After the Dick, what next?

I wrote here last year about how I felt tired with writing hard and not getting much response, and the need to recharge after twenty-five years in the business:

All this work, all those fantastic reviews, and yet still I seem to be the kind of writer very much admired by a smallish number but unknown to most; I’ve published regularly, but have rarely had a regular publisher for more than a few years; I’ve had at least one pretty big bestseller, but that was nearly ten years ago now; I think I have a reputation as someone who works away and achieves a lot; and I think my last four novels are among the best things I’ve written.

Is that enough?

I don’t know. It’s not that I’m craving awards and media attention (although it’d be nice not to feel that each book is published into a vacuum), but I really do wonder if all the personal sacrifice is worth it.

… I’m just bone-tired of slogging away writing on spec when my editing and pseudonymous writing bring more regular and guaranteed response and reward, even when what I regard as ‘my own’ writing is what I really love to do.

So I said I was taking a break from writing new me material and concentrating on other work, and that’s exactly what I’ve done. This decision did also coincide with a long period of depression and all kinds of other crises, which did nothing to put me in a writing place.

And I concluded by saying that while I felt that way at the time of writing the blog post, it was entirely possible that I’d change my mind at some point.

So: have I changed my mind?

Not entirely, but I’m wavering.

Getting shortlisted for this year’s Philip K Dick Award was a big ego boost: people out there really got what I was doing with that novel (Harmony, aka alt.human). And beyond feeling flattered and understood, it did something else, too.

You know those little nagging thoughts writers get? Those what if…? moments. They started happening again. And I had that writers’ equivalent of restless feet.

The bug was biting again.

I’m still torn about committing to an on-spec novel (although if someone was to drop me an email commissioning one I’d certainly consider it), but I think at least some short fiction will be committed this year.

In particular, I’ve agreed to write a four-parter for the new serial fiction magazine Aethernet. My take on serial fiction will be a set of three stories giving different perspectives on a momentous event, and a concluding story pulling them all together. So not serial fiction in a linear sense, but certainly in spirit.

And now that part of my brain is starting to nag me again, I think more might happen. It’s like starting all over again.

It’s a good feeling, and it’s good to be enjoying life the way I am right now.

Now I think I’ll just sit back and wait for that flood of emails asking me to write something new. I can dream. I’m a writer, after all; a science-fiction writer.

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About Keith Brooke and infinity plus

Keith Brooke is a writer of science fiction, fantasy and other strange stuff, and editor and reviewer of same. He is also the publisher at infinity plus, an independent imprint publishing books by leading genre fiction authors. View all posts by Keith Brooke and infinity plus

6 responses to “After the Dick, what next?

  • StarkRadio

    I just finished reading Harmony and I was enthralled by the story. I want more! I was intrigued to see that you mostly publish via Kindle. I don’t have one, but because I want to read more of your stories, I’m going to go get one. Please keep writing! Just my two-cents worth.

    • keith brooke

      Thanks – that’s one of the nicest things you could say. I actually publish in pretty much any format available. Most of my novels (like Harmony) start in print with trade publishers, who also do ebook editions. This wasn’t the case not so long ago, so I have the electronic rights to a lot of earlier material which allows me to publish the electronic versions to Kindle and other formats. Glad you enjoyed Harmony, and thanks for commenting!

  • Bridget McKenna

    Keith, I was utterly enthralled with Harmony–the world, the characters, the story–but being a PKD judge meant I couldn’t shout its praises. I’ll gladly tell anyone who will listen what a truly great book I think you have here. I hope your award finalist status brings you many sales and lots of good press.

  • The Harmony buzz | all things keith brooke and infinity plus

    […] year, though, things changed. First there was the short-listing for the Philip K Dick Award, which was pretty damned nice. Then, in the last two or three weeks the book has picked up some […]

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