The last one, a bit offtop, Me and Klaudia-- We dream about becoming a fantasy writer. I'm sure she's wondering too: how does it feel when your first book was published...
Man that's so hard to define. I'm a writer, I should be able to do this, but it was amazing. It's validation for having spent twenty years trying to learn how to do this. Maybe not twenty. Fifteen years trying to learn how to do this. At the same time, theoretically in some way it's also just a released breath. Okay it happened. It worked. But at the end, you write for yourself. I don't know if you guys have heard this story; I've told it before, but I had a really down point in my writing career before I got published.
Yes the four hundred-- uh, when you sold Elantris.
See, when I was trying to get published, everyone was telling me you need to be more like George RR Martin. They really did. They'd say that, and they would also say my books are too long. So they would tell me these two things. You need to be more like George Martin and your books are too long. They were all looking for Joe Abercrombie. That's who they wanted to find, right? They wanted short, brutal books. And Joe's a great writer, so there's nothing wrong with that, but that's not me. And I tried doing that. That's what Final Empire Prime and Mistborn Prime--unpublished novels--were. I took some of my ideas and I tried to write something more Joe Abercrombie-esque, even though Joe hadn't been published then. So it was just a short, sort of grimdark thing, and they were terrible. They were absolutely terrible. And so I sat back and I'm like, "Okay, nobody wants to read what I'm writing, but if I try to write what they say to write, it turns out to be a terrible book. Should I just give up?"
And I thought about that for a while and I eventually came to the decision: I'm not writing for them. I'm writing for me. That's the point. And if I die at age 90--let's say age 100 *laughter*--and I have 150 unpublished books in my closet, then I'm a success, because I kept writing, because that's what's important, was enjoying and loving that process. Even if I never got published, I wanted to be that person. And that's when I sat down and wrote The Way of Kings [Prime], which was my proverbial flipping the bird at the industry. I said, if you say my books are too long, I'm writing one twice as long. If you say my books are not George Martin enough, I'm going to go the complete opposite direction. High magic, high fantasy, all the awesome stuff. Knights in magical power armor. All of this stuff. And I wrote that book fully expecting no one would ever publish it. And that's when I got the call from an editor buying Elantris, which I'd written five years before at that point. It might have been four years, but you know.
But when Elantris came out, I'd already made the decision that I'm a writer, no matter, I don't give up. I write for me. And so in some ways it was hugely relieving and thrilling. But in some ways the more important decision had already been made. I was a writer, and I didn't need that validation to be a writer. Because the only one that says whether or not I'm a writer is me. I get up every day and I do it.