Recently, I got about as close to beating a video game as I ever do: the last, gut-wrenching level that requires the player to compress all their long hours of training and resourcefulness into one fifteen minute battle with a nightmarish scenario dreamed up by some designer somewhere with too much time and not enough friends. Which is to say I lost. Repeatedly. And overall, the game wasn't an utter waste of my time and energy. I enjoyed playing it, and even more than that, I enjoyed playing the same company's next offering even more. It was evident that they had learned some things. A friend sitting on the couch next to me commented sagely as we waited for the scenario to load again so we could give it another go: "I would really like to see them remake this game with all the knowledge they've accrued." And I second that, however impossible such things sometimes are.
The decision has more or less been made. The publisher that had one of my novels gave me a contract to print out and sign, along with other instructions. The manuscript still remains to be formatted a certain way, saved a certain way, and submitted a certain way. And the months and months of waiting. But I've become cool with all that, mostly. Because I've abandoned them, I can freely outline my dreams of instant success, money, and celebrity, of my book finding it's way into the right hands, read by the right eyes, and through some strange turns of Fate, ending up on Oprah's book club just long enough for me to repay all my debts and start putting money into a retirement fund. Long enough for me to meet people and tell them that I'm a writer, and have a legitimate answer when they ask me if I have anything published.
The things I can scarcely remember writing back in college, and even before, my mentor would refer to as my "juvenalia" and according to him, one never publishes their juvenalia. And after I had made some strides, I understood why. The stuff was pretty atrocious. More accurately, it served its purpose and that purpose probably wasn't meant to be seen by anyone but my mother. "Oh, this is good, baby," she said. And likewise, I realized recently, the things I'm writing now are serving their purposes as well. I'm getting better, not as quickly or as easily (I believe they refer to this as the gradient of diminishing returns) but I am. And when I'm better, I will have more credentials as well, things I've done that were published that maybe didn't make a lot of money, but things with ISBN numbers and backing and readership. These things will make me worthy of that advance that I'll receive.
In other news, I have completed the first draft of the new sci-fi short. And it is a whale of an ugly baby. It isn't quite so terrible that a new father would cut the camera off before cutting the cord or anything, but it's violated more than a few personal goals I set out for myself when I write a short story, one of which is an economy of language. At the last writers meeting, someone pointed out the fact that anything can be done, if done well, but looking at the page number of my latest monster remains troubling.
So today is another day in the life. One of my most diligent readers (read: friends) has given me a thumbs up on at least the first small segment of the novel I'm also working on. I breathe a sigh of relief, and after I'm done with the sci fi short (Oh yes, it will be short[er]) I'll be diving back into that. These hard years will be the currency with which I barter for a bright future. says I. My high score will be etched in lights.