For the past few years, I've been really struggling. I don't know if it's technically depression or just an extended series of events for which it was entirely reasonable that I might be depressed (e.g. close friend died while we were together, a child was diagnosed with a serious illness, that other guy got elected, the pandemic happened, etc., etc.)
While I was on my professional improvement leave, which should have been a bright spot, my Department chair decided to unilaterally rewrite my job description without consulting me. I could go on at length about how poorly it was handled and how it violated a long-standing agreement with the union. But it happened.
In any event, I've been down in the dumps for a few years. It made it hard to find joy in anything -- or do anything creative.
Last fall, though, I finally started to perk up. I had an idea for a story I wanted to write. I basically hadn't completed any speculative fiction since I wrote Krepusko sub Fago in 2015. So I wrote the story I was thinking of and submitted it for publication. And it was rejected. But by then, I had already started to work on another story, or perhaps chapter, about the same characters. And I wrote another and another and another. And suddenly, I realized, I was having fun. It felt good.
During the summer, I decided to approach submitting my fiction seriously -- or, at least, more professionally. So I set up a spreadsheet to track submissions, studied Ralan.com, and tried to get all my stories working for me while I continued to write new stuff. I wrote several more stories at the same time I got out some older stories I'd written before that I've never gotten around to submitting and got those working too.
Everything got rejected. And rejected and rejected. And rejected some more.
But in August, I attended Readercon and met up with Water Dragon Publishing, and the rest is history. My first English speculative fiction publication is out: The Third Time's the Charm!
During the semester, I haven't had much time to write. But I did find the time to write the first draft of a sequel to my first story. It was a lot of fun to revisit those characters and think about what happens next.
I still haven't published the stories (totaling about 22,000 words) that first got me started in this direction. But I'm hopeful that soon I'll hit my stride and start getting more stuff published. And hopeful is the word. It's wonderful to have hope again -- and to feel like things could get better.
- Steven D. Brewer's blog
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