Five years, and a strange toll
I spent part of today going through old blog posts, trying to track the progress of my head five years ago. This is because, just over five years ago, Heart of Veridon dropped onto (and through) bookshelves in the UK. My friends and I have often joked that I'm the most famous American born British author you've never heard of. Almost all of my short stories were published in Interzone, and two of my first three books were from Solaris (stationed in Nottingham at the time). So it feels appropriate to celebrate that five year date, rather than the US release, which is still ahead of us.
So. Five years. Let us think.
In a lot of ways, I've been disappointed in myself. When I page through those first three books, I see a lot of errors, not just writerly errors but errors of intent. I wonder what would have become of my career if hurdle after hurdle hadn't knelt down in front of me, if I had been in a better headspace when trying to write those books. If my depression had been better managed. But those things happened, that was the writer I was when Veridon went through me, and so that's the way things are.
I see other mistakes. I struggle with inclusion in my work. Every book I try to get better at it, but every book comes short of my expectations. There are plotting issues. Plodding issues. Problems with language and art and artifice. I keep trying to be different things in my work, and I'm not sure any of them ring true to what I actually am. I'm still not sure about that. I'm pretty sure I'm never going to be as good as I could have been, much less as good as I want to be.
But I go back and read reviews of Heart of Veridon, and they make me genuinely happy. So maybe I just need to learn to be a little lighter. A little less anticipatory of my own failure. Because looking back takes a pretty heavy toll on my head. And there's nothing that can be done about it.