Monday, December 27, 2010

I Remember It Well . . .

It was 34 years ago today I opened the mailbox at my parents’ house and took out a check for my first professional fiction sale. I’ve written about that day and the story involved here, so as usual I won’t repeat all the details. I can’t let the occasion pass without at least mentioning it, though, and I can’t help but think about all the changes that have occurred since then. That story was written on a manual typewriter, stuck in an envelope, taken to the post office, and mailed. The check for it, also filled out on a typewriter, came back to me in the mail. Nothing digital involved anywhere in the process. On a personal level, I was not only 34 years younger, I was 60 or 70 pounds lighter, my eyesight was better (not good, just better), and I didn’t have to say “Huh?” a dozen times whenever somebody tried to talk to me. I didn’t have a beard, but I had more hair on top of my head than I do now. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I had a full head of hair, though. I was born balding, and I stayed that way. I was already married, but we didn’t have any children. That was still almost eight years away. I was working for my dad and had no idea what the life of a full-time freelance writer was really like. All I knew was that I wanted it.


So, 34 years later, after being a writer for more than half my life, has it been worth it? From a financial standpoint, almost certainly I could have made more money doing something else, and my family definitely suffered during some of the really lean times. But although it seems like I’ve been chained to the keyboard for years, I know that’s not really the case. The freedom writing has given me allowed me to be very much involved with the lives of my kids as they grew up, and I’m a lot more proud of the way they’ve turned out than I am of anything I’ve written. Writing was a means to that end, though. It’s also enabled me to be around to help out when other family members needed me, as they’ve helped me countless times. From a creative standpoint, I’ve always been a storyteller, and I’ve been able to spin lots and lots of what I hope are good yarns. They haven’t always been the stories I might have told if things had worked out differently, but I’ve always found something worthwhile to tell in all of them. And when I think about the millions of times over the past 34 years that someone has sat down, read something I wrote, and enjoyed it, well, you just can’t beat that feeling.


Worth it? In the words of the TV commercials, it’s been priceless.

14 comments:

Bill Crider said...

Congratulations on the anniversary, and I know there'll be many more of them. And many more books and stories, too.

David Cranmer said...

This is a very inspiring post, James. And a big congrats on the anniversary.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Nice to hear this, James.

Matthew P. Mayo said...

Congratulations on your longevity in the field! I find your career inspiring and your books entertaining. Here's to many more years and many more books....

Mark Terry said...

Congratulations! I've been a full-time freelancer for 6 years--mostly nonfiction, although I've published a number of novels in that period as well--and I can say that it's allowed me to be far more involved in my kids' lives as well, which is one of the biggest perks there is.

Randy Johnson said...

Let me add my congrats as well. I've enjoyed many of your books, once I learned about them(thank God for the internet) and hope to see many more.

Anonymous said...

Great story, James. And congratulations on still going strong. You and Bill and a few other old-timers (sorry, guys) have given us geezers a lot of pleasure over the years.

Jeff M.

Tom Roberts said...

James,

A personal milestone shared with your expected storytelling excellence.

Here's hoping for many more such anniversaries.

Tom Roberts

Charles Gramlich said...

Great memories, and as REH observed so long ago, "there's freedom in the game." Congrats on pulling it off.

Jerry House said...

It would have been a much grayer world if you had not become an author, James. Congratulations!

Richard R. said...

I went back and read the original story, along with this post, and enjoyed them both immensely. I have finally gotten some James Reasoner fiction on my shelves, um, make that in some box somewhere here, and am eager to get reading on it!

Congratulations on your anniversary, and I echo Bill Crider's sentiments.

Chris said...

Thanks for weathering the lean years for us, James! We've been the beneficiaries as well.

David Jack Bell said...

A great post--inspiring!

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

What a great post-Christmas present that check was, eh? I'm glad it inspired you to keep going. Not only have you and your family benefitted from your career, but so have a horde of happy readers. Keep up the good work.

WV: Facula--A vampire with a set of encyclopedias.