decade in review

December 30, 2019

It’s that time again, everyone’s posting not just the year in review, but the decade in review.

Here’s the one I did ten years ago. That was a big decade.

This decade has been about consolidating, I think. Becoming established in my career rather than being on the rise. Going through my stuff and throwing a bunch of it out, making my house look like a grownup lives here and not like a college dorm room.

The trouble with consolidating is it often doesn’t look like progress.

(The political situation in the U.S. has gone completely to hell in the last ten years, and definitely feels like the opposite of progress. Let’s leave that aside for now.)

Ten years ago, urban fantasy was at the height of its popularity. I was publishing two Kitty novels a year plus side novels. My career felt kind of huge. Since then, I’ve changed agents, changed publishers, and my career looks quite a bit different. Instead of signing four-book contracts for a bestselling series, I’m basically selling one book at a time as I write them. I confess, as a type-A planner I kind of miss knowing what I’m doing several years in advance. My career has a whole lot less structure than it did ten years ago. This time last year I had nothing in the pipeline. Now, I’ve just released two novellas, have two more coming out in 2020, two short story collections, and a novel. That’s how things work now — I literally don’t know what my situation is going to look like a year from now.

On the other hand, in the last ten years I’ve been nominated for the Hugo twice, won the WSFA Small Press Award, the Colorado Book Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and am, in fact “established” in a way that still seems weird.

So I need to interrogate the concept of “progress.” What does “farther along” actually look like? Making more money? Selling more books? Having more stuff? Bigger stuff? Or just feeling better about things? Does the concept of “progress” take into account things I have no control over, like the state of publishing and the country’s political situation? In fact, there may not be such a thing as progress. Just rolling with it.

So, consolidating has been a good thing, I think. If I spent my twenties and thirties hustling my ass off, I’m spending my forties taking stock and building a foundation for what comes next.

The crazy thing is I’ve usually felt like I had some rough idea of what came next. (Type-A planner, did I mention?). Now? No clue. No idea. But whatever it is, I hope I’ve built a pretty good foundation for it.


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