Feb 01, 2021
4 mins read
Weird question, right? No? Just me? Okay, fair enough.
To me, that is too broad an inquiry to quickly parse, and replying with, 'My heart, generally,' doesn't go down well most of the time (either nobody appreciates great comedy or I'm a terrible comedian). But really, aren't there a great many things that make us tick, most of which we're probably not aware of? Still, it is interesting to ponder the individual pieces that make up our whole, though I much prefer doing that privately rather than in some sort of forced conversation scenario. I'm not saying this is a forced conversation, by the way. I mean, I'm the one who started it. What I'm trying to say is that usually this is the type of question I'm asked by a person sitting on the other side of a desk or table who is trying to assess whether I'm suitable to perform a task or tasks. Or something like that.
Yeah, moving right along.
So, this wasn't quite the direction I wanted for this post. I sat down with the intention of writing a snappy, happy introduction to me and my writing. And derailed myself immediately. I should go back and start over (I am a compulsive editor) but I'll get to that later (I'm trying to become better at procrastinating; it seems like something I should be good at).
So, who am I, really?
Well, if you got here from my website, you'll probably already know that S.C. Mae is a pseudonym. There's no particular reason I'm using a penname. Mostly, I just like the secret agent-y aspect: The name's Mae, S.C. Mae... and so on.
Too, using a pseudonym allows me to pay some homages. The S is my middle name (no, I'm not paying homage to myself), the C is my Dad's middle name and Mae is my Mum's middle name. Cool, right?
I've had short fiction published in the past under the taglines Samuel Mae and Samuel C. Mae. And for a time I also published and edited an e-zine called Comets and Criminals. That was fun. And eye-opening too, especially in terms of how many writers are out there trying to sell short stories. C&C only paid 1c a word (the bottom end of semi-pro rates) and wasn't around long enough to build a reputation but we were still inundated with submissions.
Running an e-zine is hard work and, particularly for the smaller paying ones such as C&C was, primarily a labor of love. C&C didn't last all that long (and went through several iterations in that time: quarterly epub to monthly website release to reprints only in both text and audio) but I finished up with a real appreciation for the zines that have stayed alive for many years. Those peeps rock!
C&C taught me something else as well: I love crafting stories of my own. Don't get me wrong, I loved the tingle of anticipation that crept up my neck every time I opened a new submission - would this be a story that would blow me away and would I in a few years be saying, 'I published this writer before they got big'? - and I loved working with writers to (hopefully) strengthen their fiction before it hit the interwebs, but I learned that I really love writing my own stuff.
I find the whole process exhilarating. Yes I find it tough, too, both mentally and emotionally, and there are days (sometimes weeks) when I'm a puddle of self-doubt but overall I just love, love, love to write. From that first dust speck of an idea, to pouring out a story outline (these tend to come in a rush, I've found, except when they don't), to hammering away at the first draft (and watching the story change as I write it), to carefully whittling that draft down into a finished product, crafting a story is just glorious.
One day I would like to write fulltime. Many moons ago I took a year off work to do just that. Lived off my savings. It was a learning year more than anything - while I've been writing for as long as I can remember and have wanted to make a living from it for almost as long, I'd only recently begun seriously pursuing the idea - and once my savings ran out back to paying work I went. But I learned a lot. Not just about the craft but also about the dedication required (writers write every day, for one - writing when you're inspired is nice but there'll be about 360 days a year when you're not feeling it), and a whole lot else besides.
Since then I've continued to hone my craft. There have been periods when I haven't written much (for varying reasons) but for the last few years I've stuck to a good routine. To the point where I feel comfortable that I can not only regularly complete novels as well as provide what I've promised to subscribers but that what I create will be good quality (saying that last bit feels weird, to be honest, but I'm going to fight my natural desire to be self-deprecating and stick to my guns).
Soon my 4-book series, Jazz Healy, Reunion, will hit e-book stores, and there are more novels coming after that. Too many ideas, too few hours. Or something. Writing fulltime wouldn't completely cure that ailment but it would certainly help. One day!
Before I completely derail myself again, let's answer my original question about what makes me tick: A great many things but creating stories is definitely a big one!