I recently met a bunch of new people and once they found out I was a writer, they asked “Have you written anything I'd have heard of?”
How the hell do you respond to this?
I've been asked variations of this over the last few years, and I typically end up trying to explain that yes, I am published, no I'm not self-published, yes the books I'm in are widely available, no they're not my books they're anthologies...but I have compiled and edited anthologies and novels. Yes, these are widely available, no you probably haven't heard of the writers/publishers unless you run in those circles. Every conversation ends the same, where I relent to succinct self-promotion and tell them to “Google Wayne Goodchild. I should be the top result, or near the top.”
Likewise, if people ever ask me if I've written/published a novel, I say no, because although I've written a full one (that I shop around every so often and have received legitimate decent feedback on) and I'm actively working on another, the fact remains absolutely anyone in the world can and probably has at some point 'worked on a novel'. You don't need to be an actual writer to have written one. I know a few people who think of themselves as writers (or used to) without ever actually getting published. It's like saying you're an artist but never showing anyone your paintings – maybe you're really good, but if you don't do anything with your work, you're just full of hot air.
Speaking of hot air, I've run out of steam (ooo, nice segue!) in recent years regarding writing. I started taking it seriously in the first place because I found myself unemployed and with a ton of time on my hands. I chose to make productive use of this time by hammering away at stories to, hopefully, sell. Now, six years later I have a sizeable number of publication credits under my belt and, although I won't feel like it until I've had either my own work published or paid pro rates, I'm a professional writer. NAME DROP ALERT: when I attended the book signing for Phobophobia in London at the end of 2011, I told Jonathan Green I didn't feel like a professional writer and couldn't believe my luck that I was in a book alongside such writers as himself, Simon Kurt Unsworth and William Meikle. Jonathan very kindly pointed out that they're classed as professional writers, so if I'm in a book with them, it stands to reason I must be too.
Anyway, I've always had a fear of losing momentum. And I have/did. In communication with other writers, I know this is a common occurrence, and it has less to do with writers block and more to do with life getting in the way. I'm unemployed again and close to getting married, and at this moment in time have no idea what country I'll be living in by the end of this year, so naturally my focus is all shot to pieces. However, I'm taking great pains to use my free time and channel recent experiences/problems into writing. It is and always has been a very cathartic experience for me, as I'm sure it is for other writers/artists/etc. I've always maintained that if I can't create I'll die, metaphysically speaking. It's why you'll likely never find me in an office job (if I can help it).
So what ARE you working on, Wayne? Well, I'm glad you asked. Two main things, right now: an ostensibly 'sci-fi' novel that is actually every single genre at once and a 'sci-fi' novella that starts as an absurd satire before morphing into something a hell of a lot more sinister. The novel is some way references pretty much everything I've had published before, and the novella will be the final story in a short story collection. This collection could be my first attempt at dipping my toes in the murky waters of self-publishing, but only because most of the stories have been previously/legitimately published (by independent presses that have unfortunately folded). All the stories will be in some way tweaked and likely bookended by a few brand new ones. It'll also be presented chronologically, with stories starting in the 1860s and ending in the latter half of this century. Someone pointed out to me that my 'speciality' seems to be 'small town horror', plus unrelentingly bleak endings. The collection will have both of these in abundance. Yippee!