This is that horrible, drawn-out, awkward thing called the “first post.” This is where I introduce myself and lay the foundations for all the happy little posts that will come after, and generally set the tone for the entire blog.
So let’s do some tone-settin’, grasshopper.
First, I’d like to point out that, unlike 99.99% of the stuff I write, this blog post isn’t off the cuff. I’m pretty much copying the structure suggested on this webpage, and in the same order too, mostly. The first thing I need to do, according to shoutmeloud.com, is tell you about myself.
This isn’t my first blog. I kept a blog called the Sententious Vaunter for six years (stupid name, I know; but it was my first blog, ‘kay?). You can check it out if you want to know more about me: the places I’ve traveled, the things I’ve done and seen, the stuff I write, my hobbies.
In case you can’t be bothered to follow a suspicious link, I’ll give you a quick summary: I blogged about living in South Korea (see below), about my writing, about flying, about mixing cocktails, and occasionally about my favorite movies (Hatari!, Yojimbo, John Carpenter’s The Thing and Escape from New York) and music (Jethro Tull, The Who, Pink Floyd).
And now, my full bio:
I was born in 1986. I’ve lived all over: California, Wyoming, North Dakota, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada. I graduated from college in 2007 with a degree in—get this—Journalism, Broadcasting, and Mass Communication Technology. I ended up with only $12,500 in student debt, because I have awesome parents who put up half my college tuition. I just paid off my student debt last month, hooray hooray.
As a kid, I was assured time and again by every adult I met that a college degree would guarantee me a good job. I started out in the biology program at North Dakota State University, but organic chemistry defeated me, and I switched into journalism. I figured if I couldn’t study animals for a living, I’d write about them, and anything else that interested me. I’ve always been a good writer. I could write and read at a university level when I was in 5th grade. I was the cool kid who stayed home and read the encyclopedia and the dictionary and Audubon bird guides and big thick history books while my classmates were out partying.
I graduated in December of 2007, and in 2008, the big crash happened. Print journalism was already a dying industry by the time I left school, and the crash didn’t improve matters. I spent six months living in my parents’ basement in Wyoming, half-heartedly searching for reporting jobs nationwide, before I finally got sick of waiting and took a job teaching English in South Korea. I spent a year on an island called Geoje, way down south of Busan. It was one of the best years of my life. I came back to the States, moved back in with my parents (who were then living in the Mojave Desert of Southern California), and blew the $12,000 that I’d saved in Korea on a pilot’s license. Then I went back to Korea for three years, this time with a girlfriend (who soon became my fiancée). I had another glorious time in Korea, made more lifelong friends, ate delicious food, and traveled to China and Japan and Vietnam and Cambodia and Thailand and Malaysia and Singapore and Hong Kong. In early 2015, my fiancée and I moved to Las Vegas and we lived there a year. She had massive student debt and poured every penny of her three-job income into repaying her loans. The only job I could find was a content mill that paid me $12 an hour. We lived in an apartment (which my fiancée chose) that cost $900 a month. Before the year was out, all my savings from Korea had evaporated, and I had racked up $12,000 in credit card debt besides. Finally I called it quits. I rented a U-Haul van, packed up all my junk, and drove from Las Vegas to Sacramento, moving back in with my parents for the second time.
It was no picnic to be 30 years old, broke, and living with my folks again, even though they were incredibly sweet and understanding about the whole thing. I came unnervingly close to killing myself (no joke). I beat back my suicidal feelings by taking up a new hobby: philosophy. I got seriously into Stoicism. I read Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations when I lived in Las Vegas, then Epictetus’s Enchiridion and Seneca’s Moral Letters while I was living with my parents in Fair Oaks. Three neck-bearded old guys—two Romans and one Greek—saved my life. Thanks, dudes.
And then…something wonderful happened. Or rather, a succession of wonderful things happened. I met someone on Match.com. We chatted online. Then we talked on the phone. Then we met, at last, in Roseville, where I was working at the time. We hit it off. I got fired from my job in Roseville (that was wonderful, believe me). I started looking for jobs in Lodi, where she lived. I got a job at Target, where she worked. I moved in with her. I worked at Target for a few months, and moonlighted as as banquet bartender at a golf course in Stockton on weekends. She and I got engaged in October. Then, in December of 2016, I got a good job, one that paid well and had benefits and all the things I’d never had. We got married in May of 2017, in my parents’ backyard in Fair Oaks. We honeymooned in the Seychelles a month later. We’re planning on moving to Japan in May of 2018, where we’ll teach.
All this time, I’ve been writing: short stories, novels, novelettes, novellas. Mostly science fiction, though there’s been a smattering of mainstream fic in there. Oh, and I published a novel on the Amazon Kindle in September 2015. It’s called Mugunghwa: The Wreck of the Rose of Sharon. It’s historical fiction and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written. I wrote it for NaNoWriMo in 2012, while living in Korea with my ex-fiancée. I haven’t published anything else. Since I started keeping serious track of my submissions in 2012, I have submitted no fewer than 83 stories of various lengths to major and minor sci-fi publishers and magazines, and not a single one has been accepted. Disheartening, but I’ll be danged if I’m going to give up. I’m a Stoic, remember? And I was born to write.
What are my goals? I’ve got a few. The first is to be a successful writer. I know the term “successful” is highly subjective, but I mean exactly what you’re probably thinking right now: six- and seven-figure advances, book signings, movie rights, Hugo and Nebula Awards, crowds of screaming fans, fanfiction out the wazoo, and my name added to the pantheon of great science fiction authors.
Okay, none of that has to happen. I just want someone like me, a young teenage escapist, to pluck one of my books off a shelf and spend an afternoon being swept away by an amazing story. That’s what made me fall in love with science fiction when I was a kid: its unearthly power to capture the imagination and take it for a wild ride through the realm of the fantastic (and semi-plausible). It’s what my favorite sci-fi writers (H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, A.E. van Vogt, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Sprague de Camp, Ray Bradbury, and a dozen others) did for me when I really needed it. I want to do the same. I want to present the world with a handmade gift: a rollicking good story.
But I don’t just write fiction. I love writing about travel, science, history, culture, and a lot of other things. So I’m launching a career as a freelance writer. My intention is to forge a working relationship with a couple of magazines (or just one magazine that pays me to write a weekly column) and write until I die.
My other two ambitions have nothing to do with writing…and at the same time, they have everything to do with it.
First, I would like to travel to every country in the world. I think I’ve got 17 or 18 knocked off the list already.
Traveling and flying, by virtue of their adventurousness and uniqueness, will give me plenty of incidental writing fodder. So I’ve always seen my life goals as being interrelated, three parts of a whole: travel, fly, and write. They mesh in more ways than you’d imagine.
What else is there to say? I have a private pilot’s license, but haven’t flown in years thanks to the crippling debt I racked up in Vegas (which I’m still paying down). I mix a mean Moscow mule. I hate all the remakes and reboots of popular movies Hollywood is doing. I’m told that I’m something of a curmudgeon, that I have a wry and off-the-wall sense of humor, that I have a way of explaining things that makes them interesting and fun, and that I have terrible fashion sense (who says cargo pants are passé?). I smoke a pipe: nine of them, actually. I’m a collector.
I’m writing this blog for two reasons: (1) to actively maintain a professional presence on the web so that agents, potential employers, clients, and (eventually) hordes of adoring fans can find me; and (2) so other struggling, currently non-famous sci-fi writers and fans out there can read my blog and know they’re not alone in their struggle for that elusive, subjective, abstract noun, “success.” And because it’s fun. Criminy, I’d forgotten how fun it was. When I started this post, I was all like ohmigod this is so scary I haven’t blogged since December 2015 what am I doing this is insaaaaaaaaaaaane and now I’m all like Psssshhhh why did I ever stop blogging this is tons o’ fun I feel like I just pounded a glass of Bulleit rye freakin’ AWESOMENESS.
I’ve promised myself that I’m going to update this blog frequently: at least twice a week. Most posts won’t be nearly as long as this one. I’m going to blog about the progress of my career, chiefly. After six fruitless years, I’m getting a bit fed up with the traditional publishing process (agents, editors, endless weeks and months of waiting, etc.). So I’ve been mulling over a rather unconventional strategy: self-publishing. If I decide to pursue that route—and it’s looking pretty likely—I’ll blog about it, start-to-finish, and tell you what worked and what didn’t.
The form this blog will take is what Jane Friedman calls the “behind-the-scenes” model of author blogs. To wit:
You write about the research, people, news stories, or current events that play a role in the construction of your books or other work. You might also develop competitions and events that focus on reader engagement, such as having readers name your novel’s characters, choose the best cover, etc. Presumably, readers will enjoy knowing more about the context and ideas that affect your writing and being involved in your future work.
I used to play my cards pretty close to my chest, never letting anyone see my drafts or hear anything about my plots or my characters until they were fully developed and the manuscript was perfect. Now that I’m older and wiser, a recovering perfectionist, I’ve realized my mistake. I involve other people heavily in my work now. My list of beta readers is as long as my arm, and I constantly ask others for advice and suggestions for improving my fiction. I also love talking about stuff that influences my work, and if I manage to give my readers inspiration in the process, well…I’ll feel all warm and fuzzy and fulfilled. I have very, very esoteric tastes in books and movies, and I write very offbeat stories, or so I’m told. Expect posts about comics, movies, and books (fiction and nonfiction) that influence my stories or stir my imagination; posts about sci-fi writers whom I admire (and beware, almost none of them are contemporary); news stories that send me scurrying to my typewriter, especially science news (and the cultural implications thereof); and other random bits of esoteric extemporanea that relate to my writings.
Who am I writing for? You. Whoever’s reading this right now. Whoever was interested enough to click on a link and follow it to this page. Whether you’re an agent looking for sci-fi novelists to represent, another writer who’d like to get an idea of my research and writing process, or just a sci-fi/history nut like me, welcome. This blog’s for you. Email me, message me on social media, or leave a comment below. Ask me anything. I’ll be here, hovering over the keyboard, fingers at the ready. If there’s anything I love more than whiskey, pipe tobacco, Cessna aircraft, world travel, John Carpenter, Isaac Asimov, H.G. Wells, Akira Kurosawa, or Schwinn bicycles, it’s helping people and answering questions.
Andrew Timothy Post, signing off.