. I don't know what busting would look like—but I do know that, barring something truly insane, it would involve me ending up with a closet full of dozens and dozens of unpublished manuscripts.
As an aside, for those who didn't hear the story on tour this year, my second son (who is six) has started to figure out what it means that I'm an author. He came up to me a few months ago and said, "Daddy. You write books!"
I said, "Yes!"
"You sell them, so we have money for food and our house!"
"And when people visit, you give them books from the garage! That's how you sell them!"
I often give copies of the books to friends who visit, and in his six-year-old understanding, this was how we made our living. But hey, there are worse things to be than a garage novelist with a trunk full of demo manuscripts.
In any case, you have my sincere thanks for your support! I'm glad we're not in the alternate, dystopian Sanderson timeline where I have a goatee and have to spend my life selling people insurance.