Last week was a pretty big deal for me. I had a sitdown with my boss. The first thing I told him was that I needed the coming Tuesday off because my wife's digital paintings were going to be featured in an exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Art, and I wanted to be there to celebrate with her.
The other thing I had to tell him was that this would be my final semester working at the college. Regular readers of the blog may be wondering if I told him I'd have those reports on his desk as soon as he EATS MY ASS!
I did not.
I like my boss. And I occasionally like my job. The best part about it is just how little has been expected of me for the past eleven years. Short hours and long vacations have afforded me time to write what has been written to date of the hilarious Caverns and Creatures series of novels and short stories, while still being able to keep a roof over my kids' heads and food in their bellies. For that, I am grateful.
The decision to quit my job, uproot my family, and move back to the United States was not one taken lightly by my wife and myself.
Ask a hundred randomly-selected self-published authors what they ultimately hope to achieve through their craft. Maybe four will say they want to change the world. Perhaps another four, if they're honest, will admit to just wanting to touch a female breast before they die.
The overwhelming majority, however, will tell you that their ultimate goal is to be able to support themselves (and their families, if it applies) from their writing alone.
Precious few writers, self-published or otherwise, move enough books to make this dream a reality. And for most of them, I imagine the process is pretty straightforward. They simply quit their job, and hopefully spend more time writing. If it doesn't work out, they can pick up in their careers where they left off.
But then there's my case. I've been teaching English in Korea for the past fourteen years. To most employers in the United States, that's tantamount to having been unemployed. Add to that the fact that I have no marketable skills outside of writing fart jokes and being able to fluently speak my native language, and my prospective career paths look pretty grim.
So, while this approaching new chapter of my life will no doubt be an exciting one, it's also pretty terrifying.
I've made some questionable choices in the past, and have found myself hungry and broke on three different continents. But ever since I got married and had a family, I've been more responsible with my decision making. Or at least, I'll propose a stupid idea, and my wife will shut that shit down immediately. But she's on board with this one. In fact, she may be even more enthusiastic about the idea of moving our family across the world to be unemployed than I am.
We're not jumping into this blindly. Enough of you good people have purchased my tales of people shitting themselves in a fantasy setting that I've been able to purchase a few rental houses back in the States. We'll be starting our new lives in one of those. The downside to that, of course, is that I'll have one less rent check coming in every month. But while I can't guarantee food or furniture, at least we'll have some goddamn walls to stare at while we starve.
One more thing we have in our corner is timing. Right now, book sales are in kind of a relative slump, because I'm in the novel-writing phase of my cycle. That means a long, long stretch of no new releases. I'm getting close to the end of writing Critical Failures IV, though, and it's impending release should give me a nice little boost, and will also put me in my short story-writing-phase of the cycle, with new releases more frequent and sales a-plenty while my family and I face the inevitable challenges such a big change will involve, such as me finally having to learn how to do grown up shit.
This post is kind of wandering. What I mainly wanted from it was two things. I wanted to make my big announcement, and I wanted to say thank you.
So here goes...
My family and I are moving to the United States, where I will be a full-time professional writer, and SFA else!
My wife, No Young Sook. It takes a lot of faith in a person to believe another person who thinks they have the chops to make a living as a writer. Young Sook has backed up that faith with more than words. She's made sacrifices. Getting the kids ready for school alone every morning while I screw off to the office to get a few hours of writing in before work. Taking the kids outside for a few hours so I can tap out a couple words on the weekends. (The biggest trick to being a writer is getting away from kids.) Thank you, Young Sook.
My brother-in-law, No Hyun Jun. Another of the biggest challenges we're going to face is living without my brother-in-law. Not only has Hyun Jun made all of my book covers, but he has always been there to sort out my many, many computer problems. Thank you, Hyun Jun.
The rest of my Korean family. None of them have the English ability to read my books, and that's probably a good thing. But they've always been very supportive of me during the rough times, and excited for me during the good times. Thank you, Korean family.
My editor, Joan. With the exception of Naga Please (she was on vacation), every one of my books has passed through the Joan filter, and come out way better on the other side. I wouldn't be making this announcement today without her help. Thank you, Joan.
My boss, Choi Yong Son. He took a chance on me eleven years ago, giving me the job I'm currently leaving. With a more demanding or time consuming job, I would never have had the time or energy (or office) to write as much as I have. Thank you, Professor Choi.
Saturn Five Sound. At the time of this writing, Travis Navarra and Jonathan Sleep have produced three of my audiobooks, and are working on catching up to my writing. These have been more popular than I ever expected, and listeners have heaped praise on Sleep's voice acting. Thank you, Saturn Five Sound.
DeadPixel Publications. We aren't a very organized group, but it's good to have the support of a group of writers facing the same obstacles and challenges that I am. Thank you, Deadpixel Publications.
My Facebook fans. Sometimes the words just fly out of my mind and onto the page. Most of the time, however, it's hard. I can sit in front of a blank screen for an hour before eventually squeezing out a little chunk of word-poop. Writing words that people want to pay money for is hard, exhausting work. Every time you like or comment on one of my Facebook posts, you encourage me to keep squeezing. You remind me that there is a small but growing army of you out there just waiting for another chance to throw money at me. Every time you share a post, you invite others to join the party. Thank you, Facebook fans.
Those of you who have reviewed my books. Good reviews sell books. Even bad reviews from stupid people sell books... and give me material for one of my most popular blog posts. Thank you, reviewers.
The rest of you readers and listeners. I know not everyone has the time or inclination to write a review or like my Facebook page. And that's okay. You are the ones who have made today's announcement possible. Thank you, readers and listeners.
My kids, Meghan and Jack. From the mentions I've made of them earlier in this post, you might think my kids are little pains in my ass who distract me from my writing. And you'd be right. But they're so much more than that. They're weird and awesome and expensive. As such, they are my primary motivation to put out new titles as quickly as I can. Without Meg and Jack, I'd be writing at a much more relaxed pace. For myself, I'm pretty content to live out the rest of my days with meat and beer. But I want more than just meat and beer for my kids. I want to be able to provide them with awesome opportunities, and for that, I feel compelled to write like a motherfucker. Thank you, Meg & Jack.