Linda Nagata: April 2013 Archives

While wandering around the Internet I discovered an archived story from National Public Radio in the US called "Does Age Quash Our Spirit of Adventure?" The reporter referenced psychology professor Dean Keith Simonton of UC Davis, citing his idea that those who are "eminent"—defined as those who had been quite successful early in life—tended to be locked into the patterns of early life, while those who are, ahem, "late bloomers" tend to remain more open to new ideas in middle age.

This sounded like pop psychology to me, but interesting enough to send me scurrying around the Internet looking for more. I couldn't find any other mention of Professor Simonton's theory of eminence and a decline in creativity, but I did go on to read several articles on creativity and novelty-seeking in middle age.

When I was growing up, "middle aged" was a synonym for "boring." Looking ahead across the gulf of years it appeared to me to be a time of life inhabited by people content with a dull routine, with little interest in the new.

Having reached the respectable middle age of fifty-two, I'm happy to report the reality I've experienced is quite a bit different from that.

Aloha again, everyone. While Charlie's off on vacation in the tropics, I thought I'd talk a little about my own near-tropical home of Hawaii, looking at it from a writer's point of view. I've lived in Hawaii since I was ten years old and, while I can safely say it's no utopia, overall, things are pretty decent here and as a general rule, people are helpful and friendly. We've been designated the happiest state in the USA for the fourth year running, for good reason.

But is Hawaii a good place to grow a science fiction career? The lack of working SFF novelists here seems to indicate otherwise. The two that I know of are myself and Kate Elliott, and we're on different islands.

Another negative indicator—as much as I hate to say it—is that there isn't a big fan base here, especially for the kind of extrapolative SF I like best. When was the last time you attended a science fiction convention in Hawaii, right? (For those interested, there is a big and growing anime convention called Kawaii-kon... but that isn't quite what I'm talking about.)

So Hawaii lacks SFF writers as well as active fans, and traveling anywhere else to meet them requires at minimum a five-hour plane flight, because we are a long way from anywhere. Professionally then, it's an isolated existence. Still, there are advantages to living here. Metaphorically speaking, Hawaii has a multitude of worlds.

Aloha, everyone. When Charlie gave me this opportunity to guest-blog, I asked him if it'd be okay if I did a counter-post to his March 21 entry Why I Don't Self-Publish. Charlie readily agreed.

First, it feels necessary to say that there is no best path in this business of writing fiction and every author's career is different. I started in the usual way, with traditional publishing, and had six science fiction novels published by New York houses between '95 and 2003. My work garnered good reviews and there were a couple of awards, but despite my best efforts no meaningful amount of money was going into the family coffers. Economically, I was wasting my time. Emotionally I was inhabited by a deep, dark sense of failure, with no viable means to turn things around. So circa 2000 I more or less walked away from the field for almost ten years. I did not stop writing entirely, but it was close.

In 2009 I woke up to the ebook revolution.

My background and situation let me jump right into self-publishing. I'd worked in web development for nine years, so I knew how to handle the HTML behind ebooks, I was familiar with Photoshop, I'd learned the basics of InDesign, I had the rights back to all my novels, and I had time to devote, since the recession had ended my programming job. So I became my own publisher and reissued the novels, first as ebooks and then in print-on-demand editions.

I found that I loved this new business, because I was in control.



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This page is an archive of recent entries written by Linda Nagata in April 2013.

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