Sometimes - a lot of times, actually - I worry that I won't make it as a writer.
Okay, I know - boring, profoundly unoriginal confession. But feel me here: this fear is a Protean beast if there ever was one, and everyone who's ever set pen to paper knows it.
First it's a giant cyclopean "can't write."
Then you suck it up and crank out some words, and the fear shapeshifts into a three-horned "can't write worth a damn."
Then you work some more and start getting some spit in your polish and it coalesces into "won't ever finish the novel." When you finally do type 'The End', the fear morphs into "isn't good enough to publish." (From there I hear it's "going to get mangled in editing / terrible cover / no marketing," followed by "will get terrible reviews" and "will sell worse than New Coke," and ultimately, "the next book is going to be a huge letdown.")
Anyway, right now my fear is a giant sasquatch called "unsaleable concepts." You know, when you can't easily point to five bestselling series and say, "like that, but with zombies, and more cowbell," you start to wonder if that oh-so-shiny genre-bending/breaking/fusing idea you had was really such a good idea after all. You may, in unguarded moments, feel like the biggest ostrich-riding cowboy on the whole Island of Misfit Toys.
This fear is, of course, insurmountable. It's the reason why we don't have YA sci-fi novels where clever heroines dual-wield Christianity and quantum physics to save their dads from alien groupthink. Or why nobody has ever successfully published an intricate literary/historical English fantasy novel... as an 800-page debut. Or why you can't build a career on redneck vampires, hard-boiled robo-cabbies, and couch-surfing raccoon gods.
Actually, let me stand on that last part for a sec.
The older I get, the thirstier I am for novelty - for one-of-a-kind stories that make me sit back and think, "Damn. I am really sad that's over, because I know I'm not going to find that anywhere else."
This is part of what amazes me about A. Lee Martinez. Every one of his books is its own independent fictional planetoid, circling no larger cohesive star. I loved Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain, because it's exactly what it promises - complete with Venusian lizard-warrioresses, irradiated dinosaurs, and the most sinister of disembodied brains - and with real thought and heart under all the pulptacular spectacle. But I dreaded turning the last page, because I already knew that Amazon couldn't sell me anything remotely comparable - not even from Martinez's own catalogue.
(But no longer! He's Kickstarted a short story anthology, Robots vs. Slime Monsters, featuring a new story from each of his novels - and it is within a truck-driving werewolf's whisker of being funded. If you've enjoyed his stuff in the past or want to support the barn-raising community approach to getting great stories out into the world, stop by and kick in!)
This stokes my fires something fierce. I want to write like these people here. I want my books to be rarities, limited and exceptional works that are an extra pain in the ass to market and publish precisely because they don't lend themselves to glib comparisons and easy replacement. That is a tough honor to earn, and worth wrestling the fearbeast every step of the way.
Anyway. Coming laboriously around to the point, I think we've got ample evidence here to prove that:
1. You really, truly can write anything. There's nothing stopping you from being more daring and unconventional than everyone else - just as long as you're also more persistent and pound-for-pound skillful than they are, too. (This is the part I'm still working on.)
2. If your fear is evolving, you're probably doing something right.
3. Win or lose, you gotta love your ostrich.
"There's a yeti in the freezer," he observed.