Thank you for being a storyteller. Not many people actually follow their passions and dreams to create art, literature etc... Not everyone believes in themselves enough to put their creativity out there for the world to experience, otherwise we would have so many more poets, novelists, painters, filmmakers etc... The path you lead is inspirational to others, including myself.
So, firstly, thank you Mr. Benoit for taking the time to write me. It's not often I get emails of this nature. It's rarer still that I'm thanked for doing what I do. It makes a refreshing change from all the blog posts about how writers are literally the worst.
There's actually a lot to talk about here.
It is true. Not many people follow their passions. Fear might be a part of it. Pragmatism might be a larger part of it. Had I been a different person in a different position, I might never have started this writing thing. I am very fortunate in that I have a full time job. While it doesn't pay all that much, it's enough to feed and clothe me, put a roof over my head and have a little extra for fighting the fight - for buying stocks of books, tables at conventions, etc.
If I didn't have a job that permitted me a lot of spare time, with reasonable hours, and awesome co-workers, I'm not sure I could be doing anything that I currently am. I am astonished at the writers/other artists who do what they do without all the short-cuts I've been lucky to receive. If I wasn't someone who dreams far too much, and who didn't have the incredible support I do, I probably wouldn't try to do what I do. I wouldn't be able to afford it, for starters. If I was working multiple jobs to keep myself from drowning, I wouldn't have the energy or time for writing. My privilege permits me to do what I do, and there are people who manage it who don't have what I have.
So, to those people, thank you for being a storyteller. Your voices are needed, and I am humbled by you stretching yourself beyond what I am capable of to do what you do.
Of course, there are plenty of people whose passions are not career related - those brave souls who stand up to oppression, the water protectors at Standing Rock, who are passionately defending the land, animal rescuers, LARPers, etc. There are a lot of people who follow their passions, but those aren't career related. Not everyone is suited to a life in or passionate about the arts, and that's okay!
Belief in myself is also a factor, it's true. Though, for me at least, it is less a belief in myself than it is a belief in my stories. My writing is both intensely personal and quite detached from myself. I often describe it as having the ghost of the protagonist of the story come to me and tell me their stories.
Usually it's how they died.
I'm a pretty empathetic person, so while writing the stories, I go through emotional hell. Every pain they feel, I feel. I've had nightmares, crying fits, and protracted periods of instability because of what I'm writing. It's weird... okay, it's insane... but that's the way it is for me.
There is no way I would put myself through that if I didn't think it was worth it. And what makes it worth it are the stories themselves. They speak to me in a deep way.
In The Seraphimé Saga, for example, I was moved by the heroine's struggle, by her determination and her willingness to self-sacrifice. It was the love she had for her home and her people that compelled her to do what she did. I think that is beautiful and brave.
The novel Human isn't just a vampire story. It's about grief and duty and, of course, love.
My unpublished historical fiction Daughters of Britain is a story about a young Briton who has faced awful things. She learnt to hate Rome, and by extension, Romans and any Roman allies. But she learns that not all of them are evil. She learns to forgive, and even love, without giving up the fight for her home and her people. I heart this story muchly.
In my (also unpublished) science fiction, Skylark, the hero of the story faces a choice - follow orders and watch the world burn, or rebel and do what is right. What is right is rarely what is easy. The cost is dear indeed (and so it is for him, the poor bastard), which is why so few people seem willing to do it.
I believe in these stories with everything I have. As to my ability to write them well, that is up for debate, though I've gotten a lot of positive feedback thus far.
Just not from publishers.
*runs to a corner and sobs*
So while I think I can write, it's what I write that drives me so hard. I don't really feel like the originator of these stories. I'm merely the conduit.
That sounds really dumb. Sorry.
And lastly, I'm so glad that anyone would take inspiration from me at all. I can hardly be considered a success. Outside of my sphere of friends, practically no one knows my stories. People aren't talking about my work widely, I don't make any money from sales outside of conventions, and if my name is ever mentioned, pretty much everyone will ask "who?"
But this is always the way of it if someone is starting out. People often only ever see the successes and call it an over-night phenomena. While such successes do occasionally happen, most of the time, those "over-night successes" are preceded by years and years of hard, unnoticed and unrewarded work.
And I'm willing to do that work.
I could not imagine that anyone would find inspiration from what I do. I often feel like I'm a complete failure. There are extended periods of frustration and sadness and moments when I entertain the idea of quitting. I'm a extremely humbled and flattered that anyone finds that inspirational. If I can serve as any kind of example for anyone, then I must be doing something right, and that makes me very, very happy.
Even if I never reach any kind of great success with my writing, I will always have this email to refer to. I can take great pride in this completely unexpected aspect of my work.
So thanks, Mr. Benoit. I am genuinely tickled pink by your email.
And now I must go work.