December 12 Is My First Ever Author Reading
Read this post anyway
I have ADHD, and recently I listened to the same song over and over. Some with ADHD do that because the familiarity allows the blocking of extraneous “noise” so we can focus on tasks. I do it because when I find a new source of dopamine, I want to wring all possible pleasure from it.
I’ll come back to the song. I want to talk about getting old.
I was almost 52 when I switched to writing sweary history. Now I’m 55, have published two books in that genre, and am working on a third. There are plans for many more to come after that. And yet, I sometimes fear I missed my window, that I began too late.
It seems so many artists hit their creative peak young, then their talent fades. We don’t want to hear the new songs our favorite musician wrote. Play us the oldies. The first two series that author wrote were amazing, but the magic is gone from their writing now, so I’ll just reread my favorites.
A while ago I had a conversation with my friend Rob Sawyer, a Hugo-Award Winning science writer author who just published his 25thbook (and Brendan Fraser did the audio). We were discussing my worries over having missed a creative peak. He said that unless age has actually ravaged your mental capacity, in his experience there is minimal creative loss with age. Rather, it’s about a decision one makes to remain passionate to the project, to throw as much into your new work as you did the stuff that was celebrated years or even decades earlier, that makes the difference. Some people hit it big early, then start phoning it in, riding the wave of success. Others try to outdo their earlier efforts.
I thought of Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, which I loved, and the first book in it was published when he was 61. Ken is 74 and still writing great books. Stephen King published Billy Summers when he was 74 and that’s a wonderful book.
I think my Sh!t Went Down books worked out because it was the first time ever that I wrote exactly what I wanted, the way I wanted. I was driven when I wrote those books rather than writing something I imagined the publishing industry wanted. My wife sets her alarm for 7am, but sometimes I’d wake up at 4:30 and think, I could get a lot of writing done. And I would get up and make coffee and write two new stories before she was even awake. That had never happened before with my work.
Now, I’m on to something new. A much bigger project. It won’t be 366 short history stories. It will be one long story. I’ve written a little of it, but mostly I’m focused on research, seeking answers about the history of the world where I haven’t even quite figured out the right questions yet. I expect the first draft to be complete late next year. It is the most ambitious project I’ve yet untaken. It’s the kind of thing that fills me with anxiety, wondering if I can pull it off, and needing to do the work to discover if the ability lies within me.
I have written a little of an introduction of this new book, just to set the tone, but I’m not going to share it here. Rather, I am going to read it aloud to a small group of people on December 12.
On December 12, at 7pm, I will be at Owl’s Nest Books in Calgary. They are located at 815 – 49th Ave SW. Mark your calendar and show up if you can.
I’ve never done a reading before. I’ll likely read one story from On This Day in History Sh!t Went Down, but I also want to read an opener of this new book that no one has yet seen. There will also be a Q & A, and of course plenty of books will be on hand for me to sign and personalize.
So, what was the song? Last week, after being a fan for three decades, I finally got to see Loreena McKennitt in concert. We were in the middle of the second row, and I was mesmerized. She played songs I’d not heard before. I didn’t realize she’d released another album in 2018 titled Lost Souls.
When she was 61.
There is a song titled “A Hundred Wishes” on the album and it is now in my top three of her songs.
When you’re 55 and just starting a new creative path, seeing older folks reach into untapped depths of their imagination and bring joy to others with their new work is both inspiring and motivating. I think of how I’ve only written four books, and that there are probably another twenty or so that await.
One at a time though. If you want signed copies of the current one for Christmas and you’re not able to come to the reading, the time to order from Owl’s Nest is now. They only have 21 left in stock and won’t be getting more until just before the event. Go to this link to order signed copies: https://www.owlsnestbooks.com/item/ZoOPMvNQhqY8pT1INoX84Q
And if you don’t want signed, you can just wander into a bookstore or order via JamesFell.com/books.