It’s my birthday, and… a drink, you say? Oh go on, since you’ve already opened a bottle.
It’s an understated occasion. I understate a great deal. I’m not really in the habit of celebrating my birthday. It’s not a different day; it’s not really a milestone; I’ve not achieved anything new (if anything, I’ll temporarily lose the ability to instantly state my age whenever asked, until I adjust). By workplace tradition, I am required to buy cakes, so today I did, so today I am older and poorer. Fetch my party hat.
Today my Facebook feed gets inundated with birthday messages from many of my friends, which is nice, and I’m grateful, but I know that very likely this is the only time in the last year that some of them have communicated with me at all. And because I don’t place much meaning on my birthday, I don’t hype the importance of other peoples’ much, so odds are I haven’t joined in any indundations of anyone else’s page recently. Sometimes I think I should… but it seems like an awkward habit to start. If I wish one person well, why didn’t I wish someone else well a few days ago? I’m not playing favourites – in friends or days. I wish my friends well every day… but that’s understated. Maybe a birthday is really just a day for a timely explicit reminder of well-wishing.
But one of my friends went one better. In addition to a more direct congratulatory message, Josh Reynolds went on Facebook and Twitter and told all his friends and followers that it’s my birthday – and they could celebrate that by buying the eBook of my short story, ‘The Last Ride of Heiner Rothstein’, from the Black Library website.
A moment later, Chris Wraight had retweeted it. And David Guymer repeated the gesture on Facebook a little later.
I loved that. I far prefer the celebration of achievement, of tasks completed. It wasn’t even marred by the comment someone made that the story confused them (which is fine. I’m the first to admit it has flaws. I’m just happy it had a reader!). But it’s not just that, from these three Warhammer novelists. It’s a declaration of membership, something I often forget.
I’m a published Black Library author.
I don’t mention it often, for a simple reason: my relationship with Black Library has never progressed to the stage where they’ve asked me to pitch more stories. I have experience of the publishing industry which I draw on in conversations and forum discussions with people who lack that experience, and some of those people want to be published and don’t know how it works. But since I’m not a Name, I don’t really see the point of affecting a swagger. No-one’s asking me what I’m working on next; there isn’t really a next.
But the title doesn’t expire. I’m a published Black Library author. I wrote a story and the editors thought it was good enough to publish. Over time – the story was sold four years ago, and first released over three years ago – I still occasionally hear of someone new who read it. And I’m still trying to come up with the stories which will let me get published again. It’s like… before publication, there was a struggle to get published. And since… there’s a struggle to return from involuntary retirement. You’ve got to keep writing, keep submitting, and keep getting published, if you’re to stay on the mountain.
Maybe this year, I’ll make it back there again. Here’s hoping. Cheers, all!