So sometimes I’m reminded of my smallness as a person, and specifically as an author person. Generally the thing that reminds me of this is the book Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett. It’s one of my favourite books, certainly my favourite of the Discworld series, and that’s saying something. The thing is, though, it’s just so excellent that on a certain level it depresses me, because for a moment it makes me go, “My stuff is rubbish, nothing I’ve written even comes close to this”.
But only for a moment. You see, I’m naturally an optimistic person. It’s not something I can change about myself, I just have to live with it. My instinct is always to look for (and to expect) good things, whether in people or in books or in life itself. This, of course, leads to a lot of disappointment, and is part of the reason I think of myself as not just an optimist, but as a cynical optimist. I naturally WANT to be idealistic but know that what’s ‘ideal’ is rarely realistic. This is also why I’m so passionate about the things that I DO love, because they’re so special. We live in a world of mediocrity, and that which rises above ‘average’ is, oh, just marvellous really.
So anyway, the reason why I’m never depressed for long is because Terry Pratchett wrote like thirty books before he got to Night Watch. And before he even wrote his first novel he was a journalist, and I’m betting he was a damned good one too–not because of his writing ability, but because of his clear and burning love of Truth. Of course I’m not saying Terry’s earlier books were rubbish because obviously they’re great, and a lot of them come close to approaching the high mark that Night Watch set–I mean, honestly, I’m not as good as Terry Pratchett and I doubt I ever will be. It’s just as well this isn’t a competition or I’d give up here and now. I think I need a new paragraph to properly collect my thoughts.
Here’s the thing. I’m just starting out, as a writer. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been writing or how technically competent I judge myself to be, I know I’m still right near the beginning of things. In a sense, this is Year One. And I’m not even talking about sales or that manner of ‘success’, because honestly that doesn’t matter to me (really and truly, if it wasn’t for other people prodding me I wouldn’t be doing any of this publishing malarkey). What I’m talking about is how I think of myself and where I am regarding what I write. In ten years time, when I’ve written and published forty books, this period is what I’ll look back on as my starting point. Not quite there yet, but, y’know, every day a little closer. The final stages of my apprenticeship, and the first tentative steps into my journeyman years.