From Base Camp to Summit: On My Own Personal Everest

I have to take a moment and thank John Lawson for doing something wholly unexpected when he inadvertently pointed me toward an old blog of mine that I haven’t updated in years. Out of curiosity (and a little whoa, that still exists), I hopped on over there to see what was there.

The third post on the front page was “Emmie’s Everest.” It was about goals. And as I read it, I started feeling…well. A wee bit blubbery. My throat did that close up thing, my eyes started stinging, my lip started feeling loose on its hinge. Because I wrote the post three years ago, and reading through it, I discovered that many of the goals in it? I’ve met.

I’m going to go through them here.

Who do I want to be as a writer? As Forrest Gump might say, “Aren’t I going  to be me?” Well, yes. Essentially, I’m not aiming to be the next Stephen King or Jo Rowling or Stephenie Meyeror “the next” anyone. I want to pave my own way and establish my own niche in my market.

I know that’s a cop-out answer. I hope this one is a little better: I want to be a best-selling urban fantasy author who turns out new books, each better than the ones that came before them. I want a writing career where I am always striving to be better, bolder, and unique.

This remains the same — though for me, I’ve kind of sloughed off the “urban” qualifier in favour of SFF in general. I want to explore new worlds and tell human stories through the lens of magic, the supernatural, technology, and science. 

Who do I want to reach? I want to reach the lovers of magic and the supernatural. People who love vampires and shapeshifters and twists on our world. People who love human stories in the midst of all that. My ideal audience is people who love the grittiness of Buffy — or Twilight fans after some of the glitter has worn off the vampires. People who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty and like their sweet with a touch of bitter.

 Ain’t nothin’ changed here. I don’t usually write the HEA. (Happily Ever After) Much as I can respect it, I like the complexity of a bittersweet ending and the sense that an ending is the start of something else. I aim to leave my readers satisfied, even if they’ve got a lump in their throats. 

What is my definition of success? I will consider myself successful when I can amply provide for myself and my family by the sole means of my writing. When I can quit my day job and still have wiggle room after the squeak of the bills grinds to a halt, I’ll know I got there.

Here’s one of the biggies. 

A month from today, I’m leaving my day job behind. That’s not to say it’s forever; it might not be. But my books are consistently earning me enough to support me. I don’t have kids, and I have relatively few expenses. This was the one that made me stare. By my own definition, I have found success. 

A big fear I have — an ongoing, pervasive, insidious fear — is of having my accomplishments taken away. I had it happen last year when my books got orphaned after so much struggle to place them. But three and a half years ago, I wrote this definition of success and happened to stumble across it today after all that time, while I have a countdown to my last day of work right in front of me. No one can take that away.

Where do I want to be in three years? In three years, I want to have a book somewhere on the New York Times or bestseller lists. I want to be planning a migration to Scotland and maybe thinking of building our home. Maybe even thinking of spawning some little Emmies.

Well…NYT bestselling is still a long way away for me (if it ever happens), but…all three of my books are tromping around Amazon’s genre bestseller lists. It’s not Twilight numbers, but as I mentioned above, it’s allowing me to quit my day job and live comfortably. And Scotland? After California, that’s my next stop. My final destination. Nine US states is enough. I know where I’m off to next. (As for the little Emmies…that ain’t happening after all. I’d considered it for a long time as something I was Supposed To Do. I don’t think that way anymore.)

Where do I want to be in five years? In five years, I would like my family to be ensconced in our home in Scotland with a charming husky and a fluffy orange cat that meows a lot. I want to spend my days writing in my library and continuing to hone my craft. I’d like to have filled another passport up with stamps from all over the world.

I’d also like to have met an elephant by then.

Two years from now, hmm. I hope I’m at least preparing for my move to Scotland. The husky happened (though she remains with my now-ex husband, and I miss her a lot a lot), and so did the fluffy orange cat who meows a lot. I also have my brown tabby who meows even more. Two years from now, I do want that passport. I want my writing cave. The writing cave thing? That’s happening in 43 days. 

I’m having a tough time writing this without crying (happy tears). I’ve spent the last few years working very very hard. 

That elephant thing is still a huge priority. Must meet elephant. 

In TEN YEARS?! Ten years from now, I’d like to be done popping out kids so I can make my husband get a vasectomy and stop having to deal with foreign hormones clogging up my body. I want to write every day. I want to teach my children to love books and that they can be whoever they want to be. I want to show them the world. I want to share what I have with others and give back as much as possible. Some dreams I have in that sense are to make hefty donations to cancer research (I’ve lost several loved ones to that cursed disease), to Eve Ensler‘s heroic work for V-Day to stop violence against women, and to find some little girls that remind me of myself and make some of their dreams come true.

Again with no kids, and as a sidebar, my ex had agreed that a vasectomy was in the cards when we were done (I’d never MAKE someone do something to their body like that). Anyway, it’s moot now, since…childfree and all. The rest of that? Still relevant. Seven years from now I hope I’m making a difference and doing what I love for a living. Giving back. 

What kind of income do I want to make? I would love to have enough to build our dream home (which, by the way, is NOT 10,000 square feet, nor does it have a pool or any columns or more than 5 bedrooms or any other such nonsense), pay off all my debt (including the debt of my immediate family, of which there is quite a lot), and make the aforementioned hefty donations as possible. I don’t care about millions per year. One thing I’ve learned from a lifetime of never having enough of it is that money does not buy “happiness,” but it can alleviate a great deal of stress and improve quality of life. I want my children to have more than I did, but still to know the value of their own work and to take joy in earning something for themselves. I don’t have a specific number of how much money I want to make, just that I want to be able to pay for the things I value: family, books (ha), travel, and causes that matter to me.

By “our” dream home, I think I meant mine. I don’t think it was ever my ex’s dream. Which is fine; he has is own dreams. One of the reasons we didn’t work out is because those dreams weren’t the same. A big part of that was kids. Another part was Scotland. That’s where I’m headed eventually. 

I still want to build that home of mine. I still don’t care about millions; I just want to know that my needs are met, my kitties are happy, and my debts are paid off. Anything more than that, I’ll try to steward as best I can while allowing myself to enjoy it as well. I don’t aspire to extravagance. 

That is my Everest. Right now I’m at base camp, starting the trek. Took a long time to get prepared for even this leg of the journey, now I’m about to begin my ascent.

Three years down. Funny timing, looking back on this now. 

Maybe later this week I’ll update my answers.


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