Last week marked one year since Mr. Jordan’s passing. I wrote out something to post, but I just didn’t like it, so decided to scrap the idea. That was partially because I think I’d rather commemorate Mr. Jordan on a different day, such as his birthday next month or perhaps the publication date of EYE OF THE WORLD, rather than focusing too much on the day of his passing.
However, after thinking about it over the weekend while at MountainCon, I decided that I really did need to post something, if only a link back to the essay I wrote back in July about his passing. It’s probably the best I could do on this topic, and what follows below is just a tangential musing, more related to me than to him. It’s related to thoughts that have been tickling my mind recently.
A year ago, I assumed that Mr. Jordan had already exerted every bit of influence over my career that he was going to. During my youth, his books significantly shaped the writer I would become. Publishing with Tor became my personal holy grail, in a lot of ways, because of his presence there. His power for sales in the fantasy market (which pushed the genre with mainstream readers and also helped establish the fantasy hardcover as a viable publishing option even for midlist authors) changed how people buy books in our genre. Finally, his success at Tor allowed them to have the money to take chances on newer authors, such as myself.
When you weigh all of those things, I think you’ll find that my career–even before last year’s events–was dominated rather heavily by the Wheel of Time and Mr. Jordan himself. But with his passing, I assumed that no more such influence would come.
I guess you could say that I was wrong.
From this point on, I doubt more than a passing mention will be made of me any my writing without Robert Jordan’s name appearing as well. Any article, essay, or encyclopedia entry about me will list my work on the Wheel of Time as one of the most important events of my career. Twenty years from now, I will be doing conventions related to the Wheel of Time. It’s entirely possible that my career as a whole could end up as a footnote to that of Robert Jordan.
Does this bother me? To be honest, it doesn’t. I knew all of this before I accepted the project, and if I’d worried about it, I’d just have done the book without official credit. But that wouldn’t have been fair, either to myself or the fans. They deserve to know what they are getting, and deserve to understand that someone other than Mr. Jordan worked on this book. They deserve to know exactly who was involved.
Beyond that, a man could do much worse than be known as that guy who was involved in the last Wheel of Time book. A series like this one doesn’t come along but once a generation, and it’s humbling to be part of it.
Yes, I hope to be able to make my own mark on the genre. I hope that I can earn my own way onto the bestseller lists and into the hearts of readers. But in the end, if I’m like so many other good– but ephemeral–midlist authors, I’m not going to consider my career a failure. I’ll have told the stories that I want, and I’ll have worked in a job I love for my entire life. Who can really ask for more than that?
But it’s nice to know that, either way, I’ll have been involved in something lasting, something people will still be reading a century from now. The Wheel of Time has changed a lot of people’s lives. Mine most of all. And I’m very thankful for the chance to work on this novel, and for the willingness of the readers to accept me in as one of them. So, I guess my thoughts upon the one year mark turn toward you–I’ve found that Mr. Jordan’s greatest legacy is in the quality of fan that he inspired. You do him proud.
Annotations coming soon. Thank you all for reading.
p.s. Plaid Ajah: Yes. (Inside joke.)