In 2012, I launched my debut book, the Eye of God. Like most debut authors, I was quite proud of the time–I still am, despite its numerous warts and problems. I had a string of editorial issues. I hadn't found a superb proofing editor at that point. I learned a lot about writing. I'm still learning a lot about writing. I don't think I'll ever stop learning about writing.
Each book I write is stronger than the one before it, and I hope this doesn't change until the day I retire my pen once and for all.
I shared every single step of the process with all of you. I shared every failure and success. I put numbers out there. I discussed how I did what I did and why. I discussed how a failure happened–and what made up a success for me.
When I started my website, my altruistic nature bit me in the ass. I had so many problems finding good information on the internet about establishing a writing career. I didn't want people to endure the same sort of frustration. I started documenting everything I did, my processes, and how I was struggling to become a writer.
In short, I was connecting with other writers without really reaching readers. This is fine with me–I love working with writers. I love talking with writers. I'm a writer. We're a very special breed, and supporting each other is so often in our blood.
But, it doesn't make for commercial success. (Don't get me wrong, many writers are avid book lovers and readers, but most of us are in my shoes: scraping pennies together to buy cover art and so on.)
In my last post, I declared I was stepping away from working on Requiem for the Rift King and Witch & Wolf–and the Fall of Erelith. I have plans to continue these series, but here's the thing:
I have built my name hiding my gender to fit the expectations of a crowd who dosn't like female writers.
I have built my name and reputation among writers.
I have not built very much for me–for what I want to be.
I want to be a proud woman writing science fiction and fantasy.
RJ Blain isn't a proud woman. She's rather genderless, hiding behind a mask hoping to become something she's not. Forgive the third person for a few minutes–there are two mes I'm discussing here.
I have been working on a pseudonym. No, I'm not saying what the pseudonym is–I will explain later. I have two identities.
RJ Blain is my real name with initials. My pseudonym is actually the author name I originally picked for myself over a decade ago. She's very obviously a woman–and she's far more close to a genuine me than ‘RJ Blain' me. RJ Blain me is afraid of the sad and rabid puppies, because she's seen their cruelty to other women writing science fiction and fantasy first hand. She's had run-ins with them herself.
Sad and rabid puppies are too often cruel people. Why? They don't feel women have any business writing speculative fiction. Some are more vocal about it.
New Me, New and Genuine Me, has only one thing to say to the naysayers:
Go fuck yourselves. I'm a woman, and I'll write science fiction and fantasy, and I don't give a fucking shit if you don't like it. Go cry into your damned beer and choke on it while you're at it.
RJ Blain me isn't that brave.
Under my pseudonym, I am shedding out of the old clothes and wearing new ones… and it took me from 2012 to now to develop the skills and confidence to make this move.
My writing skills have dramatically changed from 2012 until now.
Let's talk about it. What is in my name?
RJ Blain loves helping people. That's in my name. I didn't edit for so long for the money, although I used my earnings to help my writing. I love books, and I love people.
Here is what's in my name, and I'm proud of each and every accomplishment.
In these eight novels are 860,000 (approximate) words of my life. Some of the words are wrong. Some of them could be written better. Some of them are in dire need of grooming. But all of them came from me. All of them I worked hard on, even though they're imperfect in so many ways.
What's in my name? These books.
Here's also what's in my name, and I'm proud of this, too, for so many difference reasons:
Most of all, I'm proud of my accomplishments, both fiscal and emotional. What's in my name? There's a lot of things, and so many of them are good.
As a woman, I've been told over and over the same shit. Here's a list:
And I listened, and that was a mistake. I want to be humble, because that is part of who I am. But I should be proud of what I've accomplished–and proud of the fact I'm willing to sit down and help others whenever I can.
I may not be writing new books under RJ Blain for a while, but I won't be abandoning my website. However, I will be writing about my efforts as an entirely new person breaking into a writing career again.
Second chances and all that.
I know a lot of authors have pseudonyms. I also know a lot of them are extremely open about it. If you love my books and want to know who I'm writing as, reach out. I'll send you the links.
But I am not going to announce it in public. If the identity spreads, I don't have a problem with this. But, RJ Blain has always been more than just me. In so many ways, my identity as an author, as RJ Blain, has been built by other writers–writers who found this website, found useful information, and wanted to help out.
If only I could really show you how much I have appreciated your help over the years. I really have. Every time someone has come up to me, telling me one of my posts really helped them, it has been a little like a light in the darkness.
As many of you know, I suffer from depression. I control it fairly well, but it's always there under the surface.
My decision to hide behind my initials makes it worse. It's not me. It's not who I really am.
So, while I will be coming back to this name, I will be doing so in a few years, and I will be saying, “Hello. My book titles say RJ Blain, but my name is Rebecca, and I'm pleased to meet you. I'm a woman, and I write science fiction and fantasy.”
I will tackle all of the things I hid face on, and do so with pride.
In the mean time, I am going to let myself out of the cage I built, and I will pursue the stories I never had the courage to tell–until now.
Readers, fans, lovers of books–I haven't forgotten about you. Without you, I am nothing.
But, I don't want the writers to feel they have to contribute to me financially because I give away what I've learned. That isn't going to change. The nature of it, however, will. I'll still be using RJBlain.com as a platform for discussing writing, my process, and what works and doesn't for me.
The only difference is, the books I discuss will be a bit of a mystery. There won't be links to the titles. What you will find here is for you, and it will be without obligation.
Among the writers are those who genuinely love my books, my characters, and my worlds.
You're welcome to join me on my new adventure… but you'll have to reach out to me. Consider it a scavenger hunt. New Me is out there, somewhere.
Here's how you can find me:
I'm sure someone will eventually blurt, “RJ Blain is $This Author!”
In public, I will deny, deny, deny… but in private?
You'll be right.
If you love supporting me as an author because you like me as a person, reach out to me. We'll talk. If you have questions on my decision, I'm happy to discuss them with you. There are a lot of ways you can help me, if you truly want to. Not because of guilt, not because I begged, and certainly not because you felt an obligation.
I want New Me to have a fresh start, and I want her to share her books with people who just want to love fun stories–without any strings attached.
blain (dot) rj (at) gmail (dot) com
Write me, if you want. And if you don't… keep enjoying this website. This is for you, and always has been.
Thanks for reading, thanks for writing, and thanks for being my friend.
You mean the world to me.