It's particularly embarrassing as this is such an important post from Jane, as you'll see. Having said which, I'll leave her to tell it in her own words.
- - - - -For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. While other kids wanted to be astronauts or ballerinas, I wanted to be a bestseller. To me, the ideal future was one in which I wrote a seductively engaging book, passed it off to a dashingly clever agent and watched as the entire world was entertained by my words.
It’s the End of the Trail for Me
It’s the End of the Trail for Me
That dream carried me for nearly thirty years, as I learned how to write and found ways to share my stories. I spent a good decade of my post-college years working meaningless jobs to pay the bills while I wrote like a madwoman in the evenings and went through endless rounds of rejections from agents. I was so sure that all I had to do was get one book out there and my career as a writer would be made.
I still remember writing END OF THE TRAIL. It was a bit of a lark – I’d been writing m/m fanfiction for years, but all of my family and friends told me it was waste of time to write original gay fiction, as no one would publish it. Still, I was having fun with the characters and I’d been more than a little worn down by years of constant rejections as I’d tried to get my more mainstream books into an overcrowded market. Just like fanfiction, END OF THE TRAIL was practice for the Real Thing (i.e., the book that would eventually make me famous.)
It was pretty amazing when END OF THE TRAIL was published – for the first time I could tell all of my family and friends that those years upon years of work was worth it – I was an author! Supremely confident in my writing dream, I sat back and waited for the money to roll in, counting down the days when I could quit the drudgery of my job and start my career as a professional author.
(I can be very naïve at times.)
After a couple of years and a couple more books, I finally understood that most authors do not, in fact, make a living on their writing. Now that I was looking at spending the rest of my life working for a living, with writing as a low-paying side job, I realized that I didn’t want to spend the next thirty-five years doing something I hated, just so that I could afford to spend an hour or two in the evenings doing something I enjoyed. It was time to find a career that spoke to me just as much as writing.
I’ve spent the last three years in an employment program that allowed me to try out several different jobs. It was a tough three years, with very little income and a move every year to a new place and a new job, but in the end it paid off – I finally found something that I enjoyed as much as the written word. And, unlike the written word, it pays enough for me to live on.
With a new career in hand, it was time to take stock of writing and I finally came to the realization that my idealized dream of being a reclusive writer who did nothing more than put words to paper was never going to happen. These days it’s at least as important for published authors to be salespeople as it is for them to be writers, and I’m terrible at retail.
Fortunately, there are now myriad ways for a writer to connect to readers without going the publication route. Of course, they don’t pay anything. On the other hand, I now make enough money doing something I enjoy that I can afford for writing to be a hobby again, and it’s important to me to put as much passion into my new career as I put into all of those years of writing.
To that end, I’m announcing the retirement of Jane Elliot from published fiction. The novels I have written for Manifold Press will stay available, but going forward I’m going to focus on writing strictly for fun. For the next little while, at least, that’s going to mean fanfiction. If you’re open to pairings of all genders, I hope you’ll give my new works a try.
I want to end with some thanks. A huge, huge thanks to Manifold Press, which has been amazingly supportive to me over the years. Special kudos to Fiona and Julie, who have been the best friends a writer could ask for. And, most of all, I want to give my deeply felt gratitude to my readers – without you I’d never have made it so far. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
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What can we say in response to that, except that it's been a joy to work with Jane - always professional, responsive and fully in command of her subject matter? Any editor or publisher with an ounce of intelligence would be thrilled to work with an author of Jane's calibre, and we've had that privilege for almost six years now. While we totally respect and support her decision to move on to other projects, we can't help being sorry that from now on life will be taking us on diverging trails. However we haven't quite given up hope of maybe running across one another again in the future!
All the best, Jane, with whatever you choose to do, from everyone at Manifold Press!