I won't hold any illusions of changing the world or any such nonsense. But maybe, just maybe, I'm helping someone else change his or her life a little bit for the better, even if it just means giving someone a magical place in which to hide.
This little hobbit saves the world. The wizard kills the dragon and saves the town. So many people connect to that character; it doesn't matter if it's an elf or a hobbit or a dwarf. It doesn't matter. They're human in their heart and soul.
So, while I gave up the notions of publishing at that time, I never stopped editing and refining that book. A few years later, in 1987, I thought I had it ready to go out again.
I never intended to be a professional writer; as the story developed, the one thing I had in my hopes was that this would be something tangible to separate me from the nameless, numbered masses.
Also, there are authors and publicists using the Internet to manipulate opinion, both positively for a work and negatively against the competition. I don't do this and can't stomach it, honestly.
Here's the thing, for me at least: this is a huge genre now. It wasn't always so. Not so many years ago, it wasn't so. There is a tremendous diversity in fantasy today.
I loved to read and to write, but then something happened. As I made my way through school, I kept getting handed books to read that didn't excite me and didn't even remotely connect to the realities of my life.
Definitely they write themselves. It's an amazing experience. It's like the characters have come alive and are sitting on my shoulder talking to me, telling me their tales.
I don't often know exactly what's coming next, and that makes it more fun. And you know, for me, this entire genre is all about that; it's all about having fun and getting away from the mundane world for just a little while.
This is my spiritual journey through life, my way of making sense of the world. I don't need permission from anyone or accolades from anyone; it is completely internal.
On a more practical level, anyone out there who wants to be a writer should clearly recognize that this is a brutal business, where even incredibly talented people sometimes never make a living. If you want to chase such a dream, please have a Plan B in place.
Whenever you're writing a book or creating a movie or a game, your first task is to get the reader/audience/player to suspend disbelief, to buy into the logic and boundaries of your world, even though those boundaries might include things like dragons and magic. To do that, you need long threads - of history and culture.
Writers always have confidence issues - it comes with the territory. We never know where we fit in, or what the actual value of our work might be. So we hit lulls, or slogs. Throw in the idea that many creative people are somewhat manic-depressive, and it can get pretty dark at times.
I do that mostly because I believe that the fantasy business is in terrible trouble right now, for several reasons, not the least of which being the almost Democrat vs. Republican mentality of readers on the Internet.
I thought I would set the world on fire when I got out of college. I had done quite well in a field that was growing. Unfortunately, we got hit with a recession in 1981.
In the past, TSR and now Wizards of the Coast have asked me to do game stats for my characters, and I'm never comfortable doing that. It's all relative after all.
I didn't and don't go to Internet for any business purposes. The book sales for me by this point are way beyond any influence I might have, positively, or others might have, negatively.
It got so bad that by the time I was graduated, the only reading I did was in order to get the grade and the only writing I did was in order to get the grade.
Whether it's a kid in high school who doesn't have any friends and finds friends in my characters, or a guy in Afghanistan, who's trying to forget what he did that day, and trying not to think about what he's gotta do tomorrow... I give them a little bit of an escape.
I don't know how many bestsellers I've got, or half the awards I've won, and I don't really care. I'm just having fun, doing something I love and getting paid for it. How cool is that?