Thursday, 19 March 2015

The way forward

I've been extremely fortunate again - yesterday, I received an offer from the investment bank I was interviewing with and I've taken it quite happily and proudly. It took three rounds of interviews to get there - this was literally the most attractive job I've come across in four years (and four years ago, I landed my favourite job in my whole career), and I clicked with the culture and people working there.

I've recently done quite a bit of work around my "values" (the stuff that's driving us), and found a company that aligns with those. I like efficient, focused places - in fact, I need those to do my best. Very few companies are focused like investment banks. I'm also quite interested in the capital markets - business, the flow of money, company research, stocks, the big economic picture - and it'll be good to go back to all that.

And some of that research has made it into books - both Gold Digger and Return on Investment were cut from the real-life financial shenanigans going on.

I've already received some worried messages about what that'll mean for my writing. At the moment, it's hard to say. I was productive in that other investment bank (writing in the ebbs of the workflow), but it seems this place is too efficient for that - the workload seems to be significantly larger, and I'll have more responsibility actually managing projects.

The hours are VERY early (I'm a night owl, so I'll need to re-train my brain and try to get sleep when the opportunity arises), but they aren't outrageously long. So there will be time to write.

I had a fairly ambitious plan of writing five novels a year. That won't be happening now. I have some fragments I want to finish up this year (Suckerpunch, Dark Heart, and a couple co-writes), but I've been drifting away from gay romance and erotic romance. I don't write the books that sell huge numbers, don't write the kind of plot people are very interested in, and all that means that I don't make enough money to live off writing.

So, for the moment at least, I'll consider writing strictly a hobby. No deadlines, no "I should do this", no expected minimum income, no production plan. I've considered taking a year out and focus entirely on other stuff (like a martial art, or switching to a different medium like sculpting or painting) to refresh the Muse. I might still do that.

I want to finish Suckerpunch and Dark Heart because I promised those and people are waiting. Mostly, though, I want to finish my WWII cycle - essentially more books in the vein of the Bird Book. The nice thing is that the bank job means I can afford to write books like that. It'll be a huge relief to not have to plan my release schedule or genres according to what sells and might allow me to pay the mortgage. It also means if a book needs a year or two, I have that time while I'm employed.

Basically, I can now afford to not care if anything sells. I'll just put them out there and write the next one. If they make money, great, if not, at least I wrote them and hopefully evolved as a writer.

Those books will still likely have a love element, but I don't feel I'm a writer who delivers the typical (lucrative) romance plot very well, so I'll stop trying. If it happens, great, but I won't focus on Romance by any means. I'll focus instead on stuff I'm good at and to create more balance in my life, which has been out of whack - working too hard and too much and being totally focussed on just one thing will do that.

I want to learn new things, maybe write some non-fiction, write the books that keep me up at night and not the books I *should* be writing or the books that "sell". More historicals, fantasy, sci-fi, maybe horror. I might even write "straight" books under a different name, just to see if my skills are still sharp and because I have a Templar bunny that wants out.

I'll be attending the European conferences in Bristol and Munich, but I don't foresee travelling much beyond that for writing-related things - I have limited holidays and it would be nice to spend some of that time with my very patient partner.

So, it's a major shift, really. It's not a retirement - obviously not - but while I can afford to do so, I'll write the weird and wonderful books I've pushed aside for too long, at a speed that suits them and me. I've had a good run so far, but it's time to switch direction and focus on other things. I want to grow as a writer and person - and leaving the little comfortable corner I've made for myself will achieve that.

For me, that's the way forward and I've shied away from that for too long - I like my comfort zones, too. But I'm sure I can trust the Muse and there will be wonderful books in the future - whatever their genre.


  1. You could rewrite the telephone book & we would buy it ... and read it! Taking care of you should always be your first priority ... taking care of patient partner second ... taking care of your new job ... taking care of your mental & physical health ... then ... when time ... your Muse ... your desire comes ... put pen to paper. Just make sure we all know when you've released it to the world! I'm so happy to hear how thrilled you are to be back in the 'game'. New job ... new ideas ... new discoveries ... new advetures! Explore all of the things you are considering ... keep finding new ones ... they will enhance your life & writing. So grateful to see your joy! Admiration from Alaska

    1. I'd be too bored re-writing the phone book. :) But yeah, I've shifted my priorities towards more balance and now I just need to implement that. I'll use my newsletter and the usual channel to announce the books, so they won't be stealth releases. I just don't foresee doing massive blog tours unless a publisher makes me. :)

      Thank you!

  2. Lol at the telephone book comment, but the idea has merit!

    I'll be glad to see Suckerpunch and Dark Heart both, but I think you've made the right decision to officially consider your writing a hobby going forward. Writing toward a deadline tends to suck the fun out of it anyway. :D

    Good luck with the new job!

    1. It does! It also means suppressing the "cool" idea for the "safe" one and I'm very done with that. I don't regret writing ANY of my books - I just need to focus on the cool stuff that makes me excited about writing. I do believe those are the better books anyway. :)

  3. I wish you every success and happiness, Alek!

  4. I'm very pleased for you.
    This could be so wonderfully liberating for you, not feeling under pressure to write for money, to produce words and produce stuff that might sell. Yes write what you want and experiment. You will certainly have readers what ever you publish. If you tell your fans here and on FB.

    Yes, I associate you with gay romance book and there are many other authors who also write good/ great books in that genre with lovely characters
    but I when I think of the books written and co-written by you there are two things that stand out and set you apart from almost all others. Consistently:
    *amazing story
    *brilliant use of language.
    You are clearly someone who has high standards and I'm sure any book you write will be compelling.
    And I'm sure most readers who read your books do not only read M/M romance.
    It may well be that away from that genre you actually write your best seller that gets made into a film and has a lucrative merchandise franchise!
    I'm pleased you will keep on writing.

  5. Thank you! It'll keep things fresh and interesting. And of course I'll use Twitter, FB, my blog and newsletter to keep people updated.

    And, yeah, the way publishing works, we associate certain author names with certain things (we don't buy a Grisham for his lovely kid's poems) - which can be frustrating for a writer who has ideas and bunnies way outside that "brand". In my case, the common factor has been a gay or bisexual protagonist and more often than not explicit sex and very often a love plot of some description. I've written romances that fit the formula, too. But I need freedom from the expectation that the "gay romance" genre is trying to impose on me - every time a reader emails me to ask all frantically "WILL THEY CHEAT? WILL THEY CHEAT LIKE DAN AND VADIM?!", my Muse dies a little inside. I'm not interested in the formula or the "cheating/no cheating" BS. I'm writing about real people and they rarely fit into the stereotypical romance. And a good amount of my ideas have been non-romantic - so I'm taking the time now to write those. I've always been an awkward fit in the "gay romance" genre, but I tried to fit in and now I stop trying.

    And, yeah, thankfully most of my readers seem to be quite eclectic in their interests, so that's a definitive plus going forward.

    And, on a personal level, I've reached all my writing-related goals already. It's time to set new ones - which I've done and realised they're leading me in this direction.

  6. Good luck to you, as I prefer quality over quantity and happily still read several genres, I look forward to reading your books, whatever they may be about.

  7. I will look forward to whatever you and the muse write next Alex. I hope the job is exciting and challenging and happy for you with space in the corners for writing. Your voice will be missed by your readers. I've also enjoyed the way you share your writing and research process with us too. I wish you and the dude all the best

  8. I have a broad grin on my face right now because reading this makes me feel so happy for you!
    Ich hoffe, dass der Job dir Spaß macht und dich erfüllt!

    That sounds all pretty amazing.
    Not least because like the works that you put under 'not very profitable' the best.
    And yeah, do go away from the M/M genre and write your bestseller that gets made into a movie, like Helen said. I love that idea. Or write it in the M/M genre. Who cares about genres anyway?
    I think a good story takes you on a journey. And that journey can lead you to places and situations where you'd never imagined yourself AND makes you feel them, understand them through the eyes of a fictional character. And because your writing always gets me in some way, always picks me up, I'll probably follow you anywhere.
    I love that you feel your new job will give you the freedom to go there!

    But most importantly: Stay safe and healthy. Rock that job. Reach your personal goals. Spend time with your patient partner!
    And when you find the time, write. Papier ist geduldig ;)

    And if writing is strictly hobby (for now), I can tell you (and I think everyone here would agree with me) that you rule your hobby like a boss ^^