In November 2013 I started Britannia this past weekend I finished it only it is now named Concrete Memories. It has been sent off to two people who agreed to have a look and edit – this is hazardous duty because I am very thin skinned when it comes to my writing. Fingers crossed a rewrite will be done in six months time, then another edit and rewrite should have it ready by fall. It’s a lot of work considering people want to read everything for free these days but what can you do. Either you are a writer or you are not. If you are a writer then you write and hope to be read.
In truth more writing should have been accomplished that was seen during the Xmas vacations. That doesn’t mean that none was done but precious little in comparison to what could have been done. It comes down to focus and at the moment I don’t seem to have any. It is making a come back though as I started back writing the new story today.
There is a voice that comes into my head when I write. It is the narrator, the voice that tells the story and when it is gone it is difficult to conjure it. One good days it is clear and true and it seems like this could be something that I could do for a living. The trouble though is that the voice seems to be one which only I find of interest. This is not a solitary experience in the world of writing. Smashwords and Wattpad are filled with people experiencing the exact same thing.
All those voices, all with something to say, with stories to tell and so few ears or eyes to regard the words. It can seem desperately stupid to be a writer when you consider the odds of anyone reading let alone liking what one writes. I would give my eye teeth (and any other cliche you might care to throw at me) to be a Harlequin author or a Lee Child or Harlan Coben. I mean no disrespect to Child, Coben or Harlequin writers by lumping them all together but they all share one thing in common: people cannot wait to read what they have written. Those of us trying to get there, trying to get people to read what we write are casting our pearls to the Internet hoping someone will notice. The mainstream publishing industry has become more insular, more guarded and more risk averse than ever before and the online world is all that is left. We do the best we can and I will continue writing because I don’t know what else to do but it would be nice, one day, to hear from someone I have never heard of that they enjoyed something I wrote.
Dreams don’t come much smaller or much bigger than that.
This is a free one – too short to do anything else with to be honest.
I believe I write well. I believe I have stories to tell. I believe that those stories are worth reading. When someone reads something I have written and they do not particularly care for it, it is shattering. That is how I am. I don’t know how other writers deal with it but I don’t deal with it well. This has stayed with me through everything I have ever written, it may have been Hemingway who said so I will attribute it to him: “If you believe them when they tell you, you are good then you must believe them when they tell you, you are bad.” Words to that effect.
Right now I am working on several stories at once. One of these stories is, I believe, the best thing I have ever written. There should be another best thing I have ever written in the future but for now I have this one. When I reread the words before I get down to writing for the day the story moves me and I see things which I didn’t even know I was doing while writing. This is where I get confidence and when the day is good and the writing is easy you can believe you really are good. On the days when it does not come easy or not at all or worse someone says something critical then I am convinced I cannot really write but am only pretending.
Part of me believes in all sincerity that I am not simply a good writer but a very good writer. Another part of me asks: if that is true where is your piece in Blackbird or The Adirondack Journal? Harpers? The New Yorker? Redbook? Sometimes I answer back to myself that they don’t know a good thing when they read it and that may well be true especially of The New Yorker. Can so many readers be wrong though? There is that nasty self doubt. You simply cannot have it and continue to write. I have to write now and get out the stories that I want to tell. If they are read so much the better but I cannot allow the doubt too much purchase. I really have reached the point where I cannot, not write. For good or ill there I am.
The popularity of the sample of the story versus the conversion to sale makes me think that, despite my best efforts, perhaps my style is a little off putting.
I don’t mean to be awkward but the writing is sometimes that way. When I tell a story I write the way I think. We rarely think the way we speak and the way we speak is restrictive. A writer whom I respect a great deal has told me that my stories are too short. I leave too much unsaid. The unsaid is what strikes me the most about life it is what I try to reflect when I write. Many of us, if not all of us, are masters of the unsaid. Maybe I need to unsay it better. My ideas for stories are small and the stories are small. Some people are better suited to mountains others better suited to picking up rocks along the stream side.
Considering the amount of time and effort put into the story the seven sales over three days hardly constitutes success but it depends on how success is measured. Seven, in western mythology, is a lucky number which kind of puts it at odds with the idea of seven deadly sins but there you have it. Two people have let me know they enjoyed the story. They didn’t rave about it but their compliments were sincere which is a plus. If nothing else I know I wrote a story which a small audience enjoyed. For now that will have to do.
It is out. Kind of scary and kind of cool at the same time. The eBook – and I use that word knowing it is a short story not a book – is available from Smashwords right here.
There is a process to all of this self publishing which boils down to managing who you are. I created an email account at Yahoo (Gmail had me tempted with the storage but it is an unwieldy monstrosity). The other part to the whole self publishing thing which is also a necessity is the creation of an online persona. This blog is partly the creation of myself as a writing persona. I’m not a different person here than on my regular blog but what I write about will only be about writing and self publishing and what goes into it all.
Smashwords is the platform which I have chose to use in order to publish myself. My Smashwords profile is here (click). I have already arranged for a cover to be created by a service which does nothing but ebook cover design called appropriately enough eBook Cover Designs. The first story to be released will be a short 8 page story called Going After The Big One and it will be released on all eBook formats. There will be a series of short stories coming after that and then eventually the SF/Fantasy novel I started a little over a year ago.
And away we go…
So this is where I start on a new journey to try and become a published writer.
All through CEGEP and university I sent out poems and short stories to publications all over North America to no avail. Rejections slips in the form of fuzzy photocopies, accompanied by subscription requests, were all that ever returned my way. So I gave up writing for a long time. A little over a decade ago I started blogging and found that I enjoyed it most of the time. A pastime which is, statistically the purvue of 16 year old girls who post three times, before moving on to something more interesting, turned out to be something which could hold my attention. Lo and behold I couldn’t get rejection slips. It was the perfect venue for me.
A lot of living has been done in the past dozen years. My wife died two years ago after an eight year battle with cancer. Our children are teens who have been, understandably, scarred by growing up in a house where cancer and paralysis were resident most of their lives and finally completed by the grim spectre who awaits us all. It has all been documented to varying degrees on my personal blog. Just before Lynn died I started a project collecting my own memories and putting them down in a new blog called What I Remember which turned into a memorial project for Lynn for a while but will revert to just my own memories in the near future. All that to say that I have been writing just not writing fiction.
My ambition has always been to be a fiction writer. I grew up watching the Walton’s and loved the voice of Earl Hamner as John Boy Walton and thought that if I could grow up to be John Boy then life would have been good. Life has been good which may sound like an odd thing to say given all that has gone before but in truth I would not trade what I have lived for what anyone else has. This is my life and now a new phase is starting. It may be a successful one and it may be unsuccessful but no matter how it goes I will have a story to tell.