I was born on October 16th, 1986 at 6:16 in the morning. As a result, my favorite number as a kid was 6 (still is? Do adults have favorite numbers?). I loved it, I’d talk about it, tell people in a sing-song voice that my favorite number was “six…six…six.” 

And my dad would call me a devil child and I didn’t know why. He would laugh and I would laugh because he was laughing.

We have a strange relationship. 

I just finished writing my sixth book. I don’t know if it’s any more magical for being number six. The fifth felt magical. Five before 30 just sounds impressive (or it did until my wife pointed out that I needed to stop greeting people that way. “Hi, I’m Ashley and I wrote five novels before turning 30!”). One was magical, I guess. I started writing that one when I was a teenager. Writing is different now. There’s the obvious: My first check was framed (after much debate). Now I’m just concerned about taxes. I used to have 20/20. Now I’ve got bifocals (when your mother says, “if you’re reading, turn on the light or you’ll strain your eyes too much,” listen).

The biggest change, of course, is in my process. When I was young, I was terrified that if the whole novel wasn’t finished when I pitched it, it would never get written. I wrote two and a half of the Dirty Trilogy before ever sending a proposal. I knew if I didn’t, there would be some obscure detail in book three that the entire rest of the trilogy hinged on and letting anyone read book one before I intimately understood book three would result in the apocalypse, probably.

I have overcome that fear?

When I sent in my last (beautiful, articulate) proposal, I pitched one book with a couple vague sentences outlining what the next few would look like. They sent me a contract for four books. Vague, muddled novels included. So now I’m contracted until the end of time and I have no plan. It’s fine.

I suppose I haven’t so much overcome that fear as said yes in a moment of panic and now I have to write some novels.

The healthy learning curve would be to make a schedule and follow it. I could even go crazy and plot the books out so as to avoid any messy, plot-hinging details. Instead, I’ve opted for procrastination. This, I feel, is where my true talent lies. Cash Braddock was beautifully procrastinated. I was writing thousands of words in a single sitting, sobbing and eating nachos, cursing myself and contracts and various deities. The Price of Cash (magical book six. Keep up) was procrastinated so well that I had to ask for my first extension. And then I was writing thousands of words in a single sitting, sobbing and eating pizza, and cursing myself, mostly. There’s something mythical about three a.m. two days after the denouement of your extension when you’ve already taken half a week off work and you really can’t face one more person brightly asking, “have you turned in the book yet?”

So yes, kind colleague who really has no concept of novel writing, but is earnest and sweet, I have turned in the book. I thank you for your blind support. I would also like to thank DiGiorno, which is a lie because it’s nothing like delivery, and my father who cursed me as a devil child, but never tried to curb my hellion-like impulses. All of you have led to this moment where I have learned nothing except a strange comfort with my own life choices.