These are some of the things I have not done:
I haven't picked a box and decided to stay inside it. Boxes are restraining and after a while you start to feel claustrophobic. They’re square and hard and nothing like the shape of your heart and soul.
I haven’t had that one book published which all my other works before and after will be judged by. That defining novel, the one that everybody can point to. The one that overshadows everything else.
I haven’t ever gone through the motions in any of the twenty-plus works of fiction I’ve written. Every single story I’ve told, whether it was a love story or a horror novel or a film novelization or a collaboration, has had a chunk of myself poured inside it. Every single book of mine is truly my own, regardless of how big my name is on the cover.
I’ve never developed any kind of brand. For instance, look at my author photos over the years. They’ve never looked the same. Neither have my covers. I have no kind of brand whatsoever. You might love one of my novels and hate the next. One might be sweet and the other might be scary.
The writing process has never been easy. I’ve never simply come up with a story and then told a publisher about it and had everything work out smooth and easy. It’s never, ever been quick, even in projects that needed to be written in a very short time frame. Everything has taken an incredible amount of time. My patience has been and continues to be tested on a daily basis.
I haven’t ever picked a pattern and stuck with it, the way a lot of bestselling authors do. They figure out a formula that works and keep at it. Change characters and settings and themes but keep the overall tone and feel. I’ve tried every single point-of-view including second person. Have tried different timelines, different means of telling the story. I’ve had one character or seven narrating the tale. I’ve been in past and present tenses. Every time I’ve done something, I’ve tried my hardest not to duplicate the story the way I just told it.
I haven’t burned any bridges. I’ve desperately held back some of the emails I’ve wanted to send, or some of the letters I’ve written in anger, or some of the calls I’ve wanted to make. Publishing is a small world, and word gets around. Either you’re a pain in the butt to work with or people like you. I’ve always tried to be the latter.
I’ve never finished a manuscript and said, “Well, that’s that. I’m never going to write anything better than that.” I’ve finished many with tears in my eyes and a surge of emotion in my soul. But I’ve always—always—felt that I could do better. My proudest work to date is The Solitary Tales series, yet I still can see some of the flaws inside it. I still feel like I can do better.
I’ve never been at a point where I could take a break in my writing career. For a long while, I needed to find time to juggle a full-time job along with my publishing journey. For the last five years, I’ve done everything I could to simply continue to survive as a full-time writer. I’m thankful projects have continued to come my way (as unexpected as some of them might be), but I’ve also had to keep knocking on doors waiting for an opportunity.
So all this list of things I haven’t done or achieved or had happened led me to be able to say this is how I did it. This is how I became the writer I always wanted to be, telling a variety of stories that mean something to me while continuing to stay out of the box and away from being permanently branded.
As a full-time novelist for over five years now, my love of the craft has only grown. I feel I’ve learned so much and still have so many stories to tell. I believe my defining novel is yet to come, along with my breakout work and my fan favorite.
Years ago, I rarely shared my dream of having a bunch of books in print. The dream looked too outrageous especially since I hadn’t even been published. Then, after being published, I seldom talked about the desire to do a variety of different types of novels until I’d already managed to do exactly that.
Never once do I come into my office patting myself on the back feeling I’ve arrived. Nope. The three beautiful faces of our young girls smile at me and force me to get to work. Something I’m fortunate to do.
The way I managed to see my dreams come true is simply by doing this thing day after night after day. There are times when I look at my writing and know I have a long way to go. There are times when I look at my bank account and wonder what in the world I’m doing. Yet when I step back and survey my writing journey, I remain thankful to God and humbled that I’ve been able to come so far.
As long as I continue to have a mind to imagine, I’m going to keep telling stories. I’m going to keep dreaming of places to go. And I’m going to continue to see a whole list of things not happen in order for me to get there.
Travis Thrasher is the author of over twenty works of fiction in a variety of genres. He has collaborated with musicians, filmmakers and pastors. His stories all feature broken characters on journeys toward redemption. Upcoming books for 2013 include the novelization of Home Run and Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not? co-authored with the band Thompson Square. Travis and his wife, Sharon, live in a suburb of Chicago and have three daughters. For more information on Travis, go to www.travisthrasher.com.
Author photo courtesy of 2012 Brio Media Photography & Design. All rights reserved.