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  • Pete Mesling

Publishing after Fifty: A Look Ahead


Here I am, mere months away from my fiftieth birthday. Some milestones in life are more or less made up, but how could anyone let the half-century mark pass by without a little rumination, especially if you’re a writer? Everything I will have published through my forties is now out in the world. Everything else will be published in my fifties and beyond. That’s a neat reminder of my mortality, to be honest. Not that I needed one. I’m well aware of the fact that I’m going to die. Have you read my work?


So yeah, fifty. I’m not one of these milquetoasts who wants to live forever. I’m cozy with the idea that all of his bullshit will cease to exist for me at some point. It sucks that I have to give up the beauty of nature, the love of family and friends, and the works of artistic genius peculiar to our species in order to shed the dross—and that no one will ever again see the world quite the way I do—but hey, it was always part of the bargain, from the time that first wail was spanked out of me. I could rail against it, but acceptance will come, one way or the other.


The surprising thing about approaching fifty is that I’m more interested in looking ahead than behind, at least for the purposes of this post. I’m extremely proud of the majority of the work I’ve put out to date—all of which has appeared with my real name in the byline, incidentally—but I’ve got a lot of story left in these bones. Probably more than I have time to write. Now that is a little on the depressing side. But I’ve got to try, right? I envision eight more Portable Nine novels, for instance. One of them will definitely happen. I’m well into it and have no doubt it will evolve into a worthy sequel. I also have notes for a short story collection tied to characters from the Portable Nine novels. A YA science fiction novel is pretty far along in the planning stages, and in the distance there lurks, after all this time, a God-almighty horror novel (we’ll see; maybe it will be a novella). Then there are all the short stories and poems vying for priority in my brain.


That’s a lot, and time works against you in ways the young can’t even imagine. The brain and body start to slow down long before you’re truly old. Mileage will vary, but these machines aren’t built to last. There is a happy little variable in all of this, though, and the oldsters out there are probably way ahead of me. It’s called retirement, and what it does is free up at least forty hours of your precious time each and every week. I’m not sure exactly when I’ll be able to afford this golden goose, but I’m leaning heavily toward bowing out earlier than the average dope, even if it requires a bit of sacrifice. Hell, writers are used to that.


But let’s slow this steam engine down a tad, huh? I do actually have work planned for imminent publication. It’s not all floating around in some hypothetical tomorrowland. This coming January, for instance, will see the publication of my first novel for youngsters. It’s a portal fantasy called The Maker-Man of Merryville, and I think it’s going to surprise a lot of my readers. After that comes—drum roll, please—Fool’s Fire, my third collection of horror stories. Expect that in the summer of 2022. And wait until you get a load of the cover! It’s by a very well-known author and artist, but that's all I'll say for now.


And there you have it. You’ve read to the end. Congratulations, and thank you, dear reader. When I have more to say, you'll be the first to know. Until then ...

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