I'm Thankful For You—And You—And You ...

Right now it is raining outside. I am on the couch, wearing knee-high purple argyle socks, a soft grey long-sleeved t-shirt, and my favorite pair of underpants. There is a soft blue blanket wrapped around me, in one fold of which is bundled a sleepy miniature dachshund who does his best napping after lunch. He huddles close enough for me to use him as an armrest while I do work on the laptop. He likes this: makes him feel like he's helping. And by "work," I mean: looking up what the contents of the British Museum were in 1816. Or writing a scene where an incubus seduces a virginal-but-curious heroine. Or tweaking some descriptions of an artificial aether-powered heart in a futuristic steampunk space opera. Whatever seems most exciting to work on at the time.

Days like this I am so thankful to be an author that I could damn near cry.

It's been a little over a year since I signed my first contract with Ellora's Cave. I've had two short books out since then with a third on the way, and Jesus H. Jones have I learned a lot.

And I have so much to be thankful for. I'm thankful for my supremely talented editor—hi, Meghan!—and the print book that's now out. I'm thankful for my wonderful readers—you know who you are—who are worth their weight in gold, regardless of whether or not they liked my books. (I learned quite a bit from the people who didn't like my books, to be frank.) I am thankful for a galaxy of authors whose stories delight me and whose examples I am eager to follow. I am thankful for my marvelous husband who is the world's best beta reader (as well as his other sterling qualities I'm just too much of a lady to discuss here).

And I finally am thankful to have a job that lets me use all the parts of my brain and heart to their fullest extent.

It's not all sunshine and roses—I've had my share of down days and rough patches and moments of sheer pants-wetting metaphysical terror. And that's just in one year of authorship! But even the worst days are better than the best days at many other jobs I've had. And then I'll write a sentence I just know is perfect, or I'll discover the reason for that scene I didn't have a place for but couldn't get out of my head, or I'll see something perfecly ordinary in daily life and suddenly be caught up in the passion of a new story idea that has to be outlined right now, or I'll talk to another author on Twitter and they'll say something to make me laugh.

This is the first time in my life I have looked at a job and thought, I will do this happily until Death pries the keyboard from my twitchy, arthritic hands.

This week we've lost Anne McCaffrey, and earlier this year we lost Diana Wynne Jones, both of whom had as profound an impact on my reading and writing life as Shakespeare or Homer or David Foster Wallace. It's been marvelous to see how people respond with warmth to the loss of authors they've loved. Good storytelling saves lives and refreshes hearts in ways nothing else can. It makes us more at home with ourselves, and with each other.

And I'll talk a lot about how I love doing my job sans pants, or that I can create worlds where things happen because I say so—but what it really comes down to is that desire to brighten lives, to say something true enough that someone's heart will leap up when they read it, to discover people and places that only exist on the page but which may be a key to something in our real world.

Being an author is a privilege, and I am humbly thankful.