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The Malcontent

For years I've heard the word "Malcontent" used to describe a hoodlum, an anti-social person who doesn't, or refuses to fit into society.`But Webster's Dictionary describes a malcontent as someone who isn't content; somewhat rebellious. After about five seconds of careful deliberation, I decided that the term also applies to me as well- as far as my writing goes.

I don't wear a black leather jacket or ride a motorcycle, but I have realized that I am rarely content. Not that I am not thankful, because I am. But I am always pushing for the next plateau with my writing. With nine books out, five of them traditionally published, I've enjoyed a small measure of success. I've been a finalist for a major prize, sold a fair number of books, and risen from the bottom of the rankings. To me, that is a good start.

It's not that I crave notoriety and praise. I want to be known as a good writer who puts out good novels, even if my genre isn't for everyone. To that end, I am constantly working to hone my craft. I look at my older books and think that I could have done this better, or that better. Perhaps all authors do that.

As to the rebellious part... There is an accepted path to success as a writer. Get a degree in writing, write several short stories and get them published in 'respectable' publications, take a year or two to write your novel, pursue an agent, sign with an agent, get published in a 'respectable' publisher, bask in your success. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The only problem is that that path could take years and for many, never come to fruition. There are many 'gatekeepers' along that path that say no or urge you to change this or that to be more mainstream, more 'sellable'. I think that's a load of bullcrap. The thing about creatives is that they create what they feel inside. Think of how Jimi Hendricks revolutionized guitar playing, how Monet and Renoir changed the art world, or how George Washington and his friends changed the world. At the time, I'm sure many thought of them as malcontent because they didn't want to do things the way they've always been done.

I don't mean to equate myself with any of these people, but I do not like the status quo in the writing industry. I published Souls Harbor myself. I know it wasn't perfect, but it was still a damned good story. After that, I published Southern Gothic. Collections, I was told, do not sell well. To date it's probably outsold everything else I have written, combined. I am no champion for writers, nor am I the first to think this way, but if I am going to do this then I'm going to write the stories inside my head the way they want to be written. Maybe that keeps me off the bestseller charts, maybe it doesn't. I don't know yet.

What I do know is that if I can't write the stories I want, the way I want, then there's no point in writing them at all So, perhaps I am a malcontent, but sometimes that's not a bad thing.


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