I doubt I will ever have the opportunity to have a face to face talk with you equivalent to the length of this article. Maybe you’ll read it, and maybe you won’t. I still would love to unpack everything I feel about how you changed my life and what you added to it after tonight’s event.
I came to Icon Festival today, thinking I’m going to see you on stage and it was unreal. To date, I’ve consumed eight of your books. I plan on consuming more soon. I read the three original Mistborn books, the three Stormlight Archive books, Warbreaker, and listened to Skyward on Audible. I loved all of them.
You made it pretty clear in your short Q&A that you got to where you are in a very dream-like scenario. But you still managed to inspire me with your belly of the whale comparison.
My name is Oren Cohen. I’m 32 years old, a Software Engineer, a writer, a gamer, and an all-around geek.
But you know what? There are some other things about me that I don’t usually tell people when I introduce myself to them. I have a huge debt to repay (51K worth of dollars), I still live with my parents, I’m not married or in a serious relationship. I don’t even drive a car. I’m so leveled up in the geeky areas that I neglected spending experience points in real-life skills.
I realized this state five years ago when I dared to plan the next few years and realized I would still be in so much debt if things remained as they were.
That was when I realized I was already in the belly of the whale.
Do you remember that saying that when you don’t think you could reach any lower point, you discover that you actually can? That’s what I realized at the beginning of 2019 when my dad told me he feared he wouldn’t live to see me married. He is 70 years old. I realized I fear that too.
What am I to do? I don’t have any money I could spare; my dreams are way off in the distance, and to top it all off, I’m in an incredible position at my day job, but work, events, and whatnot consume my entire day.
My dream is simple: I want to write what I love for a living. Not to fill anyone’s expectation of what I should be working at or doing with my career.
It would have been incredibly more comfortable if I didn’t have any debt. That’s the life of a Computer Science student who doesn’t want to live in poverty. You use credit because, hey, I can pay that later. Only, there’s a limit to how much you can postpone these things, as I painfully discovered.
One of the things you said tonight that resonated well with me was: writing code and writing stories activate the same areas in the brain. Therefore a programmer has a hard time writing after they finish their workday. You were literally talking about my life at that moment, and I have never realized that before. I always thought I would come back home after work, take a nice shower, and be ready to take on my writing tasks. But usually, those plans fall flat. I should have started my days doing writing work in the mornings, not in the evenings.
You also answered a person’s question saying something along the lines of, you should write what you want to write. That was after you mentioned one of the earliest revisions of the first Mistborn books was meant to follow in the footsteps of Game of Thrones.
Thank you so much for explaining that Plot and Character are usually more critical elements of the best fantasy stories than the setting. That was precisely what I needed to hear to tell myself that it’s fine to finish the story without having perfect worldbuilding in the first draft. I need to finish that story first.
There were just so many good things in that one meeting with you. I still can’t believe it was real.
Today I found the motivation to make the whale throw up and release me. You came and shed some more light on your journey with writing, where Fantasy is heading to, and you said the words I didn’t know I needed: “There has never been a better time to write Fantasy.”
I already began the journey towards what I want, but — as you taught me through your Stormlight books — the next step is the most important.
I’m flexible enough to change my routine and move writing to the morning and ready to trailblaze through that first draft of my fantasy story.
Thank you so much for your books, Brandon. Hopefully, before your time in Israel is up, I will have a selfie with you, and my hardcover Stormlight books will have some signatures on them.