I’m reminded of the “Goodfeathers” from Animaniacs legends as I think the line “For as far back as I can remember…”
For me, that long time coming goal was to be a novelist. Oh, I’ve always had the ideas. Ideas that are truly cringe and laugh inducing as I reread excerpts and look back on the plans that I made. I completed my first “novel” when I was eleven.
I remember how proud I was taking the printed copy to my elementary school and showing it to my classmates. I wrote something. I completed something.
That book, and it was truly a book, not a novel, was some of the shoddiest writing I think anyone could produce. The plot had something to do with two teenage sisters moving in with their friends who’s parents were dead. Someone turned out to be a killer in the group. Then something about ghosts. Then something about vampires. In the end, I do believe time travel happened.
Thinking about it, it might have done really well in today’s market of sci-fi. It had all of the elements that make good modern sci-fi, sans the aliens. We could throw a few in there, though, for posterity’s sake.
My writing suffered during my teen years. An idea took over my brain, a world began to form that I could never quite nail down in the way that I wanted to. I spent years developing characters and scenarios, learning the ins and outs of people with thoughts and motivations sometimes beyond me. Rapists, killers, victims, acquaintances, friends, family, lovers. I learned them all, learned what drove them all, but I could never quite get the storytelling right.
Shelving the idea in my twenties as something that I would never finish, I moved on to other projects. The ideas started flowing easier again, I learned new characters and figured out their motivations.
Then came NaNoWriMo 2011.
For those not aware, NaNoWriMo is an annual event in November where writers undertake the challenge of writing a novel, at least 50,000 words in 30 days. It doesn’t seem like that many, but when you’re stumped on where to go and you’re working around your everyday life, time can slip away from you quickly.
I’d competed in the challenge two times before: in 2009 I attempted to write an auto-biographical account of the last year of my father’s life and I failed the challenge as the emotional toll of writing about a man that had died two months before became too much for me; in 2010 I wrote about a woman whose view of reality would shift before her eyes, characters behaved differently towards her, people who were dead suddenly entered the room as if nothing had happened – the 50,000 word goal was completed, but the story was not.
NaNoWriMo 2011 brought a new chance at a challenge, and, for kicks, I decided to dust off the shelved story of my teen years and approach it from a different perspective. I realized that my main problem with the story and why it never felt right to me was that my protagonist always sounded so pious and perfect. It was hard to care for her when you wanted to throttle her. I decided to challenge myself to writing the story from the villain’s point of view. Let someone who is clearly a “bad guy” explain his thoughts and motivations, explain why he makes the choices he does.
The words flowed so easily this go around. Was it the changed perspective? Was it simply the age difference between my child self and my adult self?
Whatever the difference, I reached the end of the novel and the 50,000 word mark without much struggle. The 50k words came quicker than the end of the book, but by the start of January, the book was finished.
For the first time in 16 years, I held a completed manuscript in my hand and felt that pride that came from knowing that I did it. I went full out in the editing process, scrapping large portions that didn’t fit, correcting phrasing, adding new ideas, all for the hope of coming up with one perfectly sculpted novel that I could share with the world.
CreateSpace, which I had heard about through the NaNoWriMo process, offered the perfect chance to share my vision, this brainchild with the world.
So I self-published the book.
One thing that you don’t think of after you write a book is the “now what?” of it all.
I’ve read the encouraging words of other do-it-yourselfer’s who have had success due to their marketing strategies and the great online resources out there. This isn’t one of those blogs.
I am truly 1 week into the self-publishing phase. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m sure as hell going to be writing about my adventures and misadventures as I head out into the wonderful and mystical world of self-publishing.
It’s gonna be a long ride…