Mr. V Explains the Last Six Months of His Life

Perhaps a better title for this post would be, “Where the hell have you been? You haven’t been blogging. You haven’t been calling? What’s wrong?”

Just as a recap, here a taste of what was going on with me during the past six months:

1) My Life as a Rhombus came out.
2) I spent the better part of February doing school visits, booksigning, and book festivals.
3) I started a new semester at Vermont College.
4) In addition to my Vermont College work, I also worked on getting another manuscript ready for submission.
5) At the Brown Bookshelf, we kicked off our 28 Days Later Campaign.

On top of all of that stuff:

6) I still have a full-time job. And believe me, designing bridges isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do.
7) And on top of all of that, I still have a wife and a house and two dogs. And a mother and a father and a brother and a sister and nieces and nephews and in-laws.

So I’m going to be totally honest here. The last six months were murder. Seriously. There were some mornings where I didn’t think I had the energy–both physical and mental–to pull myself out of bed, much less make it through the day. There were some nights where I worked on writing stuff until 5 o’clock in the morning, took a two-hour power nap, and then went to work.
There were some nights were I didn’t even have two spare hours for a nap.

So, I had to give some things up. First on the list–blogging. That was pretty easily to do, actually. As much as I missed it, I figured that I could always pick it up when I needed to.

The second thing was much harder to give up. I pretty much became a social hermit, cutting off ties with many of my friends. My thought was that if my friends were real friends, then they’d understand, and they’d still be there when things calmed down. I still believe that to be the case.

And family life was…strained. And I’ll leave it at that.

But, you know what–it’s July. And I’m still here. And so are my friends. And so is my family. And so is my job. And so is this blog.

I thought about taking a semester off from the program for a brief second, before pushing that thought out of my mind. Now, I know a lot of people take semesters off, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But in my case, I needed to push through. I needed Vermont College. More than anything, for those that don’t understand writing–for those that see it as something easy, as a hobby, as something not worthy of blood and sweat and tears–Vermont College gave me a legitimate reason to write.

And it paid off. We sold a book to Delacorte. Rhombus did (and continues to do) really well. Rita was pleased with my VC work. And I even wrote a picture book.

And you know what else? I’d do it all over again. In a heartbeat. Without thinking twice.

I am a writer. As much as I wish otherwise, it’s more than a job. It is more than a passion. It’s a way of life for me, and for better or worse, it’s who I am now. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from Vermont College, it’s that.

Another thing that I’ve learned is that I’m going to be honest from now on about my writing. I write. It’s important to me. Plain and simple–I want a writing career.

More importantly, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a writing career. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be successful and get paid to do what you love to do.

Now, a writing career means a lot of different things, which I’m still trying to define. And, I’m not saying that I’m plan to march into my job tomorrow and quit–I promise, that’s the last thing I want to do. (Plus, engineering is a big part of who I am as well. I’m not sure if I could give that up.)

All I’m really saying is that, for a long time, I side-stepped and avoided talking about what I really wanted out of writing. I marginalized and belittled it. It wasn’t a real career…it was just something I did on the side.

Well, those days are over. My name is Varian Johnson, and I’m a writer. And I’m not ashamed to say that I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of it.

So, while this post seems to have gotten a little off-topic, I’m going to post it anyway. And while I’m at it, I really need to give a special shout-out to my Vermont College Class–The Super Secret Society of Quirk and Quill, to the Awesome Austin Writer’s Workshoppers, to my critique group (April, Helen, Brian, Frances, and Julie), and to my advisor, Rita Williams-Garcia, and to Cynthia, for just being Cynthia. A lot of people don’t understand the writing life, but y’all do. Thank you for being there when I needed to bitch and moan and complain.

The next six months are going to suck, but not nearly as bad. I’ve got a critical thesis to write. I have a new novel I’m working on. I have to get edits in for RIGHTEOUS pretty soon. And I’d actually like to spend some time with Mrs. V.

Okay, so enough with the backstory. There you have it. Perhaps a little personal, but sometimes it’s okay to be personal, right?

Or maybe I’m still feeling all touchy-feely from Vermont. It can have that effect on you, you know.

3 Responses to “Mr. V Explains the Last Six Months of His Life”

  1. PJ Hoover

    Wow, this is quite a post! And I haven’t even known you six months, so I never knew you were missing.
    I had a rough time giving up referring to myself as an engineer, and I know I always will still be one. After all, fixing stuff around the house is fun 🙂 And it really is a part of who I am.

    But taking on the new title of writer/author was fun and cool. And makes me feel so serious.

    Congrats on all the wonderful things you’ve been doing in the last six months!

  2. Varian Johnson

    Thanks PJ. It sounds like you’ve been doing some wonderful things as well. I hate that I missed your workshop last weekend.